This page may contain affiliates. However, I will never recommend resources which I do not find helpful or useful to myself. For more information on what this means please see my Disclaimers and Policies page.
Moving to a new country requires a period of adjustment. One hurtle to overcome is where to find everything that you need. At home, I know which store I would go to if I was looking for a chainsaw but, in another country, that store may not exist. Below is a list of places that you could start looking for some of those things that you are missing.
Where to Find Everything You Need for a Van:
Congratulations, you have bought a van! If you are lucky your van came with all of the essentials necessary to begin adventuring around Australia. If not, or if you are missing a few things, here are some places to start hunting.
- Salvation Army (Salvos) and Society of St. Vincent de Paul (Vinnies): These are two widely spread thrift stores. The selection is donation dependent but there are plenty of home goods, clothing, and furniture if you wish to alter your vehicle a bit. Salvos seem to be more frequently spotted. We picked up quite a few miscellaneous things here such as a pan lid, a new dresser for our van, and plastic wine glasses.
- Opportunity Shops (Op-Shops): All around Australia you will find Op-Shops for a variety of different agencies. Essentially, these are second-hand stores that raise funds for their related cause. We have seen a variety of shops including funds for cancer, high schools, and various churches. If you are not comfortable with your donation going towards a certain agency, then head to the next shop. Most towns in Australia seem to have at least one if not two. We have used op-shops to locate home goods that we did not need urgently. Plus, I have always been a fan of second hand clothes shopping.
- Gumtree: This is an online buy-and-sell, where people sell items they no longer want. This is where we found our van.
Generally, you will find the cheapest prices at the thrift stores so these are a good place to start. If you have patience and search often, you will likely find everything that you need. If you do not have the time to hunt, then the next set of places should help you.
Buying New Items:
- Bunnings: Bunnings is basically the Australian equivalent to Home Depot or a Canadian Tire. You can find tools, batteries, sturdy tables, and more. Here we found a camping table, camping chairs, an assortment of lights, a hammock, and my favourite, our fairy lights.
- Bonus Tip: Trying going on a weekend and catching a sausage sizzle! These $2.50 sausages are worth every penny.
- Kmart: Kmart is a simpler version of Wal-Mart. Check here for kitchenware, bedding, board games, and about 1000 things you did not know that you needed until now. They sell snack food but not groceries and you get what you pay for with quality. But, they are a great way of getting what you need in a jiffy. We picked up puzzles, board games, books, basic supplies such as a first aid kit, bungee cords, zip ties, cleaning cloths, and all the basic car stuff we needed.
- Target: You may remember these from their brief stint in Canada. They are similar to Kmart but we have always found the selection to be less useful. Maybe you will have better luck though. We picked up our sheets and a few board games here.
- Repco: A car parts and accessory chain. The staff at every Repco we have been to have been super helpful (We have been to quite a few). They sell oil, wiper blades, and the like. In addition, in the likely event that your vehicle will need repairs at some point try going to a Repco certified repair shop. The parts will be warrantied nation-wide. What this means for you, is that if you get a part replaced in Melbourne and the same part goes wrong in Brisbane then you should not be charged again for the part itself. We also found, that they are generally pretty helpful towards backpackers (One shop even let my partner borrow their tools as he is a mechanic at home and knew how to take a look at a problem).
- The Reject Shop: This is essentially a chain dollar store. They sell all the same things you might find at a dollar store at home such as cheap toiletries, glassware, and dish soap or laundry detergent.
- BCF: Boating, camping, fishing. The name summarizes it all.
A combination of all of the above have allowed us to set up our van perfectly. Our first line of action is to search op-shops for used. But if time was of the essence, we bought new.
Which Supermarkets to get your Groceries In:
- Costco: Australia has Costcos! If you have a Costco card at home bring your card. This is not necessarily the most practical place to shop for a lot of things as space could be a restriction but they do sell bulk things you may need.
- Woolworths: Woolworths are often viewed as the more expensive option. We like them for their kebabs in the meat section. In addition, they claim that they give a lifetime warranty on their reusable bags (We have not yet tried to take them up on that though).
- Coles: Coles is my favourite grocery store as they often have great music playing. The prices are typically a bit cheaper. The selection in Coles and Woolworths are comparable.
- Aldi: Another basic supermarket with a lot of the groceries you might need. We have heard that they are one of the cheapest options but we do not seem to come across them as much as Coles or Woolworths.
Do not forget to get some reusable bags, plastic kills!
- JB-Hi-Fi: This is like a Best Buy. An everything you need electronic store.
- The Good Guys: This is like a “discount” Best Buy. The prices do not seem that much cheaper to me though.
So far these are all of the places we have come across that have similar counterparts in Canada or that may just sell things that you need to help you along the way. Moving to a new place is really exciting and you may find yourself wanting to buy everything! I know we did. But, take time and think about your purchases and if this is actually necessary. Believe me, living in a van provides you with very little space and it absolutely sucks to donate away stuff you bought because it ends up not being practical or fitting anywhere. Take your time, you have at least a year!
Have any stores or any others been a lifesaver for you? Tell us about them in the comments!