Wicked Camper Vans have played a huge part in forming people’s perceptions and realities of road tripping around the world. With their beat up campers spray painted with slogans of dreams, peace and rock and roll and an ethos that aims to offer the cheapest as well as the best road trip experiences, it’s hard to see why any body looking for a road trip with a difference would go anywhere else.
This was my theory, anyway. With a restricted budget and an insatiable desire to bum around Australia with absolute control over where I visited, what I saw and even where I slept, Wicked seemed like the easiest option.
To some extent, it was the best option. Getting picked up from Melbourne airport in a van that made more noise than any vehicle should ever make and caused more heads to turn than a bout of public nudity (the van was spray painted with Kim Possible on the side, and a crude gynecologist related joke scrawled on the back...), I couldn’t have been happier. This was going to be a memorable trip. A quick stock up on Hungry Jack’s, beer, and no frills coffee, and we were off.
Hitting the Great Ocean Road to begin, the first 6 days were incredible. Views that blew all of our minds, miles covered, a lot of bad car-singing and a few freezing nights at the top of several cliffs… it couldn’t have been going better. Then things took a drastic turn for the worse. The van started filling with fumes from the engine to the point where we couldn’t drive any more without the risk of hospitalisation. Actual hospitalisation. Not the best way to wind down a 4 month RTW trip…
So we took it back to Melbourne and got the van exchanged for another. To be fair, Wicked were pretty good about this. Despite an unplanned overnight stop in Melbourne and a bit of a screw up on our plans, it was okay. We picked our new van up the next day. And started our adventure all over again. After 8 hours of driving pretty much non-stop, we arrived in the tiny town of Bega. Bega has nothing to offer. Nothing. Apart from a cheese factory. And this is where our new van decided to break down.
Stranded half way out of town, we were towed back, had to pay for an extremely dodgy hotel, and were forced to just sit it out. To cut a long story relatively short, we missed an event we were supposed to be attending, had to pay for two nights of accommodation wasted three days of our stay in Australia in Bega, had to waste money on more food AND had to buy a $240 bus ticket en route to Sydney after no replacement for our vehicle could be arranged.
After all this, you would expect Wicked to be fairly apologetic, right? Refunds of bus tickets, food, accommodation, 6 days worth of van hire, 6 days worth of wasted insurance at $25 a day and a $200 one way fee from Melbourne to Sydney all to be arranged as soon as possible, yeah? Well, apparently not. Around a year since our Wicked disaster, and we’ve received a total refund of $480. After being owed over $1000, this service is awful – to put it lightly.
I’d kind of heard of a few of these rumours about Wicked being a waste of money before we hired the van. But this has really proved it. Even though they look pretty awesome, the whole ‘fun for all on the cheap?!?!’ ethos of Wicked is farcical – don’t be bowled over by the pretty pictures on the sides and the $15 a day difference between different companies. I’ll avoid the ‘Wicked are wicked’ cheese line… but. There it is. Avoid, avoid, avoid.