Ask Away: Tips for driving around Australia

Each week, Eleanor Barker answers your travel questions

Hi, I’m looking doing a trip to Australia, going by car from Adelaide to Perth, Darwin, then down through centre, back to Adelaide. Some people have shipped their own car over, but would it be better to rent a good 4WD? The trip would be about six months from April 2020.

Thank you,


Hiring a 4WD to travel across Australia is a popular holiday choice. The main reason to rent instead of shipping is the convenience, but it may also be cheaper. When you arrive, the rental vehicle will be ready for you and insurance, roadside assistance, maintenance costs and mechanical issues should be covered – but always double check what’s included.

I’m not sure what your current vehicle is but you can take a SUV over for about NZ$4000 (large vehicle), according to New Zealand Movers. You will need to obtain a permit to import (AU$50) and pay an import duty and GST. All cars are inspected by quarantine upon arrival. If a vehicle is considered “dirty” then it will require exorbitant steam cleaning. Of course, you’ll probably want to bring it home again and that could double your costs.

You’ll also need to register and insure the vehicle, including compulsory third party insurance cover. Overall, Aussies paid a national average of $1027 to insure their wheels in 2018, but in South Australia it was a little bit cheaper, $906. Off-roader SUVs tend to cost more.

Rhino Car Hire ran a quote for your six-month period and their prices range from NZ$42.77 per day (NZ$7827) for their cheapest model of SUV (Kia Sportage), to the largest (Toyota Kluger) for NZ$131.80 per day (NZ$24,120) . This is assuming you are under the age of 71. With Australian 4WD Hire, where no vehicle in their fleet is older than three years old, prices range from about NZ$130-$190 per day ($NZ23,920-NZ$32,960) for a fully equipped 4WD with a complete set of complimentary camping equipment.

Another option is buying a second-hand vehicle to sell at the end of the trip. It is risky as there’s no guarantee you’ll sell it easily – or that you won’t accidentally land a lemon.

The cheaper SUVs from Rhino appear good value if you consider the daily rate and may be your best bet. I would, however, still look into getting a specific quote for bringing your car over and back again, just in case. There’s a chance it could come out cheaper than my estimates.

Lastly, all the rental companies I contacted warned that pricing for a hire vehicle varies according to a number of factors and it’s best to get a final quote for yourself. Happy travels.

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