“ Campervan rental service in Australia. „
My girlfriend and I hired a Wicked van from Darwin in March this year. We had nothing but problems, I would advise anyone to steer well clear of this company!
We booked the van through Darwin's tourist office the previous day. They actually recommended Wicked to us.
Our plan was for a one way lease from Darwin to Sydney over four week's.
We arrived to pick our van up on at 10.00am. We went through the necessary paper work before we were shown the van. We left the depot to start our journey.
We didn't get very far before we realised that there had been a misunderstanding at the tourist office and we had booked a vehicle without air-conditioning. Considering the time we were planning to have the van, the distances we would travel and the temperatures we would encounter this would be a big problem.
We returned to the depot and explained the situation. We were prepared to pay the extra for a van with air-conditioning and were shown another vehicle. This would have been simple if it wasn't for the fact that even the mechanic couldn't figure out how to collapse the rear seats to form the bed. The idea of renting a camper-van is that you can sleep in it so obviously this one was useless.
After stating this we were offered a four wheel drive vehicle that was equipped with air-conditioning and appeared to have a suitable sleeping area. We agreed that we would take it and would return in an hour allowing them time to ensure the vehicle was ready.
We returned to collect the new van an hour later (it was now around 1.00pm). We filled in the paper-work and were shown around the van before we left, relived that we were now on our way.
The relief didn't last long! We had driven about 100 meters when there was a loud rubbery noise and a burning smell. I thought to start with that I had a flat tire. We called your help-line and we were told to return to the depot. When we got out of the van we saw the belts off the front of the engine as they fell to the floor underneath the van. This does not exactly install confidence in the reliability of their vehicles.
If it hadn't been for the fact that we were egar to get on the road we would have cancelled our booking and found a another rental company!
A rather embarrassed member of staff then offered us one of their premium campers, it was so late in the day and we had to make up so much time that we accepted it straight away hoping that the previous problems were just bad luck.
A few day's later, on our way south along the Stuart Highway we thought we'd make use of the vehicles sun-roof. It opened electrically as it should, when we came to close it; it stopped short and a warning light appeared next to the switch. It was starting to get dark and the weather forecast was for rain. It was clearly stuck so we improvised, covering it with a plastic bag.
We very soon reached Alice Springs and decided it would be best to pay a visit to your depot to get it fixed. Here we met another Wicked employee: Danny. Danny attempted to fix it but obviously didn't have the tool's or the knowledge to solve the problem. At one stage he even told us that we might have to pay for it to be repaired, this made me quite angry. The problem was a vehicle fault that was certainly not caused by the way we had used it.
It turned out that it was a common fault and that the sun-roof should have been de-activated but hadn't. This again show's a lack of professionalism in this company. Firstly- it hadn't been de-activated when it was claimed it should have been and secondly- if you provide a camper-van for lease surely all of the equipment on the van should be functioning? If there are common faults such as this one maybe they should consider replacing that vehicle with one that is more reliable?
Surely the logical solution for our situation would have been to refer us to an auto-glazing company who would be more qualified to fix the sun-roof? Instead we had to wait for Danny to find something to cover the roof with to keep water out until we reached Sydney. This again took more of our time, we had not intended to spend an extra day in Alice Springs. In the end all Danny did was to tape the edges of the sun-roof and advise us to buy our own tape should it come off. Again this did not exactly fill us with confidence; there has been record levels of heavy rain in Northern Australia this year has there not?
We arrived in Sydney on . The van was due to be returned at 3.00pm, we left Darling Harbour at 1.30pm believing that we had left a very generous length of time to reach the depot within the same city. We had been given a map to find the Sydney depot on George Street, this made it slightly difficult because there appeared to by two George Street's in Sydney. Also the map did not show how to get there from the city centre. We were struggling to find our way, stopping for directions several times. At 2.30pm we called the depot to ask for directions, the lady we spoke to had no idea how to direct us even though we gave her the precise address of where we were and offered no help. We struggled along, asking for directions from several people. It seam's even locals were confused by their map, what chance did we have?
We called again at 3.50pm to explain that we were lost and that we needed directions. We were now outside Apollo camper-vans, we told her this and the only help we were given was "your not far away". She told us quite rudely that she had to leave at 4.00 to collect a child form school (very strange during the Easter holiday) and that there was no one else there who could help us (yet we passed one of their employees in a camper-van just minuets before we eventually found the depot). We were then told that if we arrived after 4.00pm we would have to "leave the key on top of the exhaust pipe". I had absolutely no intention of doing this! As I see it that vehicle is my responsibility until my bond (a substantial amount of money) is returned. What would have happened if the van had been taken, with the key's from an unlocked yard over-night?
Eventually we asked for some help in the Apollo office, we assumed that being a rental company they would have a better chance of knowing where your depot was. One of their employee's actually volunteered to come with us and show us the way. It goes to show that some company's are willing to be helpful.
We arrived at the Wicked depot at 4.15pm to find, as expected, that no one was there. I would have no complaint about this if it wasn't for the fact we had asked for help and directions and given nothing. Not being to leave the key's in an unsafe place we left the van but took the key's with us.
We returned to the depot (taking up more of our time and unnecessary expense) first thing in the morning to return the key's. We tried to explain to the staff that we were not happy but as always we were presented with blank faces and indifference. We filled in a small review card describing some of the issues we had with the van. We have had no response from that card which mean's I can only presume it has either been discarded or ignored. Either way I find this incredibly rude seeing as we took the time to fill it in.
This was the first time we had ever hired a vehicle, had we been aware of what most company's provided in the way of service we would have steered well clear of Wicked.
The quality of the vehicle we were provided with was exceptionally poor. In their advertisement's it say's "a large comfortable bed"; we are not tall people but our feet over hung the end of the bed, so it is neither large or comfortable. It was dirty when we picked it up and ill equipped for the job. Surely in a camper-van that has cooking equipment should come with a fire extinguisher? We found a dust-pan but no brush, pretty useless, especially as we as the customer are expected to clean the vehicle.
When we first collected the vehicle we were given no advice about where we were and were not supposed to camp. We were not provided with any map's or given any advice about driving on Australia's road's. This is actually quite shocking! We had explained the route we were planning on taking the vehicle which included some very remote areas where mobile phone coverage is minimal. We were not advised about the vast distances between fuel stations or the need to take food and water with us. Luckily we had already received that advice from other party's but their employees were not to know that. It is scary to think that they would allow someone out on the road in some quite hazardous environments without vital safety information.
Every hire company I have used since ensure that there vehicles are professionally valteted between customers. One lady at a camping ground actually said to me that she believed your campers looked unsafe and shouldn't be on the road.
It appears to me that Wicked camper-vans use a fun concept, fluffy hand-cuffs (also not in the van) and interesting paint-work to cover a shoddy, unprofessional service.
My boyfriend and I are from Canada and were in Brisbane visiting friends and wanted to go north to Airlie beach. We figured since all we would ever see driving down the roads were these wicked painted up vans. Even though we had heard all the horror stories, and rented the can the exact same week that dateline (I think) did a wicked van story, we decided to go for it anyways. Had so much fun! Having the sink in the back was so handy, we didn't use the table but we knew we always had the option to, and it was super easy to drive (these things turn on a dime!). The van we had (robotech, not sure what it was) was in super condition, nice and clean, all the engines vitals looked good and the booklets and pamphlets were nice to pass the time.
We would reccommend this company to any other of our travelling hobo friends as we had a really good time.
I wasn't really happy with wicked, when I hired a camper of them 3 months ago. We were 3 people and didn't have enough space at all, even when it was advertised for 3 people. We actually had to buy a tent, because we didn't fit in there all together. Our camper was in a bad condition and we had some mechanical problems, therefore we had to spent too much time in garages instead of driving around (which was actually our plan...). The other problem was, that one seat in the front gets so hot (engine is under it), that the person needs to sit on towels. First it was funny, but it started to be horrible the warmer it got.
I would recommend to spend a little bit more and get a better car, so that you are able to enjoy your trip and you feel safer one the road.
**The Company Info**
Wicked is a rental company in Australia that specialises in unique campervans for backpackers/travellers on a low budget. They also have branches across the world and seem to be rapidly expanding. If you have done any travelling around Australia, you no doubt will have seem them driving around, they are literally everywhere.
**Booking the van**
Last year I studied in Adelaide for 5 months and then my girlfriend came over to come travelling me. We wanted to travel for six weeks, down the whole of the East Coast, and after checking out the options, renting a cheap campervan was our best bet. Wicked have have been in the press repeatedly for their controversial marketing and the 'graffiti-style' paint job they have on their vans. Some of them feature quite sexist slogans both on the side and on the back, so make sure if you have any special requirements when hiring a van for moral/religious/embarrassment needs then let them know.
We decided we wanted a huge adventure, and decided to drive from Cairns to Adelaide. As I was 20 at the time, most campervan companies would not let me hire a van, despite having a full clean driving licence for 3 years. My partner was 21. Wicked Campers lets people over the age of 18 rent a van, as long as they have a valid driving licence. If you are age under 21 you will have to pay slightly more insurance, around $15 a day so make sure you calculate this in. However, this was the cheapest option for us.
Our van hire was $49 and then $33 a day respectively, working out at around £15 per day per person. We went with the cheapest van because we weren't bothered about the air conditioning as we were travelling during the Australian winter. This was our travel and most accommodation sorted. Petrol was obviously extra, though cheaper than the UK make sure you have adequate budget for this. It is a good point to note that it is cheaper in Australia to fill up on a Tuesday or Wednesday, and at supermarket petrol stations. You can generally save around 15 cents per litre by avoiding the weekends. We looked at all the options and worked out it was cheaper to hire a van from Cairns to Brisbane, then change vans. Even though there was a $200 one-way-fee... hiring it from Brisbane to Adelaide worked out cheaper per day and better overall. So that is what we did.
**Picking it up**
We sorted out all of the booking online, and this was confirmed to us and we got sent a map of the depot location. We got a cheap flight from Adelaide to Cairns, and stayed in a horrific backpackers hostel, but that's another story. The next day we managed to grab a taxi from the hostel to the campervan place, the taxi driver knew it well. On arrival, the depot was more like a house with a garden full of campervans, on walking in we were greeted by friendly laid back staff, who showed us to our van - incase you're wondering, we had a van that said "Everytime you fart you lose 0.00001% of your braincells"... and some lovely slogan on the back about visiting the toilet. We were far too excited about our imminant trip to care. The depot also had a section where you could pick up stuff for free, this it where backpackers going home could dump their excess stuff off and people could re-use it. This came in really handy for us, we picked up a few extra blankets, a bucket, and some stuff like salt and tomato ketchup. The van we hired had 3 seats, we just wanted more flexibility though it cost the same price as a 2-seater. We sorted out the relevant paperwork and the huge deposit incase of damage - I think it was around $700 or more. Then after a quick demo from the staff we were off.
We had the first van for ten days, we loved it from day one. We quickly adjusted to using an automatic vehicle for the first time. It was a Mitchubusi, unsure of all the technical information about it unfortunately, but it worked! It had good dashboard and glove compartment space to stash your maps and guide books, and the back is arranged so you can either have it set up with a table and 2 'sofa-style' chairs, or change it into a double bed. It had storage compartments under the bed and there was enough place to shove all of our gear. The back had a "kitchen" which consisted of a small worktop, a sink (which you could pump water up through a water bottle on the floor), a couple of shelves. They also provide the very basics for cooking - two pans, plates, cups, cutlery. There is also a gas bottle with a stove on the top that you have to pull out of the van to cook on. The kitchen could be accessed by opening the boot. The last thing this van had was any hint of luxury. This is cheap, backpacker, slumming-it style travelling. It was perfect.
I could go on and on about how amazing our journey was... and tell you everything we did, but this would take hours and you'd be falling asleep, so I'll just say the highlights. On the first leg, we decided to drive upwards to go to Cape Tribulation as even though it wasn't in the main direction of travel, we didn't want to miss it. We drove around 2,500 miles in total. We saw rainforest, we slept next to deserted beaches, we had a romantic dinner in the park at Byron Bay, all made using our campervan 'kitchen'.
Even though at first, finding places to park without paying a camping fee, preferably near public toilets was a chore, it became exciting. On one day, we used a cold public shower at the side of the road. It had a lockable door and we just made the most of everything. We found coconuts next to the beach in Port Douglous and spent nearly an hour getting into them using a butter knife. Driving is nothing like driving in England, hardly any traffic jams, long stretches of open roads, interesting things to see along the way.
We used a 'Lonely Planet' Guidebook, which can be quite expensive but we got it second-hand in Cairns. We just kept having to ring to confirm opening times etc as the book was a couple of years old. We also used maps and highlighted them at each step of the journey. Some days we only drove for an hour, some we drove for 6 or 7 broken up. I did most of the driving.
At one point, my partner forgot that we were driving an automatic and got really confused going for the clutch, and couldn't hit the brake. That would usually be ok, except we were driving onto the concrete 'ferry' block to take us across the Daintree River, which was full of crocodiles, and we nearly provided them with breakfast!
We did stay in campsites a couple of times a week to have a shower, wash our clothes etc, you will probably need to factor in this cost unless you are extremely smelly. Some campsites have affiliation with Wicked Campers and offer a discount, so make sure you check this out too!
**Foster- Our Next Campervan**
We changed campervans at Brisbane, the depot is AN ABSOLUTE nightmare to find, so give yourself PLENTY of time to get there, you don't want to get fined.
The next campervan 'Foster' was smaller than the other and I preferred to drive it as it was a manual engine. It had all the same features as the other van, thought it only had two seats. It was easier to park and fine to handle.
Both campervans we had had bumps and dents on them, it's quite good though as they don't charge you for scratches, bumps etc.
**Dropping off the Campervans**
When we dropped them off we had them checked over incase of damage, everything was deemed to be fine and we then got some free Wicked Camper memorabilia, I wouldn't recommend using some the bumper stickers they have on your car back home, you might scare your Grandparents!! The deposit went back into my bank account within ten days and I also received a follow up email asking me about my experiences.
Our trip was a once-in-a-lifetime experience and I am over the moon to say to people that I drove 2,500 miles down the coast of Oz, not too many people can say that. The campervan hire cost less than £700 each for 6 weeks, which I didn't feel was bad at all. It works out at about £16 a day each. You can save 10% off hire by booking a subsequent hire in any of the countries they operate in. They also have crazy offers on - they ran one a few weeks ago whereby if you turned up naked to hire your van you got the first day free. It is surprising the number of people that actually did that.... see pics on website to prove it!
The website and easy of booking/use of campervans is good, and there are loads of tips, stories and photographs from other travellers. The best part about using a Wicked Camper was feeling like we were part of a community experience, every time we passed another Wicked Camper it seemed the law to wave your arms off, flash your lights and beep your horn.
What a Wicked Road Trip!!!!
I picked up my Wicked Camper van from Brisbane in Australia. The staff at the rental depot were very friendly and explained everything that we needed to know about the camper van. They even showed us how to check the oil and water in the engine! Our camper van was a conversion from a Kia panel van, basic but very functional. The kitchen is accessed via the back of the van and the rest of the vans' interior convets to a bed, under which you can store all your luggage. We were provided with an atlas of Australia as well as basic cooking equipment. It also had side windows with curtains. We were given complimentary playing cards, dusters and postcards!
All the Wicked vans are painted with a different theme. Ours was the 'Viagra' van which meant it had blue pills painted on it and the slogan 'What keeps you up at night?' written across the back. We certainly got some looks driving around in it!
We had a lot of fun cruising around in our van for the week and it was very good value too. If you are on a budget and don't want a brand new motor home, then I would recommend Wicked.
For more information, see their website: