Van Life Australia: The Rise and Rise of #Vanlife

It’s no secret that Australians love their vans. From the hippies of the 70s to the Instagram stars of today, van life has always been a popular choice for those who want to see the country.

But how did it all start? And what does the future hold?

In this article, we will take a look at the history of van life in Australia and find out why so many people have fallen in love with it!

Van Life Australia… A Growing Movement

In recent years, van life has become increasingly popular thanks to the rise of Instagram stars who post photos, videos (and everything else that Instagram requests of them) using #vanlife to signal their inclusion in a movement that typically involves moving into a converted sprinter van and travelling the country.

Disclaimer: Some of the links in this article may be affiliate links, which can provide me income at no cost to you if you decide to purchase a linked product.

Travel bloggers and social media influencers have helped to show the world that van life (and #vanlife) is a viable option for anyone who wants to see more of the world.

And it’s not just young people who are getting on board.

More and more families are choosing van life as a way to spend quality time together and create lasting memories.

So what’s driving the popularity of van life today?

For some, it’s a need for a lifestyle change. Van life allows people to explore anywhere from the great barrier reef to a national park to the snowy mountains in the comfort of their own little home on wheels.

People are also increasingly looking for ways to disconnect from the digital world and connect with nature. It’s common to find van lifers combingin activities like mountain biking with their van adventure journey and packing outdoor gear into every available storage space to head out into the world on their own terms.

The cost (and risk) of travel also feels like it has risen in recent years, and van life offers a great way to see Australia on a budget.

And finally, I think people are just tired of the traditional way of life and they’re looking for something different. Living in a camper van, staying in caravan parks, or free camping across the country can seriously reduce the cost of living and stretch your hard earned money further. A lot of people, especially solo women are seeing the open road and a tiny home on wheels as a way to live life at their own pace and make the money they have last longer. Increasingly, people are questioning why they are putting in all the work to pay rent and be stuck in the same place day after day.

A Timeline of Van Life Australia Movement


The origins of Van Life Australia can be traced back to the hippies of the 1970s.

These free-spirited individuals were drawn to the vanlife lifestyle for its freedom and flexibility.

The hippie movement of the 70s brought vanlife into the mainstream. Young people were rebelling against the Establishment and they wanted to find a way to live that was more in line with their values.

For many, van life was the perfect solution. It allowed them to connect with nature, escape the rat race, and live a simpler, more authentic life.

Hippie culture was in full swing in Australia during the late 1960s and early 1970s. And like their counterparts in America and Europe, Australian hippies were drawn to van life for its freedom and flexibility.

Most hippies in Australia lived in communes, where they would pool their resources and share the workload. This communal way of living helped to keep costs down, which was important for a lifestyle that was often pursued on a shoestring budget.

While the number of hippies living in vans began to decline in the late 1970s, the vanlife lifestyle continued to be popular among those who wanted to live an alternative lifestyle.

The hippies may have been the first to popularize vanlife, but they certainly weren’t the last.


In the 1980s, vanlife became popular with surfers and other outdoor enthusiasts. The van provided a cheap and convenient way to get to the waves, as well as a comfortable place to sleep after a long day of surfing.


The 1990s saw a resurgence in popularity for vanlife, as more and more young people were drawn to the lifestyle. For many, the van became a symbol of freedom and independence.


Today, vanlife is more popular than ever, thanks in part to social media. Instagram stars and YouTube vloggers have helped to promote the vanlife lifestyle to a wider audience, and many people are now eager to try it for themselves.

The rise of Australian #Vanlife Instagram Stars

In recent years, social media has helped to promote the vanlife lifestyle to a wider audience.

While the number of people living in vans has always been relatively small, the vanlife lifestyle has gained a lot of attention in recent years thanks to social media.

Instagram and YouTube are full of #vanlife content, and many people are now eager to try it for themselves.

Matt and Jess

One of the most popular vanlife influencers is Australian couple Matt and Jess, who have been documenting their travels around the country since 2016.

Their Instagram account, @thevanlifediaries, has over 200,000 followers, and they have also released a book and online course about van life.

The rise of social media has played a big role, as influencers like Matt and Jess have helped to promote the vanlife lifestyle to a wider audience.

Max and Occy

The Australian duo Max and Occy (one of them has 4 legs) have inspired people through their widely popular YouTube channel. It’s hard to watch their adventures and not be interested in changing your fixed location for an adventure in a camper (if even for a night or two!)

Jonny Dustow

Co-founder of Vanlife Diaries. A full-time van lifer calling the east coast of Australia home.

Jared Melrose

Co-founder of Vanlife Diaries, based on the East Coast of Australia.

But it’s not just about Instagram stars – more and more people are looking for ways to live a simpler, more sustainable lifestyle.

If you’re thinking of giving van life a try, be sure to check out their account for inspiration (and some handy tips)!

Can You Live in Your Van in Australia?

The answer is yes! You can live in your van in Australia, but there are a few things you need to know before you hit the road.

First of all, you’ll need to make sure your vehicle is registered and insured. You’ll also need to get a permit if you’re planning on staying in one spot for more than a few days.

Once you’ve sorted out the practicalities, it’s time to start planning your route. Australia is a big country, so you’ll need to decide where you want to go and how long you want to stay there.

Do you need your own van?

No, you don’t need your own van! And you definitely don’t need the perfect van that you engineered with a van conversion company to enjoy this lifestyle.

There are plenty of rental companies available where you can try out the lifestyle and see if it’s for you before jumping in.

You can also get a camper trailer to hook up to your existing vehicle to take road tripping for a spin. While this might not provide the same luxuries that the living space of a converted sprinter van (#vanlife style) may provide, it’s a great way to get started.

Many are even ditching the ‘van’ part of van life altogether, throwing a mattress in the back seat of their car and embarking on road trips for a much-needed break from their 9-5 lives.

You don’t need to look like you are a #vanlife Instagram star to be a van lifer!

If you’re not sure where to start, check out some of the popular vanlife routes below.

How are People Funding Their Van Life Adventures?

Many are finding creative solutions for making money on the road to fund their nomadic lifestyle and live the good life. More people are working remotely, which means they can live anywhere they want.

If your current job is already 100% remote, if you’re happy to trade a daily hot shower for the chance to explore this huge country, then van life makes that a reality.

If you can’t take your current job on the road, we’ve written about jobs you can take on the road in an earlier article.

Am I Too Old for The Van Life Movement?

You might be surprised to learn that older van life culture is exploding! And it’s not just a desire to save money in light of the current housing crisis.

Older van lifers are trading home comforts to long run trips around the country (i.e. ‘the big lap’).

Popular Van Life Road Trip Routes

Here are some suggestions for places to explore.

The Great Ocean Road

The Great Ocean Road is one of the most popular vanlife routes around the country. The road stretches for over 500km along the coast of Victoria, and there are plenty of beautiful beaches and scenic lookout points to explore.

The Gibb River Road

The Gibb River Road is a 660km track that winds through the remote Kimberley region of Western Australia. The road is unsealed and can be challenging to drive, but it’s worth it for the incredible scenery.

The Nullarbor Plain

The Nullarbor Plain is a giant stretch of flat land that covers over 200,000 square kilometres of outback Australia. The Nullarbor is famous for its long straight roads and lack of trees, and it’s a popular destination for those looking to escape the city.

Van life is now big business

The popularity of van life has led to a growth in the number of businesses doing custom campervan builds.

These businesses offer a range of services, from building the van from scratch to converting an existing vehicle into a campervan.

Many of these businesses are based in Australia, and they have been steadily growing in popularity in recent years.

For a list of companies in Australia offering custom van builds, check out our article

Photo by Jake Stone on Unsplash

And for many, the van provides the perfect solution. It’s affordable, mobile, and can be outfitted with everything you need to live comfortably.

What does the future hold?

There’s no telling whether or not the trend of van life will continue to grow, but there’s no doubt that it’s currently still gaining in popularity.

Many people are drawn to the lifestyle for its simplicity and freedom, and there’s no doubt that social media has helped to boost its profile.

So far, there doesn’t seem to be any signs of the popularity of van life slowing down, and it will be interesting to see how it continues to evolve in the years to come.

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