Welcome to the New Look DriveNow


Drivenow Car Hire logo

DriveNow, today is Australia’s most popular online Car and Campervan comparison site.

After almost 10 years of providing the very best in online Car and Campervan rental booking services, we have given our site a major revamp. This refresh has been completed thanks to the valuable feedback from loyal DriveNow customers. Your comments and compliments have been used to map our future and the services we offer you.

3 Key aspects to the new look:

    1. Search and Booking Process stays the same
      The number one comment we receive is – DriveNow is a great comparison and booking tool, don’t change anything!   We have certainly listened to this and ensured that the soul of DriveNow remains the same.   Our focus has been to refresh the look and feel of the site to make it even cleaner and visually easier to navigate and use.Here are some of the most recent comments to highlight this feedback.

“Overall, a good site – great to be able to compare companies and have all classes of vehicles available to choose from. Keep it going!! “

“Don’t fiddle with it. I like it because it is simple, basic and fast. I will keep using it as long as it stays that way. Try to resist the urge to over-engineer it, to be all things to all people. It never works.”

“Love your site. It is easy to navigate and all of the information required to easy to see at a glance.”

“After encountering a number of other confusing sites, I found yours well laid out and easy to use.”

“Really like how everything is clearly posted and compared side by side.”

“I am a regular DriveNow website user and this year alone have booked 5 cars via your site. It is extremely user friendly and provides exactly the info I am seeking on one web page”

  1. Highlight Specials and great Deals
    As the number of suppliers, vehicles and optionally extras have increased, so has the number of great deals and specials for our customers.  We believe the new site allows for a clearer and improved presentation of these deals and therefore easier access for our customers.
  2. Uncluttered and Fresh
    We have taken the opportunity to focus on what’s important to our customers and accommodate more Suppliers, Product and the best rates and availability for both Car and Campervan rental.

So, once again, thank you to all our loyal customers and especially those who have taken the time to provide valuable feedback. This process is never ending, please keep using our post travel surveys, emails, phone calls, blogs, etc to tell us what you think.

The team at DriveNow


Perth to Broome Campervan Tale – Grey Power Touring

By Australia / Broome / Perth / Western Australia /

On the must do list was finding out what it was like to join the “grey army “that travels around the camping grounds of outback Western Australia and escapes the Melbourne winter.

In May 2010 We convinced friends to join us – 4 people, two vans and plenty of open road. As non-seasoned campers the starting point was the DriveNow website to look at options for Campervan Rental in Western Australia.

Being chardonnay travellers we settled on a Mauri motor home with on board kitchen shower and toilet facilities. The planned route over 30 days was Perth to Broome via the coast and inland to Tom Price and the Pilbara region.

The DriveNow website made arrangements easy but we arrived at the Maui office in Perth for check in with some trepidation. The efficient reassuring staff provided a DVD of the on board facilities and their operation -gas /taking on water /power/and the toilet discharge.

First task was to turn right out of the Maui site onto the 6 lane Great Eastern Highway. Fortunately a generous driver sensing a novice in charge of a van gave way and we were off on the great adventure! We headed to stock up with supplies at the supermarket – A parking spot nowhere near any other cars was definitely the way to go at this early stage!

On the highway driving the van was effortless with our initial destination Crevantes on the coast 250 km north of Perth and home to the world famous Pinnacles Desert of natural limestone structures.

The Crevantes camping ground set the scene for many days to follow- connect in power /fill up with water and then join in “happy hour ” which goes on for more than the hour.

Then onto Port Dennison and Horricks. Both small fishing villages with camping grounds near the water.

HMAS Sydney Memorial Geraldton WAThe first major town is Geraldton site of the memorial to HMS Sydney with an outstanding foreshore museum. Scenic flight over the Abrolhos islands a must do.

Next stop Kalbarri 500km from Perth . Another idyllic seaside town where the pelicans come in for their morning feed and a tour into the nearby Kalbarri National park with stunning gorges.

Highway driving is easy although our travelling companions made the fatal error of pulling off the road for sight seeing and promptly became bogged after recent rain. Fortunately the grey army are passing in vast numbers and are well equipped to tow you out . But the number of dead kangaroo,sheep and cattle is evidence of the perils of driving at dusk or night.

Camping sites are all well situated with excellent facilities .The professional campers arrive with all manner of extras -outdoor areas /satellite dishes /portable washing machines etc.

Now to Denham and the world famous Monkey Mia Resort in Shark Bay where dolphins play in the shallows and boat cruises take you to see dugongs (10% of worlds population), giant turtles and dolphins. Off shore is Dirk Hartog island a peaceful retreat.

After 8 days on the road the task of emptying the toilet canister came to the top of the list, but lo and behold the canister was stuck .The frightening thought of a hot sun and maturing effluent was contemplated, however fortunately a roadside mechanic came to our rescue and fixed the problem.

Coral Bay the next site is 1150km from Perth and looks like a set from those beach movies. You snorkel within the marine park with huge fish of all colours and coral reefs and come night-time the local pub is the centre of great nightime activity and a haven for backpackers.

A short distance on is Exmouth and the Cape Range National Park where we camped right on the beachCape Range National Park Exmouth WA without power and water. A real back to nature experience with more swimming in the Ningaloo Marine Park. At the right time of year you can see the world’s largest whale sharks, manta rays and passing whales .Catch fish for dinner. It’s not hard to see why many travellers end up camping here for weeks.

Leaving the coast a long days drive to Tom Price in the Pilbara and home to the huge Rio Tinto uranium mine .A tour of the mine is a must do  with a purpose built town an oasis in the desert.

Nearby more rough camping (as rough as it gets in a 4 star van ) in the Karijini National park with stunning views of gorges and shady swimming pools surrounded by huge red cliffs.

The red dust follows you everywhere. A trip with a 4 wheel drive operator into rough terrain is the way to go as the vehicle shudders itself to breaking point, however the views are genuinely breathtaking.

Back to civilization via Port Hedland (a place to pass through and not stop) and onto 80 mile beach 300 km south of Broome .A camping ground virtually on the beach where many grey army come for 6 months. What can only be described as monstrous beach (a cut lunch required form shore to sea ) produced a monstrous fish caught at dusk. A real lazy haven.

Then on route to Broome a roadtrain spays us with rocks and a cracked window Not bad enough to stop travelling and fortunately the insurance taken out with RACV covers the cost for a  modest premium.

Finally Broome. Great weather for the last 4 weeks becomes perfect. Nothing to do except ride camels on the beach, sip cold drinks at the beach bar of the renowned Cable Beach Resort and contemplate how the “grey army” have got it so right.

Colin C


2011 Rugby World Cup New Zealand – Finding a Motorhome Rental



Ina little over a year the 2011 Rugby World Cup kicks off with New Zealand taking on Tonga in the opening game at Eden Park in Auckland on Friday 9th September 2011.  For those planning on attending the Cup, it’s fast approaching time to think about accommodation and how best to travel between matches.

With 40 matches and 12 venues spread across the North and South Islands travelling between venues will involve hitting the roads or airports and organising hotel accommodation in each location.

However, an increasingly popular alternative to emerge during recent Rugby Tours has been motorhome rental. Why rent a car and book accommodation separately when you can combine the two, throw in the flexibility of taking your bedroom with you and explore New Zealand between games!

These days Motorhomes are superbly equipped with complete kitchens, full bathroom facilities, TV and DVD players, easy to drive and can sleep from 2 up to 6. With Campervan Parks across New Zealand there’s no shortage of places to pull up overnight.

During the last British and Irish Lions Tour of New Zealand in 2005 the popularity of motorhome rental saw vehicles sell out quickly and there’s no doubt getting in early will be the best approach for 2011, to not only secure the right vehicle but also lock in the best rate. Rental rates have a nasty habit of rising the closer you get to an event or pick up date, as supply starts to dry up with ever increasing demand.

Booking a Motorhome or Campervan through DriveNow today involves no deposit and no credit card details. Your vehicle will be booked and secured in your name and full payment is not required until 6 weeks prior to pick up, so around late July 2011 for picking up in the second week of September.

With DriveNow you get to compare the latest New Zealand Rugby World Cup Motorhome Rental rates from leading suppliers including Britz, Apollo, Maui, Kea Campers and Backpacker Campervan Rentals, all on the one website, not only finding the best deals available but also saving you time and effort in internet surfing.

2011 New Zealand Rugby World Cup Schedule

Pool A
New Zealand

Pool B
Play-off Winner

Pool C

Pool D
South Africa

All Games Played on North Island in –

New Plymouth

All Games played on South Island except the last 3

North Island
Palmerston North

South Island

Games split between South and North Islands

North Island
New Plymouth

South Island

All Games Played on North Island

New Plymouth





9 September A New Zealand v Tonga Auckland – Eden Park
10 September B Scotland v Play-off Winner Invercargill – Rugby Park Stadium
10 September D Fiji v Namibia Rotorua – Rotorua International Stadium
10 September A France v Japan Auckland – North Harbour Stadium
10 September B Argentina v England Christchurch – Stadium Christchurch
11 September C Australia v Italy Christchurch – Stadium Christchurch
11 September C Ireland v USA New Plymouth – Stadium Taranaki
11 September D South Africa v Wales Wellington – Wellington Regional Stadium
14 September D Samoa v Namibia Rotorua – Rotorua International Stadium
14 September A Tonga v Canada Whangarei – Northland Events Centre
14 September B Scotland v Georgia Dunedin – Carisbrook
15 September C Russia v USA New Plymouth – Stadium Taranaki
16 September A New Zealand v Japan Hamilton – Waikato Stadium
17 September B Argentina v Play-off Winner Invercargill – Rugby Park Stadium
17 September D South Africa v Fiji Wellington – Wellington Regional Stadium
17 September C Australia v Ireland Auckland – Eden Park
18 September D Wales v Somoa Hamilton – Waikato Stadium
18 September B England v Georgia Christchurch – Stadium Christchurch
18 September A France v Canada Napier – McLean Park
20 September C Italy v Russia Nelson – Trafalgar Park
21 September A Tonga v Japan Whangarei – Northland Events Centre
22 September D South Africa v Namibia Auckland – North Harbour Stadium
23 September C Australia v USA Wellington – Wellington Regional Stadium
24 September B England v Play-off Winner Dunedin – Carisbrook
24 September A New Zealand v France Auckland – Eden Park
25 September D Fiji v Samoa Auckland – Eden Park
25 September C Ireland v Russia Rotorua – Rotorua International Stadium
25 September B Argentina v Scotland Christchurch – Stadium Christchurch
26 September D Namibia v Wales New Plymouth – Stadium Taranaki
27 September A Canada v Japan Napier – McLean Park
27 September C Italy v USA Nelson – Trafalgar Park
28 September B Georgia v Play-off Winner Palmerston North – Arena Manawatu
30 September D South Africa v Samoa Auckland – North Harbour Stadium
1 October C Australia v Russia Christchurch – Stadium Christchurch
1 October A France v Tonga Wellington – Wellington Regional Stadium
1 October B England v Scotland Auckland – Eden Park
2 October B Argentina v Georgia Palmerston North – Arena Manawatu
2 October A Canada v New Zealand Wellington – Wellington Regional Stadium
2 October D Fiji v Wales Hamilton – Waikato Stadium
2 October C Ireland v Italy Dunedin – Carisbrook
8 October QF1 W Pool C v RU Pool D Wellington – Wellington Regional Stadium
8 October QF2 W Pool B v RU Pool A Christchurch – Stadium Christchurch
9 October QF3 W Pool D v RU Pool C Wellington – Wellington Regional Stadium
9 October QF4 W Pool A v RU Pool B Christchurch – Stadium Christchurch
15 October SF1 Winner QF1 v Winner QF2 Auckland – Eden Park
16 October SF2 Winner QF3 v Winner QF4 Auckland – Eden Park
21 October Bronze Final Auckland – Eden Park
23 October Final Auckland – Eden Park

How Does the Green Machine Roll on?


NOT so long ago the Toyota Prius was the only option available to environmentally conscious car renters in their bid to fly the “green” flag. But in the words of a legendary singer/songwriter, those times are “a-changing”.

Much has happened since the Prius reached Australian shores in 2000, but the choice of “affordable” hybrids has broadened only marginally with Honda’s Civic and the much-vaunted release of Toyota’s Camry Hybrid in February.

Rental companies traditionally have kept the Prius as their green vehicle of choice and this is still very much in vogue. However, the popularity of the Camry brand and its larger capacity will drive change within rental green fleets. Only Hertz offers the Hybrid Camry on their books, but watch this space as other rental companies come into play in the near future.

As the Hybrid show rolls on, manufacturers of traditional carbon-fuelled vehicles have not merely been sitting idle. A new generation of small compact cars has emerged to dominate the Low Carbon Emission charts and become increasingly popular on the world’s roads. In fact, a quick glance at the Australian Government’s Green Vehicle Guide website ( reveals that of the Top 10 Performer spots only two, the Prius and Camry Hybrid, are hybrid-based. All the other vehicles are 100% petrol-based.

Before we get too carried away with the idea that petrol vehicles “out-green” the hybrids, there are those little matters of engine and vehicle size to consider. The non-hybrid entries in the Top 10 Green list all have smaller engines than their Hybrid cousins and all are smaller cars. Interestingly, the popular Volkswagen Golf Trendview has emerged recently to slip into ninth position right behind the Hybrid Camry, and another 1.4-litre vehicle to hit the Top 10 is Alfa’s Mito. However, the top end of the Top 10 is dominated by small cars with the smallest engines; in fact, No.2 on the list is one of the world’s smallest cars, Mercedes Smart Fortwo, with a 1-litre engine and room for 2 and no more.

This engine and vehicle size does appear to limit their appeal in Australia. This is evident when you switch across and view the greenvehicleguide’s top 10 best sellers list, headed by the Holden Commodore at a commendable 4 stars – given we are talking about a 6 speed 3 litre full size family vehicle. The rest of the top 10 is dominated by 3 to 3.5 star vehicles with only the Toyota Yaris at number 10 coming in with 5 stars and sharing a top 10 ranking in both best Performers and best Sellers.

Clearly we have some way to go before these 2 top 10 lists overlap and it’s likely that the addition of the Camry Hybrid will go some way towards that in broadening the appeal of the Hybrid offering in family sized vehicles; however the price differential between Hybrid and pure petrol based cars still present challenges and this price difference is equally present in the rental market. It will be interesting to see whether the novelty in renting the new Camry Hybrid translates into a long term love affair with Australia’s travelling public. On a broader theme whether the Camry can become the first Hybrid to crack Australia’s top 20 best seller list remains to be seen.

DriveNow enables you to compare pricing on car and campervan rental across Australia and New Zealand. You can book the Toyota Camry Hybrid and other Hybrid rental vehicles by visiting

DriveNow Partner and sometime Blog Contributor

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Bellarine Peninsula – Point Lonsdale

By Victoria /

Looking to escape for a weekend or just a quick day trip out of Melbourne?
Perhaps a Summer break in Point Lonsdale …….

point-lonsdale-mapGetting there is easy. From Melbourne head over the West Gate Bridge down towards Geelong and follow the sign postings (B110) for the Bellarine Peninsula and Queenscliff. Travel time is around 90 minutes from the city. If you’ve collected a rental car from Melbourne Airport you’d be looking at roughly the same time via the Western Ring Road and if you arrive via Avalon Airport you’re half way there as the airport is just outside Geelong.

Point Lonsdale is relatively quiet when compared to more popular summer destinations around Melbourne such as Sorrento, Anglesea, Torquay or Lorne. There’s no pub, a scattering of rather busy coffee and breakfast cafes, an excellent IGA supermarket and don’t forget to check out Kelp, a great little Café restaurant for a bite or just a quick drink, all located across the road from the bayside beach making for a perfect family holiday environment. The Back beach offers great surf and at low tide the rock pools create hours of fun for all the kids.

On the first Sunday after Christmas the Rip View Swim Classic is swum. This 1.4km swim from Springs Beach to the Point Lonsdale Front Beach is one of the big three Open Water Swims along with the Lorne Pier to Pub and Portsea Swim Classic. A great day and one of the more gentle swims being conducted within the bay.

So to the beaches, well to be honest you’re spoilt for choice in this. A handful include:

  • Point Lonsdale Nippers
      • Santa Casa (known locally as Nun’s Beach ) on the right as you drive into Queenscliff. Great for kids and never too crowded. For those with dogs the Point Lonsdale end of Nun’s caters for our 4 legged buddies. Each December-January Point Lonsdale Life Saving Club runs its annual Nippers program on Nun’s with some 300 children taking part in a condensed Program over 2 weeks culminating in a Beach Carnival usually held on the 2nd Saturday of January.


      • Ocean Grove, one of the growing coastal towns, has a very popular surf beach along with the big Supermarkets, banks and plenty of shopping available. Check out Tranquillity Fair held on first Saturday in the New Year in Ocean Grove Park.


      • RAAF’s Beach , on the left between Ocean Grove and Barwon Heads, offers wide open spaces at low tides whilst on the other side of the road the Barwon River Beach is popular with younger beach goers and when the tides out is a great play ground with the backdrop of the famous Barwon Heads Bridge (if you watched the Australian TV series Sea Change that is).


      • Some of the best surfing on this coast can be found at any number of different spots along 13th Beach on the road from Barwon Heads to Torquay (across the bridge and left at the pub).

    For a water break of a different kind don’t miss the Adventure Water Park ( located on the Geelong road 5 minutes out of Wallington – this is fun for everyone – doors open at 10.00am and it pays to get there early, to grab a table, a spot in the shade and jump on the rides whilst the queues are short.
    queenscliff-steam-railway Queenscliff Steam Train on the Narrows

    Probably one of the better known Bellarine towns, Queenscliff is 5 minutes away. This Edwardian Holiday town with its wide roads and splendid hotels, boasts a great collection of Steam trains that run during weekends and holiday periods along to Drysdale or for those just looking for a quick experience to Laker’s Siding (30 mins). The Blues Train is also a great night out with Dinner and music for up to 200 passengers.

    For such a small town Queenscliff offers more than its fair share of museums with the Fort Queenscliff Tour and Museum, (03 5258 1488), Queenscliff Historical Museum (03 5258 2511), excellent Queenscliff Maritime Museum (03 5258 3440) and located between Queenscliff and Point Lonsdale on the “Narrows” is the Marine Discovery Centre – small but fun for the kids and the staff are great (03 5258 3344).

    Queenscliff is also home for the Pilots who guide ships in and out of the Bay in particular through the notoriously difficult 3km wide “Rip”. Watch for these Orange Pilot boats powering out to pick up and drop off Pilots onto the Ships. You can view the boats tied up in the Queenscliff marina.

    queenscliff-pierStretch your legs or pick up freshly cooked Fish and Chips and take a wander down the Jetty or around the new Marina where you may catch sight of the 3 giant Sting Rays that live there!

    So, where to stay?

    Late December – January is peak season with holiday-makers flocking in, filling up Holiday Parks sites and holiday rentals – renting a house during this period is not cheap, expect to fork out $1300+ per week for a 3 bedroom and you need to book ahead for both House and Holiday Park bookings.

    In Point Lonsdale itself there are 3 large Holiday Parks, Golightly, Royal Park Caravan Park and Big 4 Beacon Resort. Best bet is the latter which rather confusingly describes itself as being in Queenscliff when Point Lonsdale would be more apt. A sign of the increasing popularity of Holiday Parks is the new Big 4 Park on the Bellarine Highway ( 5 kms west of Point Lonsdale which opened its doors in late 2009. This offers Cabins, powered and unpowered sites, so those in Motorhome rentals or simply camping out are well catered for.

    There are several B & Bs including Roseneath Villa B&B (, Point Lonsdale Cottages and Point Lonsdale Guest House ( a long stone’s throw from the lighthouse itself.

    Best time of year? Hard one to answer, Summer and Easter are always popular and plenty of fun, however in many ways the winter and other months are more attractive with a peaceful local feel. Depends slightly on your needs – for those with kids then December – January and any warm weekend will work well, if you’ve got under school aged children then February is for you – lower rates and far less busy.

    Heading home you have the option of the Queenscliff – Sorrento Ferry with the chance of seeing dolphins. Taking the Car is $60 and be warned the popularity of the Sorrento area on the other side means the drive back to Melbourne will take longer during the summer months. Alternatively head back up to Geelong or cut across and take the Portarlington road as an alternative, fewer traffic lights and better views.

    DriveNow Partner and sometime Blog Contributor

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Using Australian Toll Roads when Hiring a Car


It’s a sign of the times when just about every major city in Australian today has road tolls in one shape or other, generally on the most useful roads & freeways.  If you’re an inter-state or overseas traveller with a hired car then paying for these tolls needs to be done within a certain time frame of travelling to avoid penalties, not only imposed by the Toll Service but also rental car provider.

A Quick Guide to Australian Road Tolls:


Sydney operates one of the most extensive networks of Toll Roads and Bridges in Australia. All use electronic e-tags and only 4 – the Eastern Distributor, M4, M5 and M2 – offer cash booths. Travelling without a Toll Pass incurs fees from the Toll Operator and in the case of a hired car from the Car Rental Company as well, so it pays to plan ahead.

Service Toll Charged Toll Type
Cross City Tunnel – Main tunnel Both directions Fixed fee
Cross City Tunnel – Sir John Young Cres North bound Fixed fee
Eastern Distributor North bound Fixed fee
Lane Cove Tunnel Both directions Fixed fee
M2 – North Ryde Both directions Fixed fee
M2 – Pennant Hills Road Both directions Fixed fee
M4 Both directions Fixed fee
M5 Both directions Fixed fee
M7 Both directions Distance travelled
Military Road E-Ramps Both directions Fixed fee
Sydney Harbour Bridge South bound Time of Day
Sydney Harbour Tunnel South bound Time of Day

As a visitor to Sydney or infrequent user of the toll roads you can register with the New South Wales Road Traffic Authority for an E-Toll pass to pay any toll fees across the state. These are valid for between 1-14 days. For durations longer than 14 days a second pass will need to be obtained.

You can register for a pass online at the NSW RTA website (, via phone on 13 18 65 or at any RTA Registry. Registration can either occur before or up to 48 hours after your trip.

When registering a hired car for an E-Toll pass ensure you advise the RTA of the rental company name and the expected start and end dates & times of your Toll trips. This is to eliminate any chance of you being charged by another renter using the vehicle on the same day.

Sydney Toll Roads and Rental CarsTo qualify for the E-Toll pass you need to travel in the designated ‘e’ pass lane when passing through the Toll Booths.  Your number plate will be photographed and matched to your pass registration.

If you do not travel through the designated lane or travel without a Pass a Toll Notice will be issued to the registered owner of the vehicle. This notice is the full Toll and includes an additional $10 administration charge. If the vehicle has been hired the Car Rental company will likely charge you its own administration fee ($50 is not unheard of) in addition to the RTA costs.


In Melbourne CityLink operate Toll Services from the Tullamarine Freeway, across the Bolte Bridge, through the Burnley and Domain Tunnels that link the South-Eastern suburbs with the West Gate Bridge and Tullamarine Freeway, and a short stretch of road into Exhibition Street on the Southern side of the CBD.

So, if you have picked up a rental car at Melbourne airport and are heading into the city or southern suburbs the likelihood of using CityLink is high. There are a number of different payment options for casual users which can be pre-purchased over the phone including a 24 hour, Weekend or ‘Tulla’ Pass.

  • The 24 Hour Pass commences when you first use Citylink on your nominated day.
  • The Weekend Pass covers you from midnight Friday to midnight Sunday.
  • The Tulla Pass covers travel between Flemington and Bulla Road in either direction

You can also purchase these passes on the CityLink website ( , via phone on 13 26 29, at the Post Office or selected newsagencies up to 3 days after you travelled.

Failure to pay within the specified time incurs a Late Toll Fee that is charged to the owner of the vehicle and in the case of a rental company you may incur additional administration fees from them.


In Brisbane, Toll Services are concentrated south of the city and to the east running north of the airport and south across the Gateway Bridge to feed into the Pacific Highway and Gateway Extension Motorway.

Toll Services operate on the following and all operate under a fixed fee system:

  • Gateway Bridge
  • Gateway Motorway
  • Gateway Extension Motorway
  • Logan Motorway

Future plans include the Northern Link extending the Western Freeway into Brisbane inner city Bypass (2014) and the new M7 Motorway (2012) with the CLEM7 section including the 5km city tunnel to be opened in 2010. Another project due for completion next year is the Go Between Bridge linking Southern Brisbane with Milton.

Tolls for the CLEM7 and the Go Between Bridge connection will be published closer to the opening of the service in 2010.

On the Logan and Gateway Motorways tolls can be paid using the viavideo pass system ( Passes can be purchased by credit card or cash.

Credit Card – once pre-registered your credit card will be debited with tolls incurred during your nominated travel period (1 to 30 days).  Alternatively you can pay up to 3 days after your trip.

Purchase via:

Cash – a choice of viavideo passes allow you to pay for single, return or multi-travel journeys. Multi-travel passes come in pre-set denominations of $3, $5, $10, $15, $20, $25, $30 and $50.  Unused credit on cash passes will expire if not used within 30 days and no refunds or transfers are available.

Purchase via:

  • Participating go Via Retailers
  • Customer Service Centres

Finally, if you are travelling in your own vehicle and have a e-tag from your home city it is likely that this will be accepted by Toll Operators in other Australian cities and therefore there is no need to purchase a pass. Visit the Operators’ websites to confirm this before travelling.

DriveNow Partner and sometime Blog Contributor


Driving and Mobile Phones – New Victorian State Regulations


As with most countries, the holding and use of a mobile phone whilst driving has been banned in Australia for a number of years, with 3 License demit points and a fine for those caught doing so.

However, it is still an every day occurrence and common sight on Australian roads today.  VicRoads, the Victorian Road Authority, reports that you are 4 times likely to be involved in an accident when using a mobile phone and a staggering 23 times more likely if texting.

The Victorian Government has decided to get tough on this issue and has introduced Australia’s most stringent regulations governing the use of Mobile phones, GPS units, Televisions etc whilst driving.  These new regulations came into effect on 9th November 2009 in Victoria and include the following:

  • You cannot use your mobile phone unless it is secured in a commercially designed Car Kit or it can be operated without actually touching it (i.e. you have a Blue Tooth hands free kit)
  • You can use earpieces connected to the phone via a cord as long as you do not press any buttons on the phone or touch the phone
  • You can only use your phone in a Car Kit to make and receive calls or play music
  • You cannot use your mobile phone for any other function such as texting, video calls or email
  • Learners and P1 Drivers cannot use a mobile phone in any way whilst driving
  • Holding or sitting your mobile on your knee or lap is prohibited. (simply put if you’re driving don’t touch your mobile phone at all)
  • A GPS unit can only be used if it is an integrated part of the vehicle design or secured in a commercially designed car kit.
  • Any Television or other Visual Display Unit cannot be operated if it visible to the Driver or is likely to distract another driver.

A good point to note that being stuck in a traffic jam or at traffic lights constitutes as driving therefore all the above continues to apply.

One of the times when you are more likely to step outside regulations such as these is where you are out of your normal driving environment, for example when hiring a car. Fortunately Car Manufactures and Car rental companies are coming to the rescue on this front.

Once the domain of luxury foreign imports, over the last couple of years more manufacturers are including embedded Blue Tooth functionality into a wider range of vehicles. As rental companies update their fleets, these Blue Tooth equipped cars are becoming more readily available for hire. It’s simply a case of pairing your phone with your vehicle when you pick it up.

DriveNow Partner and sometime blog contributor


Keeping Kids safe in Cars – New Regulations in Australia


Australia’s states and territories have finally got their act together and established a National set of rules to govern children and how we secure them in cars.

The introduction of these new rules does vary. In Victoria they come into effect from November 9th 2009, Tasmania introduces them in December 2009 whilst the other states and territories will follow in 2010.

In a nutshell the following will apply:

  • Under 6 months – Children must be seated in an approved and properly fitted rear facing child capsule
  • 6 Months to 4 Years – Children must wear an approved and properly fitted rear or forward facing restraint with in-built harness
  • 4 – 7 Years – Children must wear an approved and properly fitted forward facing child restraint with in-built harness or an approved booster seat, correctly fitted and fastened

Whilst these rules are to be welcomed they do not take into account that all children are not alike and nor do they grow alike. In 2007 the UK introduced regulations that stipulated child restraints based on height, all the way up to 12 years. A surprisingly innovative and refreshing approach for a Government given how obvious and practical this approach is.

Working off height ensures that an adult seat belt is better used by shorter children in the 7-12 year bracket through the use of booster seats. There might be some disgruntled short 12 year olds (I would have definitely fallen into this category) but at the end of the day if the unthinkable happens and you are in an accident at least you are maximising your family’s protection.

As far as the Front Passenger Seat is concerned the safest approach is simply not to use it for any child under the age of 12. A great rule of thumb is if they are not teenagers yet then keep them behind you.

The Car rental companies that DriveNow partners with in Australia all carry a stock of booster and child seats.  These can be hired and are normally charged out on a per day basis. When booking with DriveNow you can order your child seat(s) at the same time.  It’s highly recommended to do this when making your booking rather than leaving it until the last minute. Stock will be limited and run out fast particularly at busy times such as Christmas, Easter and School Holidays.

DriveNow Partner and sometime blog contributor

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Can I really get a One way Campervan Rental from a $1 a day?


YES you didn’t misread the title, and NO it’s not another one of those sales gimmicks. Truly it is possible to rent a Campervan for as little as a $1 a day or even essentially for nothing from some of Australia’s leading providers.

So, perhaps a bit of background to explain what’s this all about and how it comes about.

With Campervans and other vehicles being hired and dropped off at different locations around the country, the rental companies are often left in the position of having plenty of vehicles but sitting in the wrong locations. These need to be moved across to branches where customers are expected.

In particular this becomes more necessary as the Australian Seasons change.  Popular Touring times in Northern Australia – Darwin, Broome and Cairns are during the Dry season running from May until late October. For Southern parts of Australia the most popular touring period is generally November through until mid-to-late autumn in April and May.

At the end of each touring season rental companies tend to have too many vehicles in the wrong part of the country and hence the need to relocate them.  During these season changes tends to be the time when the greatest numbers of relocation deals are available.

Vehicle Relocations cost time, effort and money if undertaken by the rental companies themselves.  They quickly realised that a much better campervan-great-ocean-roadoption was to provide one-way campervan deals at substantially discounted prices (down to as little as a $1 a day) and have the travelling public relocate the vehicles for them. Often free fuel is included with offers of up to $350 of fuel not uncommon.

This is a complete win-win outcome. The vehicles are relocated at minimal cost to the rental company and travellers get amazing deals.  Think about this, a top of the range Deluxe Motorhome can cost in excess of $300 a day to rent, so to pick it up for $1 or $5 has got to be a bargain in anyone’s eyes. Generally you are given 6 or 7 days to travel between the locations however different suppliers have different conditions and the travel time allowed does vary on the distance between branches.

How does it work?

  • Some suppliers allow you to go on the register of Drivers and they will then contact you when a vehicle is available. Or if you have a flexible agenda you can see what deals are available within the next 4 weeks
  • Several websites including list all the Relocation Deals available in the next few weeks.  Unlike some, DriveNow does not charge a booking fee. The full benefit of the relocation is passed on to the customer.
  • On picking up your Campervan you must drop it off at the specified destination by the specified date during business hours of the destination branch. Failure to do so does incur hefty daily penalties.
  • Some suppliers also have limits on free kilometres of travel between cities. These generally allow for scope to enjoy the journey but once exceeded a per km fee is charged.
  • Your trip will be subject to the standard insurance options of a regular campervan rental. That is, unless you take an insurance excess reduction option, a bond of AU$7500 will be lodged on your credit card at pick up and returned when you drop off the vehicle subject to any damage.

So, with all this good news what are the drawbacks for travellers? Well four spring to mind:

  • Your choice of campervan will be limited to those that are up for relocation
  • Only certain Pick up and Drop off locations will be available and you must drop off the Campervan by the specified date or incur additional full daily charges
  • Some providers have a cap on the number of kilometres you can travel for free between locations before a per km fee is incurred. The free allowance is enough to get you to the drop off point with a wee bit of room for wandering.
  • Deals are available on an ad hoc basis, there’s no booking months in advance

The bottom line is that if you can travel at short notice and then work to a timetable between locations then these Relocation deals will save you an absolute fortune on Campervan Rental. To have free fuel thrown in is the icing on the cake.

For further information on current one way rental deals in Australia check out DriveNow’s One Way Campervan Rental Deal information pages.

DriveNow Partner and sometime Blog Contributor


Surfers Paradise and 2 Theme Parks in 2 Days

By Australia / Gold Coast / Queensland /

So, having relaxed on the beaches of Far North Queensland we headed for a slightly different pace of life, south to Surfers Paradise and the Theme Parks.

Flying into Brisbane we picked up another Avis Car rental at Brisbane Airport. We’d make the booking with DriveNow back in August and one point that really came through was how much cheaper it was to book in advance. That may sound like a sales pitch however the reality was that it saved us $60 on a 3 day rental. It does pay to book in advance particularly in peak periods such as Christmas, Easter and School Holidays.

Perhaps we were lucky with our timing but we had bags and hire car collected and were on the road within 35 minutes of landing.

We drove south to Surfers through the road-works on the Gateway Motorway (why in Australia do we refer to some roads as Motorways and others as Freeways? Aren’t they the same thing?) and on down the Pacific Motorway past the soon to be visited Theme Parks.

Surfers Paradise seems to take people one of 2 ways; either it’s a blot on the landscape, a gaudy, mishmash of towers blocking out the afternoon beach sun, or it’s endless beautiful beach and surf with hotels, restaurants and all the city mod-cons we love together in one of the best Australian climates. Either way it’s unqiue and we reckon take it as it comes and enjoy, after all as one of Australia’s fastest growing regions it has to be one of the most popular destinations around.

We arrived during the AFL Grand Final so the streets were quieter than usual and with the up coming Gold Coast Indy 500 race due in October this was a God-send as there were saftely barriers, temporary stands and other road changes to navigate around and challenge the newcomer.

crown-towers-surfers-paradiseWe’d booked a 3 bedroom apartment at Crown Towers on the recommendation of a friend. This towering Resort certainly had everything within its 39 floors.

Downstairs there were 2 pools, the outside beach-like pool was surprisingly cold at 16 degrees and despite the warm weather didn’t appear to get any warmer during our stay. Fortunately we had the sea and the indoor heated Pool and Sauna at 26 degrees were a popular fall-back.

Other facilities included, bar, restaurant,  popular Thai Restaurant, internet access (note if you wish to do a Qantas online check-in the security settings don’t let you print your boarding passes as we found out! Fortunately we discovered an internet café down the road that we were able to use), Tour booking desk and free underground parking. Include the central location, complete security and this was an ideal spot for families to set up base in. You get to choose either to remain within the resort which had everything on tap, or venture out to the beach or Surfers itself.

For those looking for immediate thrills and spills the Resort sits beside Adrenaline Park, a mini theme park in the middle of Surfers. This had the aptly named Vomatron (giant propeller) which I was reliablly informed revolved at 120kph (not for me thank you), Sling Shot which propels you 72m skyward at 160kph (ditto) and bungy jumping into or touching water (your choice). Fortunately there is mini Golf, dodgem cars and bungy trampolines to keep sane people entertained.

We only had 2 full days for the Theme Parks and the kids had settled on Wet ‘N’ Wild and Warner Bros Movieworld. We’d booked in advance on the website and grabbed a 10% discount on our Escape passes (2 parks in 3 days) – a hidden bonus in doing this was that we skipped the ticket queues at both parks.

Both parks were a hit with the kids, although the parents were a little hesitant (in one case VERY hesitant) in jumping on the rides.

As plenty has been written about the Parks I’ll keep my observations to the following tips:

  1.  Pre book your tickets on (you need to sign up but that’s a 20 second job). You get the 10% discount and avoid queuing at the parks.
  2. Get there early! Aim to arrive around 9.15am – doors open at 9.30 or so and rides commence around 10. You’re looking at 50+ minute queues for popular rides later in the day, arriving early ensures you can experience your favourite thrills more quickly. Alternatively visit the park outside School Holidays.
  3. Wet ‘N’ Wild have a no Commercial Food allowed through the gate Policy – but home made sandwiches and bringing your own drinks was fine. This seems a sensible approach – we took our own and also purchased onsite from some of the many outlets as well. An obvious thing to note – Glass and alcohol are both no-no’s.
  4. Movieworld take the Food Policy to a bit of an extreme and allow no food or drink onto their premises at all with the exception of Special Dietary requirements. They have security guards at the entrance to check bags. A bit of a draconian measure I assume to encourage you to purchase at onsite food and beverage outlets.
  5. Your Kids will have a complete 100% ball of a time! And guess what? So will you. The Parks have everything set up to a tee and it genuinely was Family fun at its best. To be honest – so what if you have to queue – so does everyone else, relax and enjoy, it’s all part and parcel of being at Australia’s most popular Theme Parks.

surfers-paradise-beach-walkSurfers definitely has something to offer for everyone and is conveniently within 2.5 hours flying of Australia’s large cities as well as being a popular destination for overseas visitors. With events such as the Indy 500, the forthcoming Aussie Rules Football team franchise to be launched in 2011, a potential bid for the Commonwealth Games, Australian University Games, The Theme Parks, Iron Man and other Surf Competitions, there really is always something to do and see on this vibrant coast.

Next year I am reliably informed we are back for Dreamworld and something called the Drop – which I’ve been assured will be heaps of fun. Having seen it from the freeway I’m not convinced, perhaps it’s Mum’s turn to try that one! Sea World will also be on the agenda and sounds tamest of all – gotta love those Dolphins, Polar Bears and Sharks!


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Port Douglas – 1 Car Hire, 2 Bags, 2 Kids, 2 Parents and a Blissful Break

By Australia / Port Douglas / Queensland /

Weathermen were redundant for our week in Port Douglas. I mean, how difficult can it be to forecast blue skies and 30 degrees? Sheer and utter bliss. For that’s the only way to describe our week in September up North.

Departing a grey overcast Melbourne and with the obligatory (and brief) Sydney stop-over we arrived into Cairns to find the airport in a somewhat chaotic state with extensive renovations underway. To be fair looking at the impressive Qantas check-in area the chaos will be worth enduring.

We’d booked ahead through DriveNow (no surprise there!) and organised an Avis Corolla car rental at Cairns Airport which was perfect for 2 large bags, 2 excited children and 2 parents hoping to spend at least a little time relaxing in peace on the beach, book in hand. Glad to report that no one was disappointed.

Heading up the Captain Cook Highway we did ponder about taking the Karunda Skyrail – this unique Rainforest 7.5km Cableway takes you up from Caravonica over the McAlister Ranges to Karunda and is well worth a visit – however for us the kids had but one appointment in mind and that was poolside 80 minutes north!

Once past Palm Cove the road clings to the coast for 25kms as it winds up the Coral Sea. The scenery is simply stunning, palm-fringed beaches with the Cassowary Ranges as the perfect backdrop.

port-douglas-rendezvous-reef-resortWe had booked a 2 bedroom villa at the Rendezvous Reef Resort around 4 kms from the centre of Port Douglas.

It came with DVD player, Digital TV, Sound system with iPod port, in fact everything to keep the kids happy during any down time. Air-Conditioning in the living and bedrooms ensured a comfortable escape from the heat. Most importantly the kids had 3 pools to choose from!

The kitchen had all the essentials including dishwasher but one thing to note the cooker consisted of a 4 ringed hob and microwave but no grill or oven (I guess the thinking is who wants to use an oven on holiday and in such a warm climate). Perhaps other villas were configured differently.

For those without transport there’s a minibus shuttle into town every 15 minutes for around $4 a pop. For young families this had everything and was a great place to stay. If you have older teenagers who are looking to party then the resorts are probably not going to meet every expectation.

Other resort highlights included the reasonably priced, good quality restaurant with kids eating for free, BBQ facilities, complimentary Tennis and Pitch ‘n’ Putt. Staff were great, mostly UK, Irish and Canadian backpackers working their way round the best of Australia.

As for the beach. Well, nip across the road, take a 10 minute stroll through some of the world’s oldest tropical rainforest and emerge onto 4 mile beach. Endless sand and sea water that is actually warmer than the pools. I suppose if I was to describe a disappointment it would be that the waves churned the sand so the shallows were’nt crystal clear, but hey that’s being pretty picky, this is not a place to miss.

port-douglas-4-mile-beach-stinger-signAlthough September is towards the end of the dry season there was no need to worry about stingers despite the rather novel (for southern and overseas visitors) beach warning signs. Swimming in the sea in Far Northern Australia between November and May is a real no-no – box and the more recently discovered Irukandji Jellyfish (no bigger than your thumbnail) can cause lethal stings. And whilst we’re on dangerous animals, avoid swimming in estuaries where salt water crocodiles may be present. Don’t be put off by these animals, after all it’s their habitat that we have encroached on, the simple rule is ask and follow the advice of local authorities as to where and when it’s safe to swim.

Once we had stocked up at Coles we quickly settled into a routine – the kids spent the entire day(s) in the water up to their necks, mornings were dedicated to pool water, afternoons to sea and then it was back to the pool again for a last late afternoon dip. With 6 and 9 year old water-babies this holiday was never going to be pre-occupied by excursions – water activity around the resort & beach was the popular theme allowing everyone to relax, unwind and enjoy.

This routine quickly became the norm with a couple of minor exceptions – an excursion to the Rainforest Habitat Centre (all of 3kms up the Port Douglas Road back towards Captain Cook Highway) . This was fun – plenty of wildlife much of which you could reach out and touch and all set in a great environment.

Sunday is obligatory Market Day at the point off Wharf Street. Whilst much of the wares were of the ilk found at markets elsewhere, it’s not often you can buy a freshly picked (or should that be ‘dropped’) coconut and then watch the husks being chopped off, drink freshly squeezed cane juice (try it with lemon – heaven) or catch a glass of freshly cracked Pineapple juice. A Frenchman selling the most amazing bird whistles and 15 minute Portrait drawings by a Melbourne migrant were other stand-outs. However we quickly returned to the water!

port-douglas-rendezvous-pool Port Douglas caters for the widest range of budgets. Accommodation includes the luxury Coconut Grove, Peppers Bale, Sea Temple and Mirage Restorts through to Backpacker hotels. There’s plenty of mid-range accommodation as well. Eating out is equally diverse with pub grub, Italian and European Restaurants and we found several places offering early diners ‘kids eat free’ deals which proved to be hugely popular. On a practical level there’s 2 large supermarkets, Chemists, banks, Book stores, Internet Cafes, Post Office – in fact I’ll not go on here – you have everything you need – so don’t worry about packing the kitchen sink!

If you’re looking to hire a car in Port Douglas (use the Show All Locations option), Thrifty, Avis and Budget all have offices up here, Thrifty on Macrossan Street and the other 2 just around the corner in Warner St at the Wharf Street end. For those taking the Cairns Campervan rental option, Panadanus Holiday Park on Port Douglas Road in Port Douglas is 2 kms from the town centre and has pool, kitchen and powered site facilities. A quick scroll (10 mins max) across the road and through the rain-forest will see you emerge onto 4 mile beach.

It was our first visit that far north and we found everything needed for a great family break away from a rather wet and cold Melbourne. Certainly included in our plans for 2010 for a revisit during the winter months.