@75vibes_ Breakdown What It's Like To Road Trip & Van Life Around Australia In Their Kombi, Stella
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17th Jul | 6 min read

Jordan and Tia are adventure photographers and travel enthusiasts. Together they are 75Vibes, a couple on a van life journey around Australia, in their 1975 VW Kombi, Stella, accompanied by their cute little puppy, Zenna. 

Why We Decided To Travel Around Australia

When we met back in 2015, we camped in the sand dunes of Western Australia. In the following months, we spent every weekend possible exploring different beaches from Margaret River to Lancelin. 

From then, we never stopped looking for the next place to sleep under the stars. It was our passion for exploring the outdoors which brought us together. So, buying Stella and road-tripping Australia was a natural progression for us and our journey.  

All About Stella

We found Stella after becoming obsessed with vintage Kombi’s back in 2017. The photos taken by summerofseventyfive and elisecook showed us how beautiful life can truly be on the road. 

We decided we didn’t want to just see places. We wanted to experience each place with the best vibes possible and Stella offered more vibes we could have imagined. 

Stella was AUD $20k when we purchased her, and we fully renovated her ourselves. We spent a further AUD $11k to replace the engine and build out the inside. It was a huge job that took us almost an entire year. 

On the interior, we installed a queen-sized rock’n roll bed, linen curtains, and a pull-out kitchen/ bench. We made our own cupboards and shelving to store all our clothes and belongings. Then we decorated Stella with a boho feel which we love. 

On the exterior, we installed our roof rack, a roo bar, and spare tyre holder. Then mechanically we had our original 2L engine completely rebuilt and new suspension and tyres installed.

We have broken down a lot and have been towed too many times to count but the worst one came last November in Mackay, Queensland. 

We had journeyed through the hills of the Atherton Tablelands and were heading south to Airlie Beach. As we came through Mackay our engine was coughing and backfiring so bad Stella completely stopped. There was no compression to accelerate further and we knew we needed help. 

Sitting in the rain by the side of the Freeway we reached out to friends who lived close by. It was amazing how much help we received from all.kombi.adventures and her family. Bonnie has a 1974 Kombi called Clyde. 

We had met Bonnie in Esperance earlier in 2020 and Bonnie’s family lived locally in town. So, before we knew it, we had a place to stay, a hot meal, and her dad and brother had their head under the hood. 

It was a week later when parts arrived that we took off again after two new gaskets, a new coil, a service, and a brand-new automatic ignition. Stella has not missed a beat since, and we learned so much during our time broken down with Bonnie.

Our Plan

Originally, we planned to loop the South coast of Australia from Shark Bay, WA across the Nullabor to The Great Ocean Road. We knew we could then jump on the Spirit of Australia over to Tassie. 

However, due to COVID19 many state borders closed in April 2020 and once we had finished our Western Australia itinerary we were stopped at the South Australian border. 

We made the decision to head from Esperance WA, directly to Byron Bay. A 3,500km drive which took us eight days. One day we will make it back down to the Great Ocean Road and Tasmania. 

Instead, we did a road trip from Byron Bay up to The Daintree Rainforest in far North Queensland. A four-month journey which we took very slowly. 

In the kombi, we don’t move as fast as anyone else. If you asked any of our buddies on the road, they would tell you we are super slow. Once we find a spot we like, we stop and fully enjoy it. 

We often decide on the next spot to visit by checking out photos on Pinterest or Instagram. So many people have beautiful photos and blogs which is our main source of inspiration when travelling.

Items That We Have To Carry

Our travels have taken us to some remote areas across Australia. Packing well is super important to having a successful trip and over time we have mastered the use of space in our van. 

One item we always carry with us is a micro-fiber towel. We are in the ocean most days and our towels have to be compact, absorbent, and quick dry. Otherwise, we get a wet, damp smell inside the van which is not pleasant. 

Our other must-have items – insulated water bottles. We each like to have good clean water available so we carry our hydro flasks with us everywhere. We recently began using a product called Purinize which is a drop that cleans any bugs out of our drinking water. We love how it makes our water taste as well.

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How We Kept Costs Low

We have been on the road for more than 14 months in Australia and we enjoy finding ways to save money and make life on the road easier and more enjoyable.

The most common tip we share is to download a travel app like WikiCamps. Apps like these offer thousands of free camps where you can safely sleep for zero dollars. We have paid for very little accommodation on our trip (like almost none). Yet we have slept in some incredible places. 

These apps not only offer great spots to free camp but also where to access water and phone reception. Australia is a big place with a small population so finding phone service can often be a struggle. 

We always read the reviews on potential camping spots and check out the photos before we arrive. It makes for a pleasant sleep and we get to meet fellow travellers wherever we go. 

Worst Piece Of Advice About Road Tripping Australia

The worst advice we ever received was to try fruit picking in Margaret River. The labour involved in picking grapes all day is horrible and the money the farmers offer is so low it should be illegal. 

Farm work in Australia can be a great way to make quick cash while tripping around, however finding a trustworthy farm which pays reasonable rates is really difficult. 

Biggest Challenges We Faced

The harsh climate in Australia has really pushed us to our limit. It began with the heat in Western Australia. As we made our way up the coast from Perth to Monkey Mia the dry heat from the desert got up to 45C. 

It was shortly after this time that Australia experienced some intense fires known as Black Summer (2019-20). 

More recently we experienced flooding and landslides in New South Wales. As we travelled inland near Dorrigo many road closures stopped us from making our way south so we were pushed to the coast. 

The torrential rain was non-stop for three weeks and as many vanlifers know, the inside of your van becomes very confined. 

Our Favourite Memory - So Far

We loved exploring the south-west corner of Australia. In particular an area of Western Australia called Esperance. The empty white sand beaches and raw beauty of this place felt like a touch of heaven. 

We have experienced some incredible places on our travel’s, but it was in Esperance that we were most inspired to create. We look back on our time there with loads of nostalgia and we can’t wait to spend more time there next year. 

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