Driving That Is Out Of This World – Spaceships Campervan Rental Review

[:en]I’d never expected that my first experience with driving abroad in a campervan would be behind the steering wheel of a spacecraft. Not only does our car goes by the name of ‘spaceships’ (code name ‘Ecto’), even the interior seems to be from a different planet. Campervans in general excite me. I love the secret corners to stash away loose items and always get a bit emotional from extendible, popping-up and foldable parts that turn a regular car into a complete house on wheels. Who’s got a chair-freezer at home or a stove -instead of a monster- under his bed? Our spaceship campervan has is all and also comes with a huge sky roof, so we can watch the stars while lying in bed at night.

Travel Experience - Spaceships Campervan Rental

This is Launch Control. The crew are now boarding the spacecraft.

  We had booked our 2 seater campervan in May 2011 to make a small road trip around Cairns, Australia, for a week. Lucky for us, it’s low season and we only pay AUS $45 a day. About the same price of a compact car! We will save a lot on accommodation this way. The Spaceships campervan rental office is –a bit inconveniently- located outside the city centre of Cairns and it takes us a fair half hour to walk all the way over there (a bus service was not available when we were there). Only people that come straight from the airport can ask the shuttle driver to drop them off at the office. But as we finally arrive at the office, we’re welcomed and helped straight away. Because it’s low season, the staff has all the time in the world to explains us patiently about the car and all the accessories that come with it. From the office, we are allowed to pick any of the leftover items from previous renters, such as pasta, toilet rolls, oil, salt and pepper. Happy as campers, we stock the car. We are even invited to choose 3 DVD’s that we can watch from the built-in DVD player in the car and swap with any other Spaceships drivers we meet on the way. Our bags fit in the car easily. There is a lot of space in the back of the car, but to get there, you have to lift the rather heavy bed every time you need something. Luckily, we can turn the 3rd seat in the car around and create some extra space for things we need to get to often. That is to say, all my clothes, of course.

Travel Experience - Spaceships Campervan Rental

All systems are go. Ready for lift-off.

With our freshly rented campervan, we drive north up the Captain Cook Highway. We approach the first crossroads with care, as we don’t really know how a car with automatic transmission works and how to end up on the left line after taking a roundabout. When we change directions, we turn on the windscreen wipers and our left feet thinks it should do something, but can’t remember what exactly. Luckily, the Aussies seem to have a problem with driving as well, as there are signs everywhere, saying to stay in the left lane, to look right, to change to lower gear or give way to passing wildlife and woman drivers. As soon as we leave the city, we stock up for food, fill the little fridge under our bed and drive into the Northern Beaches area. We connect our iPod to the speakers and continue our way relaxed all the way to Port Douglas, where we enjoy a beautiful sunset at the harbour. The incoming darkness doesn’t worry us too much – until we realize that our headlights don’t seem to be working very well.  We quickly stop at a gas station to check the problem out, but can’t find it immediately. Just as we think we really can’t go on like this, we push a lever we previously just pulled at and the lights start shining.

We’ve got light. Power on. Stand clear…

The best thing about driving with a campervan in Australia, is that there is a lot of place you can stop and camp. There are free public places where you can sleep overnight (with water and toilets) and get really close to beaches or in the middle of the rainforest. And there are camp sites that you pay a little for, but with more security, warm water showers and more comfort. We have to different ways of using the car. We can either sleep inside (there is a double bed inside), or we can pull out the bed at the rear door and attach a fabric tent-cover over the door (attached to the wheels) to get more ventilation and space inside. We choose this last option, as the fresh air and noises from outside make us sleep like babies. It makes our car look like a spaceship indeed, but it’s really easy to do and worth the little effort. The locals at Wonga Beach look at our Spaceship with curiosity and a little admiration. Most of them nailed their caravans shut to the floor and even places potted plants and tropical aquariums under their covers. Having the freedom visit a new place every day is something they seems to appreciate well. And that’s exactly what we do, we continue onto the Daintree River, follow the Cape Tribulation Road until the road doesn’t go any further. On the way, we find the most amazing boardwalks, learn all about the local flora and fauna in the Daintree Discovery Centre and meet three wild cassowary eye to eye. We celebrate the fact that they didn’t kill us and treat ourselves with handmade ‘wattleseed’ and ‘yellow sapote’ ice cream from the Daintree Ice Company. We also take a little tour through their tropical fruit trees.

Travel Experience - Spaceships Campervan Rental

Mission control: 60 seconds of fuel remaining…

The distance between Cape Tribulation and Mareeba is fair, so we make sure we have a full tank. Driving in the Spaceship is so easy, that time flies by and we really enjoy the changing landscape (from green to red) along the way. In Mareeba, we visit The Coffee Works, the ‘Disneyland for coffee lovers’. Also, for the tea and chocolate lover, there is a lot to take in (literary)

Houston, we’ve got a problem!

At Lake Eacham we see a woman run up to her three year old, that just discovered a python sunbathing under the picnic table. She says we won’t die if it bites us…(“I mean, it will hurt a lot and you still need to see a doctor and all that, but no worries“), but we choose to leave it alone and visit some nearby waterfalls instead. After exploring the Atherton Tablelands fully, which is great with your own transport, we let the Palmerston and Bruce Highway take us to Babinda. There we visit The Boulders and Devils Pool in the Wooroonooran National Park. We camp on the beach of the very quiet Bramston Beach and look at the Milky Way shine above us that night.

Travel Experience - Spaceships Campervan Rental

The Eagle has landed

Unfortunately, our space adventure has ended now and we have to make our way back to Cairns to say goodbye to our new love on wheels. We absolutely enjoyed driving the bright orange campervan and would love to take another on a road trip later this year. Driving with a campervan in Australia for us has become:

One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.

Travel Experience - Spaceships Campervan Rental

Where? You can rent a Alpha 2 Berth or Beta 2 Berth in Australia (Sydney, Brisbane, Cairns, Melbourne, Darwin and Alice Springs), a  Alpha 2 or 4 Berth, Beta 2 or 4 Berth, 2 Berth Rocket Van (simplified Alpha 2 Berth) and 7 seater People Carrier in New Zealand (Auckland, Christchurch and Queenstown) and the Alpha 2 or 4 Berth, Beta 2 Berth and 8 seater People Carrier in the UK (London). How Much? Depending on low- or high season, please check their website for current prices.  Website? spaceshipsrentals.com.au / spaceshipsrentals.co.nz / spaceshipsrentals.co.uk Great Deals? Spaceships has some great deals that will give you discounts on hire and activities in the area. They can also provide you with any accessories you might need for your trip. AUS – NZ – UK Check out the different ‘Space Stations’ all over Australia, New Zealand, the UK and Europe. You can camp there for less and can get travel advice or swap DVD’s.  

What do you prefer, travelling by car or public transport? Have you travelled with a campervan before? And did you ever visit space?

[:nl]I’d never expected that my first experience with driving abroad in a campervan would be behind the steering wheel of a spacecraft. Not only does our car goes by the name of ‘spaceships’ (code name ‘Ecto’), even the interior seems to be from a different planet.

Campervans in general excite me. I love the secret corners to stash away loose items and always get a bit emotional from extendible, popping-up and foldable parts that turn a regular car into a complete house on wheels.

Who’s got a chair-freezer at home or a stove -instead of a monster- under his bed? Our spaceship campervan has is all and also comes with a huge sky roof, so we can watch the stars while lying in bed at night.

Travel Experience - Spaceships Campervan Rental

This is Launch Control. The crew are now boarding the spacecraft.

 

We had booked our 2 seater campervan in May 2011 to make a small road trip around Cairns, Australia, for a week. Lucky for us, it’s low season and we only pay AUS $45 a day. About the same price of a compact car! We will save a lot on accommodation this way.

The Spaceships campervan rental office is –a bit inconveniently- located outside the city centre of Cairns and it takes us a fair half hour to walk all the way over there (a bus service was not available when we were there). Only people that come straight from the airport can ask the shuttle driver to drop them off at the office. But as we finally arrive at the office, we’re welcomed and helped straight away.

Because it’s low season, the staff has all the time in the world to explains us patiently about the car and all the accessories that come with it.

From the office, we are allowed to pick any of the leftover items from previous renters, such as pasta, toilet rolls, oil, salt and pepper. Happy as campers, we stock the car. We are even invited to choose 3 DVD’s that we can watch from the built-in DVD player in the car and swap with any other Spaceships drivers we meet on the way.

Our bags fit in the car easily. There is a lot of space in the back of the car, but to get there, you have to lift the rather heavy bed every time you need something. Luckily, we can turn the 3rd seat in the car around and create some extra space for things we need to get to often. That is to say, all my clothes, of course.

Travel Experience - Spaceships Campervan Rental

All systems are go. Ready for lift-off.

With our freshly rented campervan, we drive north up the Captain Cook Highway. We approach the first crossroads with care, as we don’t really know how a car with automatic transmission works and how to end up on the left line after taking a roundabout. When we change directions, we turn on the windscreen wipers and our left feet thinks it should do something, but can’t remember what exactly.

Luckily, the Aussies seem to have a problem with driving as well, as there are signs everywhere, saying to stay in the left lane, to look right, to change to lower gear or give way to passing wildlife and woman drivers.

As soon as we leave the city, we stock up for food, fill the little fridge under our bed and drive into the Northern Beaches area. We connect our iPod to the speakers and continue our way relaxed all the way to Port Douglas, where we enjoy a beautiful sunset at the harbour. The incoming darkness doesn’t worry us too much – until we realize that our headlights don’t seem to be working very well.  We quickly stop at a gas station to check the problem out, but can’t find it immediately. Just as we think we really can’t go on like this, we push a lever we previously just pulled at and the lights start shining.

We’ve got light. Power on. Stand clear…

The best thing about driving with a campervan in Australia, is that there is a lot of place you can stop and camp. There are free public places where you can sleep overnight (with water and toilets) and get really close to beaches or in the middle of the rainforest. And there are camp sites that you pay a little for, but with more security, warm water showers and more comfort.

We have to different ways of using the car. We can either sleep inside (there is a double bed inside), or we can pull out the bed at the rear door and attach a fabric tent-cover over the door (attached to the wheels) to get more ventilation and space inside. We choose this last option, as the fresh air and noises from outside make us sleep like babies. It makes our car look like a spaceship indeed, but it’s really easy to do and worth the little effort.

The locals at Wonga Beach look at our Spaceship with curiosity and a little admiration. Most of them nailed their caravans shut to the floor and even places potted plants and tropical aquariums under their covers.

Having the freedom visit a new place every day is something they seems to appreciate well.

And that’s exactly what we do, we continue onto the Daintree River, follow the Cape Tribulation Road until the road doesn’t go any further. On the way, we find the most amazing boardwalks, learn all about the local flora and fauna in the Daintree Discovery Centre and meet three wild cassowary eye to eye. We celebrate the fact that they didn’t kill us and treat ourselves with handmade ‘wattleseed’ and ‘yellow sapote’ ice cream from the Daintree Ice Company. We also take a little tour through their tropical fruit trees.

 

Travel Experience - Spaceships Campervan Rental

Mission control: 60 seconds of fuel remaining…

The distance between Cape Tribulation and Mareeba is fair, so we make sure we have a full tank. Driving in the Spaceship is so easy, that time flies by and we really enjoy the changing landscape (from green to red) along the way.

In Mareeba, we visit The Coffee Works, the ‘Disneyland for coffee lovers’. Also, for the tea and chocolate lover, there is a lot to take in (literary)

Houston, we’ve got a problem!

At Lake Eacham we see a woman run up to her three year old, that just discovered a python sunbathing under the picnic table. She says we won’t die if it bites us…(“I mean, it will hurt a lot and you still need to see a doctor and all that, but no worries“), but we choose to leave it alone and visit some nearby waterfalls instead.

After exploring the Atherton Tablelands fully, which is great with your own transport, we let the Palmerston and Bruce Highway take us to Babinda. There we visit The Boulders and Devils Pool in the Wooroonooran National Park. We camp on the beach of the very quiet Bramston Beach and look at the Milky Way shine above us that night.

Travel Experience - Spaceships Campervan Rental

The Eagle has landed

Unfortunately, our space adventure has ended now and we have to make our way back to Cairns to say goodbye to our new love on wheels. We absolutely enjoyed driving the bright orange campervan and would love to take another on a road trip later this year.

Driving with a campervan in Australia for us has become:

 

One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.

Travel Experience - Spaceships Campervan Rental

Where? You can rent a Alpha 2 Berth or Beta 2 Berth in Australia (Sydney, Brisbane, Cairns, Melbourne, Darwin and Alice Springs), a  Alpha 2 or 4 Berth, Beta 2 or 4 Berth, 2 Berth Rocket Van (simplified Alpha 2 Berth) and 7 seater People Carrier in New Zealand (Auckland, Christchurch and Queenstown) and the Alpha 2 or 4 Berth, Beta 2 Berth and 8 seater People Carrier in the UK (London). How Much? Depending on low- or high season, please check their website for current prices. 

Website? spaceshipsrentals.com.au / spaceshipsrentals.co.nz / spaceshipsrentals.co.uk

Great Deals? Spaceships has some great deals that will give you discounts on hire and activities in the area. They can also provide you with any accessories you might need for your trip. AUS – NZ – UK Check out the different ‘Space Stations’ all over Australia, New Zealand, the UK and Europe. You can camp there for less and can get travel advice or swap DVD’s.

 

What do you prefer, travelling by car or public transport? Have you travelled with a campervan before? And did you ever visit space?

[:]

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