I recently had the pleasure of trying out one of Travellers Autobarn’s stationwagons on the EPIC 16 day East Coast Australia Road Trip, and I am so grateful for the opportunity on many levels – most of all because I think this is now a very viable option as a campervan alternative on your next Aussie road trip.
For some, driving in Australia, which is on the opposite side of the road, can be daunting, not to mention the fact that campervans are often large and scary on their own. I was quite nervous myself about attempting to take control of one for the trip, as was the initial agreement with Autobarn, until I realized one very, very important fact: their campervans (and those from many other companies) only come in manual transmission… and I cannot drive a stick.
Even though I felt like a bit of a loser, I knew I was not alone in my plight. I contacted Autobarn and was extremely happy to be offered a Wagon instead – a vehicle that can very well be used in place of a campervan in most road trips.
What You Get With the Wagon
Automatic Transmission, Table / Chairs, 2-man Dome Tent, Esky (Cooler), Dishes & Pans, Gas Cooker, Maps & Guides
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*Please note that the video says it comes with sleeping bags, but it does not have sleeping equipment.
How the Wagon is Better than a Camper
For starters, the size makes it feel like you are driving a standard car. You typically have more control and don’t have to worry about taking out others on narrow or curvy roads. Since the vehicle is not very tall like some campervans, there is also no worry about tipping over. I know this may sound funny to you now, but when you are driving on the road to Cape Tribulation or even into Port Douglas, the ability to have more control and maneuverability is a godsend.
City driving is made easier in a stationwagon as opposed to a camper. The brief time I spent trying to get the vehicle back to its Sydney drop-off was stressful enough in a Wagon; I can’t imagine trying to do it in a giant camper!
Gas mileage is another big factor in making the Wagon a great travel choice. On our trip, we drove around 4000 kilometers and only spent a mere $481 in gas along the way. With two people involved, that is really only $240 each for an entire run from Cairns to Sydney, and then some. However, with the Wagon, there is actually the possibility to seat 4 to 5 people, which means you could get that number even lower. *Gas was around $1.28/liter.
The daily rental price is also lower than that of a campervan, so the base fee outside of gas will be lower.
How a Camper is Better than a Wagon
A camper will typically provide a fully enclosed living space for its travelers. For example, there may be enough room inside to sleep, eat, change clothes, watch TV and possibly even prepare dinner. The Wagon, however, can really only provide enough room in the back to sleep two people. Everything else must generally take place outside of the enclosed area.
If you are taking more than two people in the Wagon, there is the fact that the other passengers will have to take advantage of the tent in order to sleep, which may or may not be an issue. Setting up the tent can at times be quite annoying, especially if it starts to rain or gets dark early. With a camper, there are no worries about the weather or getting set up.
>> Interested in renting a Wagon for your next Aussie adventure? Do it here on the Travellers Autobarn website.