Australia in a Campervan – Our List of the Country’s Best Beaches

When people think of Australia, a number of things come immediately to mind: the immensity of the country (7.6 million square kilometres) kangaroos and koalas, breathtaking natural landscapes, the Great Barrier Reef, Uluru, and … beaches!

Yes, indeed, in Australia you will find some of the world’s most beautiful beaches. Bordered by the Indian, Pacific and Southern Oceans and the Arafura Sea (stretching across 700,000 km2 bordering Indonesian islands and North Australian reefs), as well as the Timor and Tasman Seas, the coastline of Australia offers 37,000 km of coast boasting many spectacular beaches.

Here is our list of Australia’s Top Ten beaches:

  • Whitehaven Beach, Whitsundays Islands, QLD: Located on the largest island in the archipelago, Whitehaven Beach is famous for having the purest sand in the world and is widely considered the world’s most beautiful beach. Along its 7km you’ll find blinding white sand composed of 98% silica (which is, incidentally, used to make the lens of the Hubble telescope), lapped by crystal clear waters.

Whitehaven Beach

  • Bondi Beach, Sydney, NSW:  A landmark for surfers, backpackers, tourists and swimmers, Bondi Beach is located just seven kilometres east of Sydney’s CBD and is emblematic for Sydney. This beach, one kilometre in length, is also famous for The Bondi Surf Bathers’ Life Saving Club, the world’s oldest lifesaving club which was founded in 1907 and is the subject and setting for a popular reality TV series.
  • The Pass, Byron Bay, NSW: a special atmosphere surrounds Byron Bay, making this place magical and a little mystical as well as attracting an alternative culture and some of Australia’s most rich and famous people. Famous as a renowned surf spot, Byron is much more. It’s also an excellent place to observe whales between June and November, or walk along the path to Cape Byron which as the most easterly point in Australia, allows you to be the first to see the sunrise on the whole continent. Take a wander through the lush coastal forest nearby or simply enjoy the somewhat different life in this town with its laid-back feel and interesting restaurants and cafes. You’ll definitely come back home feeling refreshed.

Byron Bay

  • Noosa, Sunshine Coast, QLD: the tropical paradise of Noosa has a lot to offer as a relaxing and beautiful place to spend time. In a nutshell, Noosa is a glamourous international seaside resort, with pristine beaches, luxury shops, the famous Noosa National Park and a lush hinterland region with attractions such as the ever-popular Eumundi Markets. Located about 90 minutes by car from Brisbane, it’s popular as a weekend gateway destination.
  • Cable Beach, Broom-WA: 22 kilometres of immaculate white sand bordered by the deep blue sea of the Indian Ocean makes Broome a romantic destination. Sunset on Cable Beach is a spectacular sight. One of the most well-known activities in the region is a camel ride along the beach. Between March and October you can admire the “Staircase to the Moon”, a natural phenomenon caused by the rising full moon shining on Roebuck Bay at low tide to create a stunning optical illusion that is reminiscent of an escalator going to the moon.

Cable Beach

  • Hyams Beach, Jervis Bay, NSW: The walk between Greenfield and Hyams Beach is a truly special experience. Hyams Beach has been officially recognised by The Guinness Book of Records as the world whitest beach. It’s unquestionably the most famous beach in the Jervis Bay region, that because of its rich marine life and unspoilt nature is popular with divers and snorkelers as well as fishermen, and also makes it the perfect place to spend quality time with your family.
  • Bells Beach, Torquay, VIC: Located along the picturesque Great Ocean Road, stop at Torquay to breathe the pure air of Bells Beach, the emblematic beach immortalised in the movie Point Break and the cult documentary The Endless Summer. Each year, it’s also home to the world’s longest-running surfing competition – The Rip Curl Pro Surf & Music Festival. Some of the best waves, or breaks, in the world are to be found here and it’s well known among the surfing fraternity as one of the world’s top surfing destinations.

Bells Beach

  • Surfers Point, Margaret River, WA: Margaret River is a paradise for food and nature lovers. The region produces less than 1% of Australia’s wine, but more than 15% is Grand Cru quality. Evans & Tate, Fermoy Estate, Flinders Bay and Flying Fish Cove are some of the first class vineyards in the region. It’s also a natural paradise surrounded by caves, white sand beaches, hiking paths and world-class surfing points. Catching waves in “Marg” is the goal of surfers the world over. So come and experience the ultimate surfing safari in this region!
  • Cape Range, Turquoise Bay, WA: Turquoise Bay in the Cape Range National Park, close to the beautiful Ningaloo barrier reef has one of the most beautiful, perfect beaches in Western Australia. The most popular activity is snorkelling. With its white sand and crystal clear waters, you are sure to see plenty of colourful fish and coral. Some inhabitants of the reef are parrotfish, scissortail sergeants, spangled emperor, blue damselfish, moon wrasse, butterfly fish, reef sharks and green sea turtles.
  • Wineglass Bay, TAS: Wineglass Bay in the Freycinet peninsula in Tasmania is part of one of the most beautiful regions in the country. It’s an ideal place for fishing, sailing, hiking in the outdoors, kayaking, climbing or relaxing. You can also spot wildlife such as as White-bellied Sea Eagles, quolls, wallabies, wombats and Tasmanian Devils.

Wineglass Bay

So now it’s up to you to hit the road in your motorhome to discover some of these stunning places, and make your own list! When you do, please leave your comments below.

If I’m under 21, can I still hire a campervan in Australia and New Zealand?

Australia and New Zealand are very popular destinations for backpackers, mostly European and American students having a gap year and working their way around Australia. In between jobs a popular way to get around is in a low budget campervan such as the Hippie Camper vehicles.

Hippie logo

Many of these backpackers are under 21 and they are always really pleased to find an option for campervan hire that not only suits their budget and their lifestyle, but also caters to drivers under 21.

Hippie Camper is the brand that Salamanda Travel can offer for drivers who are under 21 but over 18 in Australia and New Zealand. Hippie have a range of vehicles:

The Hippie Camper Deluxe (0-3 year old vehicle)

Hippie Deluxe lifestyle

The Hippie Camper Budget (3-5 year old vehicle)

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

The Hippie Hitop (4-6 year old vehicle)

Hippie Hitop Lifestyle

And finally, the answers to a few FAQs we get asked regarding Hippie Camper vehicles:

Is there a minimum rental duration?

Yes, the minimum rental period is generally 7 days, but at peak periods longer minimum rentals may apply.

How old do I need to be to drive a Hippie vehicle?

Hippie Camper hires their campervans to drivers 18 years and over, as long as you have a valid full or green P Australian driver’s licence. If the licence is not in English you’ll need an international licence or a valid, certified translation into English. To find a translator in Australia go to the NAATI website here:

In New Zealand the NZ Transport Agency provides a list of approved translators here:

Do I have to pay a bond?

All Hippie Camper rentals require a payment of a bond on pickup. The bond payable will depend on the liability option selected and the age of the driver.

The lowest bond payable on Hippie vehicles is $100 for drivers over 21 and $250 for drivers between 18 and 20 years of age. Please also refer to our blog post on liability reduction options and please always call Salamanda Travel if you have any questions you’d like to ask in person.

Australia in a Campervan – Our Guide to Christmas in Australia

Forget the cold weather of the Northern Hemisphere and the chimney fire!

bondi beach christmas

Christmas in Australia happens during the Summer Holidays (mid-December – mid-February) with temperatures from between 28 to 35°C (sometimes even hotter) whereas in France for example it’s more like 0 to 7°C, so for Europeans or North Americans to spend Christmas “Down Under” is quite a different experience to what they are used to.

Like in Europe, Christmas is a religious celebration even if there isn’t an official religion, however, three quarters of the population of Australia identifies as Christian (Catholic or Anglican). The evening of the 24th and the lunchtime of the 25th is generally spent with the family and close friends. Some people go camping as well and celebrate with an Aussie barbie.

christmas-bush

Australia has adopted many customs from Europe and especially the United Kingdom: indeed you’ll find Christmas trees with lots of ornaments and Santa Claus, but perhaps with a swimsuit on the beach. As for the famous Bondi Beach in Sydney, they get crowds of about 40,000 on the 25th!

Like in most countries you can hear carol singers on the street, with the biggest concert being the “Carols in the Domain” in central Sydney. Apart from the classic Christmas tree there is also the Christmas Bush: a small tree native to New South Wales, and lots of these decorate the balconies of houses in Sydney and surrounds.

six-white-boomers

In Australia Santa doesn’t use reindeers but kangaroos, the emblem of the nation, another Australian peculiarity making Christmas quite uniquely different.

Let’s talk about a central element: the Christmas lunch! Here again you’ll find some similarities with British cousins. The meal generally consists of:

  • Platters of seafood
  • Turkey
  • Ham
  • Vegetables
  • Pudding
  • Fruit Mince Pie
  • Pavlova

Pavlova: a cake made of meringue, and topped with cream and fruit invented in honour of Anna Pavlova, on the occasion of the ballerina’s tour to Australia and New Zealand. The two countries claim to have invented this desert and it can be a source of conflict between both nations.

boxing day test

The following day, Boxing Day, is a public holiday common to all Commonwealth countries: it’s the first day of the summer sales and the Boxing Day Test Match – a cricket game that takes place in Melbourne in the “MCG”,  a stadium with a capacity of 90, 000, that is usually full on this day.

Darwin – A General Guide

Situated on the edge of a harbour larger than the more well-known Sydney Harbour, Darwin is a small, yet cosmopolitan city.  There are only two seasons in Darwin – wet and dry.  The dry season (May to October) is the perfect time to visit with temperatures that vary between  21oC  and 32oC, but it’s usually sunny and 31oC every day.

The wet season (November to April), brings the rain and with it some splendid summer storm viewing. The grass is greener then, the waterfalls are full and splendid, but it’s wet. Really wet.

Waterfall Darwin

There are a number of activities on offer in and around Darwin. Crocosaurus Cove is located in the heart of the Darwin tourist precinct. Here you can hold a baby crocodile or if you are more adventurous, you could try the “Cage of Death”.  You are dropped into a crocodile enclosure in a see-through cage while handlers feed the crocs, ensuring a face-to-face encounter with a prehistoric beast.

For an activity that’s a little less intense, visit the Darwin Waterfront Precinct. This precinct features a wave lagoon and recreation lagoon and parklands, as well as picnic areas with public art dotted around. It’s fun for the whole family.

The Museum & Art Gallery of the Northern Territory features Indigenous art and maritime archaeology from the local region.

At Aquascene you can feed hundreds of friendly wild fish by hand. This natural phenomenon has occurred for the past 60+ years and it’s possible to observe the fish species Mullet, Bream, Batfish, Barramundi, Rays, Mangrove Jack, Parrot and Diamond Fish.

Darwin Skyline

The Mindil Beach Sunset Markets run from April to October and on offer is food, arts, crafts and entertainment, all in a tropical beach sunset setting. The Deck Chair Cinema is an outdoor cinema that starts at 7pm, seven nights a week in the dry season. You will find it just near the esplanade. If you happen to be in Darwin in September, check out the Darwin International Film Festival.

There are a number of national parks surrounding Darwin, each with its own unique elements of landscape, fauna and flora. Whether inland or coastal, they are packed with beautiful natural features. Visit the Parks and Wildlife Commission for an overview of the parks closest to Darwin.

The Ghan Overland Journey: this train travels from Darwin to Adelaide. Legend has it the old Ghan was once stranded for two weeks in one spot and the engine driver had to shoot wild goats to feed his passengers. This train trip extends for 2,979kms, takes 54 hours and passes through the extensive russet desert landscapes to the tropical splendour of Darwin. Often found on the list of the greatest rail trips on the planet, this is definitely something to consider.

Darwin is also the gateway to the famous Kakadu National Park. You may also wish to head south to Alice Springs and on to Uluru, formerly known as Ayers Rock, with the surrounding Kata Tjuta National Park and nearby Kings Canyon.

Local national parks are the Casurina Coastal reserve, Charles Darwin National park, Holmes Jungle Nature Park, Knuckney Lagoons Conservation reserve and Leanyer Recreation Park.

Travelling in a Campervan with Young Children

Many people like the idea of hiring a motorhome but are unsure about travelling with young children and babies.

Holidaying with kids is a rewarding experience but can be challenging at times! So we’ve put together some helpful information which will help with your vacation planning and ensure that everyone enjoys their time on the road. This information is specifically aimed at travellers with children under 7 years of age but can be applied to all ages.

Many people like the idea of hiring a motorhome but are unsure about travelling with young children and babies. Holidaying with kids is a rewarding experience but can be challenging at times! So we’ve put together some helpful information which will help with your vacation planning and ensure that everyone enjoys their time on the road.

This information is specifically aimed at travellers with children under 7 years of age but can be applied to all ages. To start with, every person travelling in a campervan needs their old seat, whether they are 6 months old or 60. Children 7 years and under also need to be in proper child restraints, as per by the strict road safety laws in Australia and New Zealand. Generally, for children aged 0 to 6 months (on average), they need to be in a rear-facing baby capsule or adjustable baby seat. From 6 months up to 4 years (on average), children can be seated in forward-facing baby seats. Continue reading “Travelling in a Campervan with Young Children”