A Cheap Way of Getting Across Australia

November 16, 2009 · 10 comments

Whilst there are a few ways of making your way across Australia (I’ll detail the rest next week). Often overlooked is the option of renting a car. Whilst renting a car is not usually a cheap option to cross a continent, it is possible in Australia if you know where to go and are flexible with your dates.

Drive Australia

Drive Australia

Nation-wide rental chains often have people driving cars cross continent, especially as Australia is popular with visitors, but the vast size of the place means a lot of these trips are one way, which can often lead in a deficit of rental cars in the more popular places to leave from tied with an excessive amount of cars in the most popular place to stop your travels.

This is a problem for the rental companies, and a expensive one to fix; requiring staff time (money), fuel to return the car (money), and potentially losing customers at the other end (money). The other option is to bulk fill a car transporter but that either requires the same amount of things as before (plus a transporter vehicle) or hiring a third party (money).

These are the cars you want to hire. The rental companies are very happy for you to drive them in their required direction. So happy in fact, the price of the rental is dropped from a typical $30-70 a day to $1-5 a day. On top of that, many often give a fuel allowance dependant on the distance driving, this can be significant ($200-350), meaning this is a wallet happy way of getting yourself across the outback.

Of course you lose your own flexibility, there can’t be much stopping for sight seeing on route, and usually you leave when they want you too as well, the rental company will set you a time limit to arrive in, and of course you can’t pick the car, so you might be in a small city car, a big engined touring car or a luxury camper van.

Some resources to check out are:




It is also worth checking out rental car company specific websites or just doing it the old fashioned way and walking in and asking what they need relocated.

One final note is this can also be done across New Zealand, Canada and the USA with relative ease through online searches. It is possible in other countries as well, but more negotiation is needed (i.e. go in and ask what they need delivered).

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{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

Abbie November 16, 2009 at 1:47 AM

That’s an interesting idea – I never considered that car rental companies needed people to drive their cars back, I assumed they paid people!


AdventureRob November 16, 2009 at 7:37 PM

Indeed, a bit of out the box thinking, and everyone is a winner here. They get their cars back, it’s cheaper then using staff time, and they get another sale in the books. Consumer gets a very cheap rental car :-)
.-= AdventureRob´s last blog – How to stay in an Australian City Cheaply =-.


Alouise November 17, 2009 at 3:28 AM

This is a fantastic idea. Last year I rented a car for 2 days and it cost almost $200. This would save so much money.
.-= Alouise´s last blog – Budgets are the devil, =-.


Sophie November 18, 2009 at 10:04 PM

Good tips here, Rob. Have you ever taken the Indian-Pacific, btw?


AdventureRob November 18, 2009 at 10:46 PM

Thanks gal’s! I’ve not taken that railway and am not intending too either, self owned campervan will be my method of getting across Australia.
.-= AdventureRob´s last blog – Western Australian Winerys =-.


Lis Sowerbutts November 30, 2009 at 8:54 AM

I met people in Tasmania in April that got a very cheap deal on relocating a campervan – including the price of the ferry from Melbourne! They also had about 10 days to get from Hobart to Melbourne which was not an unreasonable time to see at least part of Tassie


Alex November 30, 2009 at 2:12 PM

Only one of the best cars in the world. “About how fast were you going when you lost power?”, “Urm about 160kmph…”, “What’s that about 100mph?”, “Yea about that.”, “Noice!”
.-= Alex´s last blog – chinese temple =-.


AdventureRob November 30, 2009 at 2:23 PM

That’s good to hear Lis! I definitely want to go to Tasmania, but was a bit reserved about bringing my own van there (was planning to sell before heading there), hopefully I can time making it back to the mainland with a relocation rental.

Alex – ah that was a classic night XD damn that supercharged engine and its hobby of overheating.
.-= AdventureRob´s last blog – Other Cheap Methods of Getting Across Australia =-.


Vi @ Travel Tips December 3, 2009 at 8:01 AM

@Lis, they were very lucky to get 10 days to get from Hobart to Melbourne” deal. When I was looking about relocating car from Perth to Sydney, they were giving you 5 or 6 days, which means almost non stop driving. Cheap, but not much fun.
.-= Vi @ Travel Tips´s last blog – Short trails in New Zealand. Lake Marian track =-.


CHorttle September 7, 2010 at 1:02 PM

Yeah I agree with this. My brother lives in Sydney and when I went over to visit him we went on a road trip. We worked out that it was actually much cheaper to hire a car than to plan different routes with a variety of public tranport modes.


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