Australia Van Life: Your Comprehensive Guide

Australia Van Life: Your Comprehensive Guide
As modern generations seem thirsty for freedom, fun and outdoor adventure, van life is witnessing a remarkable surge as an alternative lifestyle. An increasing number of Australian families, working professionals, and grey nomads are choosing to live behind the wheel. Van lifers live full-time in their home-like campervans or motorhomes and travel around the country, often exploring less-travelled roads and Australian wilderness.

Sounds interesting? Van life or van living inspires many people to embrace the nomadic lifestyle. But van life is much more than what you see on social media. 

To thrive while you drive, you need to be prepared to trade materialism for minimalism, live on a budget, embrace challenges with open arms, and more. So, we have created this guide for Australian van life, covering what to pack, where to start, safety tips, and everything you need to know for a joyful life as a van lifer.

So, keep reading on with us.

Choosing a Van to Live In

It is all about your needs, priorities, and budget. But you certainly don’t need flashy, expensive luxury vehicles. After all, van life is more about simplicity and minimalism. Here are some of the best and least expensive rig options:

Full-Sized Vans

  • Sprinter Vans
  • Ford Transit
  • Ram Promaster
  • Nissan NV
  • Chevy Express
  • Ford Econoline/ E-Series

Small Cargo Vans

  • Ford Transit Connect
  • Nissan NV200
  • Ram Promaster City
  • Mercedes Metris


  • Toyota Sienna
  • Honda Odyssey
  • Dodge Caravan / Grand Caravan

Other options

    • Car camper conversions
    • SUV conversions
    • Box truck conversions
    • Short bus campers
    • Shuttle bus conversion
    • RVs, truck campers, and camper trailers
    • Converted ambulance
    • Skoolies

DIY or Buy a Pre-Built Camper Van

DIY your camper van might seem an exciting and budget-friendly option, but this is not for everyone. If the idea feels intimidating, you do not have space and tools, or you have more money than time, then we suggest choosing plug-and-play options:

  • Buy a camper van converted by someone else.
  • Buy a can from a professional conversion company.
  • Install a camper conversion kit.

How do you get power living in a van?

Fortunately, there are many portable power options for a brightened van life experience. For example, you can buy a BLUETTI AC200MAX expandable power station with a 2,048Wh capacity. Surprisingly, there are seven ways to recharge it: AC, solar, car, generator, lead battery, and dual AC/AC+solar). 

If you are looking for cleaner and renewable power sources, you can go for solar panels. The primary benefit is solar panels are eco-friendly and affordable because the source (the sun) does not charge anything. We recommend buying foldable solar panels, like BLUETTI PV200 solar panels, that keep your solar generators juiced in sunlight. It is built with monocrystalline solar cells, allowing the solar panel to convert up to 23.4% of sunlight into solar energy to power your campervan. The IP65 junction box and ETFE coating of PV200 make it withstand water splash and scratches. So, it is perfect for hiking, camping, fishing, and other outdoor activities.

Best Van Life Destinations in Australia

BLUETTI PV200 solar panels

Here are some of the best van life destinations in Australia so you can narrow down the options and have a wonderful experience:

New South Wales (NSW): Located on the southeastern side of Australia, NSW is home to the country’s most famous and vibrant cities. But the region also has many beaches, bays, and national parks. Some recommended locations are Jervis Bay, Byron Bay, Pretty Beach Campsite, Shelly Beach Holiday Park, and Dunns Swamp.

Queensland: Queensland is the best location for grey nomads and van lifers alike. There are plenty of tropical islands, golden beaches, and 200+ national parks. Plus, you can hike great trails in luscious rainforests and bushland. Some of Queensland's best van life destinations are Noosa, Mooloolaba Beach Holiday Park, Lake Somerset Holiday Park, Cape Tribulation, Palm Cove Holiday Park, Fraser Islands and Rainbow Beach.

Tasmania: Tasmania is famous for its wonderful wildlife, hike trails and scenic locations. Most of the island remains untouched by urbanisation. Some recommended places to explore in Tasmania include Binalong Bay, Cradle Mountain, Barilla Bay, Freycinet National Park, Bruny Island, Cloudy Bay, and Bakers Beach.

Western Australia (WA): WA is the country’s largest state known for its sprawling outback, coral reefs, and panoramic beaches. Some great van life destinations in WA include Margaret River Region, Jurien Bay, Exmouth, Cape Range National Park, Ningaloo Marine Park and Albany.

Northern Territory (NT): Looking for a true Australian outback? Head to NT to explore otherworldly landscapes, ancient Aboriginal history, and chilled-out locals. Because you will mostly drive into the dirt, ensure your campervan is 4x4-enabled. Your best options include Darwin, West MacDonnell Ranges, Alice Springs, Finke Gorge National Park, Adelaide River, Kakadu National Park, Barkly Tableland, Kings Canyon, and Simpson Desert.

South Australia: Southern Australia is another of the best outback and low-key van life destinations filled with food and wine. You will also see some of the cutest Aussie animals on your journey. Some of the best places are Adelaide hills, Kangaroo Island, McLaren Vale, Coffin Bay National Park, Deep Creek Conservation Park, Mount Remarkable and Yorke Peninsula.

Victoria: Thanks to the state's cooler climate, Victoria attracts people for its abundant greenery. The state is home to rugged coastlines and offers scenic drives. Van lifers also enjoy leafy national parks and refreshing campsites in Victoria. Did we mention Victoria's sensational food and wine scene? Victoria's best van life destinations are Grampians National Park, Phillip Island, Mornington Peninsula, Alpine National Park, Torquay, and Great Otway National Park.

Van Life Essentials: What to Pack (Checklist)

Van Life Essentials: What to Pack (Checklist)

Van life kitchen essentials

  • Camp stove
  • Cooking table
  • Nesting cook set
  • Coffee maker
  • Water filtration system
  • Small cooler

Everyday van essentials

  • Durable blanket
  • Portable shower
  • Portable power station
  • Emergency toilet

Van essentials for outdoor living

  • Camp chair
  • Outdoor mat
  • Outdoor table
  • Awning
  • String lights
  • Portable fire pit
  • Rain gear
  • Polarised sunglasses

Van life clothing essential

  • Hiking boots
  • Sandals
  • Packing cubes
  • Sun hat
  • Sleeping bag
  • Outdoor slippers

Van life organisational gear

  • Starlink storage case
  • Seat back organiser
  • Rear door rack

Van life must have recovery & safety gear

  • Recovery boards
  • Battery jump starter
  • Portable air compressor
  • Satellite communication device
  • Folding shovel
  • Fire extinguisher
  • Carbon monoxide detector (to avoid potential danger from propane-using heaters, fridges, or stoves)

Other van life essentials

  • Roof vent fan
  • Space heater
  • Mosquito net
  • Laundry washing
  • Sleep mask
  • Earplugs
  • Baby wipes
  • Insect repellent
  • Bungee Cords
  • Toolbox

Pack everything you believe is essential for a comfortable and enjoyable van life.

Important Tips for Van Life in Australia

  • Get the right van that fits your lifestyle and preferences.
  • Important: We strongly recommend conducting a trial before embarking on full-time van life.
  • Do not forget to get insurance and roadside assistance for your camper van.
  • Download important apps that can make it a smooth and enjoyable van life experience.
  • Save as much money as you can during your travels.
  • Plan your routes and budget to stay safe and financially secure.
  • Embrace the freedom of off-grid living.
  • Learn to cook while travelling.
  • Set up your phone for mobile internet usage.
  • Look for free camp options to save money.
  • Respect locals and the rules and regulations of the region, and follow the guidelines of the destinations (national parks, beaches, etc.) you travel to.

Van Life FAQs

Is van life legal in Australia?

Yes, van life is legal in Australia. But parking your van in certain places, including the side of the street, beach car parks, or shopping centre car parks, may not be. So, ensure you learn about and follow local regulations (which vary from region to region) related to parking and camping. 

Fortunately, each Australian state has designated areas for free or low-cost camping, including national parks, state forests, and reserves. You can park your van at these places for a smooth and enjoyable van life experience.

How do you make money as a van lifer?

Many van dwellers are digital nomads who earn money by working remotely. Plus, these days, you can find freelance work as a music teacher, graphic designer, writer, web developer, construction estimator, accountant, etc. You just need a laptop and an internet connection. Many of those living in a camper van also do seasonal work such as campsite stewarding, fruit picking, festival work, or other outdoor positions.

What is the address for mailing for van lifers?

You can use a friend or family member’s address. Alternatively, you can use a mail-forwarding service to domicile in nomad-friendly states.

How much does it cost to live a van life in Australia?

The answer varies from person to person, depending on factors like accommodation arrangements, your lifestyle, needs, length of the trip, etc. But the good thing is that van life can be tailored to your budget. The monthly budget could be as little as AUD $1000 per individual and AUD $1700 per couple. These costs do not include the van.

Can I live in a camper van with my dog or cat?

 Many van lifers choose to live with their furry companions to be around them. You can also carry your dog or cat so they stay warm and safe in your home on wheels.

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