What’s more your style: camping deep in the bush or by the ocean, with no neighbours — or site 35C in Row 8 in some caravan park on Highway One? Do you enjoy the company of others, especially “sundowners” with your fellow vanners?
Most mid-size caravans, which start at about $30,000, now pack all the comforts of home, including airconditioning and ensuite bathrooms. However, if you leave the bitumen on a regular basis they will begin to disintegrate in front of your eyes.
Purpose-built off-road vans can take serious punishment, but the good ones — again, made in Australia — are expensive, kicking off from $50,000 for a small model. Several manufacturers fit a more robust chassis/suspension/wheel and tyre package on standard vans for a relatively modest extra outlay. For example, Jayco’s Outback option on its caravans and campers usually carries a premium of $3500-$4000.
It’s enough to get you off the blacktop, away from the crowd and easily and safely to into all but the most remote national parks. Given the decrepit state of many bitumen roads around the country, it’s money well spent anyway.
Remember too that, the bigger and heavier your van, the more grunt upfront you need to pull it, and the more fuel you will use. Both cost big money.