I’ve always wanted to embark on a kombi adventure. There’s something about the groovy vintage VW minibus that evokes the free spirit inside me to be spontaneous and go wherever its wheels and my heart can take me. I review Sydney’s one and only (literally) kombi available for hire on a camping weekender from Kombis2Go.
A rare chance of a free weekend for both L and I arrived and we decided to head to NSW’s Jervis Bay, a favourite travel destination of locals and foreigners alike, renowned for squeaky, white sand, turquoise lagoons and secret coves.
Unsatisfied with last-minute accommodation options around the oceanic bay ($300/pn for a very basic shack or a big family beach house, hmmm), I thought why don’t we try something different?! Let’s travel – kombi style!
We were surprised to find the only company in Sydney, Kombis2Go, offering a kombi to hire for a short getaway. Others were used for weddings and photoshoots.
Recently launched in mid-2015, the small business has just one lovingly restored vintage 1974 Volkswagen minibus on the road despite its name.
With little online presence and virtually no reviews (compared to other similar companies in Byron Bay and Melbourne), I tried my luck via an email and received a quick response from a lovely Bernard offering his piece of treasure – and sometimes his own home too – that seats/sleeps two people for a humble price. Of course I’d be all over it.
And? Well, let’s just say I can’t think of a better way to beach-hop and explore my way around the south coast!
Embrace nomadic hippydom and join the Kombi club.
Imagine sleeping anywhere, anytime, waking up to a gorgeous sunrise and toasting to a sunset by the beach, cooking out in nature, sleeping under the stars, and experiencing a home on the move with a loved one.
I mean, this is standard with all ordinary campervans but driving a kombi is special. They’re known as a symbol of nomadic hippydom.
Passing drivers may smile at you or give you the thumbs-up. Some will circle the retro bus out of admiration in parking lots, asking you questions about where it came from.
I didn’t have to know much about the history of kombis to conjure my inner bohemian, I’ve been fed with the symbolism growing up along Australia’s coastlines. However, now I do know I’ve hired a second generation T2 of the 70s – a face-lifted VW with a front tyre and full front window as opposed to its predecessor with a ‘V’ shape two-tone front and split windows.
A navy kombi of our same model passed us on the freeway and the driver threw his arms up and vigorously waved with a huge grin. We couldn’t help but feel part of the club, a generational movement of freedom and expression that trickled down and still exists for today’s individualists.
Meet Eloise, a lovingly restored 1974 vintage VW.
Eloise makes funny noises. From her whirs, you can tell she’s been all around Australia and works really hard for you the more you accelerate. You just gotta show her a little tenderness when you hit 100km/hr.
L and I looked at each other and laughed at her utter adorability in crawling up the steep scenic hills of Grand Pacific Drive as drivers overtook us. “I think I can! I think I can!…” I said.
There’s no air-conditioning, Eloise can only cool you down with winded down windows (some call this energy efficiency) with a battery-powered fan attached to her dashboard. Decorated with a yellow smiley face button, it swung between driver and passenger, the face reminding us ‘hey man, life’s all groovy’, the buzzing noise taking me back to a hot summer’s day in a seaside motel room.
See, this is all part of Eloise’s charm.
Barefoot, we felt the fake grass (the car mat) between our toes, drove aimlessly in our swimmers with an icy cold drink in one hand thanks to a well-working fridge conveniently positioned between us – something I later learned is a total
bonus necessity for a killer road trip – and caught balmy breezes through our salty hair as we journeyed around, stopping wherever we pleased.
L being over 180cm tall, stood up and moved around comfortably when we pushed the roof upwards with ease. We converted the indoor lounge seat to set up a comfortable mattress bed accompanied with soft pillows and fresh sheets, a good night’s rest in a clean, cosy space that we’ve yearned for weeks.
We were also surprised to find high-quality outdoor camping chairs, cooking utensils, running water and little bonuses that make a whole load of difference (like salt and pepper mills) when dining in nature.
Even though there’s no power steering, Eloise was swift to start and surprisingly easy to drive and park with automatic transmission and a massive turning circle. As with driving all buses, you tackle the roads through a wide view window, as if the world really is your oyster.
Did I mention she’s fitted with solar panels to help charge the internal lighting and fridge?
I don’t think Eloise knows how subconsciously happy she made me.
Perhaps her facade of a Felix The Cat laughing until its belly hurts reminded me to not take life too seriously, to shrug off whatever problems I may have had. Or maybe it’s her slick olive green skin against nature’s backdrop, a co-existence that perhaps aligned me with it too. It’s how she waited for me in the corner of parking lots after I’m done exploring one beach, standing out like a loyal puppy, ready to journey onto the next. I couldn’t help but say, “Awww, Eloise!”.
She’s something our parents once owned, or perhaps something we adventured in ourselves when we were young. Remember those days? When life was more simple and we cared about all the more important things?
The verdict on Kombis2Go.
Jervis Bay is a perfect example of where best to have a kombi weekender. Dotted with an abundance of nature activities along easy-to-drive roads, it was nice to drive Eloise from one destination to another and not having to return to a base point (i.e. accommodation site). It saves hours!
I’d like to give her some time and space to breathe and keep up to shape so I wouldn’t hire her for weeks on end. But if I’m wanting a fun, short getaway to bring out the best boho in me (and snap lots of fabulous, retro-vibe moments), I wouldn’t hesitate to take her out for another spin.
Thanks Eloise, for housing me within all of nature’s glory and reminding me the simple but adventurous life is the good life.
Exclusive offer for Tales of Ardour readers!*
Kombis2Go and Tales of Ardour have teamed up to gift you with 10% off your entire kombi adventure!
If you’re planning a weekender (2 nights), that’s saving you over $30 – that’s half a petrol tank that can take you far. A whole week of fun escapades? That’s saving you over $100 – more money for antipasto and wine, hooray!
During the booking process, mention this blog post to receive your offer. Terms and conditions apply (see below).
Make sure to tag me in your photos @talesofardour so I can see what you’re up to!
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*TERMS AND CONDITIONS
Must book in advance, booking period excludes official Australian long weekends. Offer is valid for hire up until 31st December 2016. Not in conjunction with other offers.
Daily rate (24hrs) is $145 (long weekends $165, min 3 night hire). This rate is inclusive of $3000 excess (minimum age 21) which can be reduced to $1100 for an extra $15 per day (for ages 25 and over). This rate includes the first 800kms, and 25 cents/km over.
Bedding, outdoor camping chairs and table, cutlery/crockery, a small fridge/freezer, gas cooking facilities and a bluetooth stereo are included in the hire price.
HOW TO BOOK + PICK UP
Send an email to Bernard at email@example.com with your request.
Once confirmed, Eloise can be picked up from Artamon (15 mins drive from Sydney CBD). There is free parking within the residential area to leave your car while you’re away, or you can catch a train to Artamon Station then walk 3 minutes to meet her.
top 3 TRAVEL TIPS
- Bring extra sleeping bags if the weather forecast looks of chilly evenings.
- Be mindful when driving in the dark. Eloise’s lights are dim.
- Before you go, check out nearby available camping/powered sites for somewhere to spend the night if you need electricity using the fitted adaptor or would like proper shower facilities.
Contact Bernard at Kombis2Go: firstname.lastname@example.org.