Throwing an esky in the boot and jumping behind the wheel to explore this vast and beautiful country is a dream for many Australians. The rugged terrain and sheer size of Australia mean that many of us won’t have a chance to explore it until we retire, joining the hordes of ‘grey nomads’ making the most of the open road.
Each day around 80,000 people are exploring the country in campervans, motorhomes or RVs, visiting the 4000 free campsites scattered across the country, says TravelTalk. But before you pack your bags and hit the road, there are some important things everyone should know about camping in Australia.
Finding free campsites
Before you head off on your adventure, it’s important to make the most of the free resources available. Jump onto campermate.com.au to learn about camping, accommodation, vehicle hire and, most importantly, free campsites. Go to the Appstore on your phone and download the free CamperMate app to find campsites near you, see photos and read reviews from other visitors.
To keep an eye on weather forecasts and make sure you’re prepared, download the Bureau of Meteorology’s (BOM’s) weather app. If you look up at the stars at night and wonder what constellations you can see, download the free StarWalk app, which tells you what’s what.
Because caravan parks are privately run, it will cost money to stay in one overnight. However, gaining access to shower blocks, power and laundry facilities may be worth the small cost, especially in small communities that would benefit from the business.
Don’t drive drowsy
Fatigue remains one of the top four killers on Australian roads, so take regular breaks. You’ll find strips of carpark flanking highways designed for truckies and drivers to pull in and rest. Have a stretch, take a powernap and remember, it’s better to arrive late than to not arrive at all.
Some roadside stops also double as free camping stops, while others don’t. These stops are managed by local councils, so the laws on setting up camp will vary depending on where you are. In NSW, fines for illegal camping can range from $110 to $2200, and extreme or repeated offences may even result in a Court Attendance Notice and a penalty of up to $110,000. Always look for ‘no camping’ signs and ask around if you’re unsure.
Stay on the good side of the other campers you meet along the way; you never know who you’ll run into again down the road. Clean up after yourself. Leaving rubbish behind is a big no-no and is likely to put you in the bad books, if not earn you a fine. Don’t start a fire on days of total fire bans or in areas where it’s not permitted. Don’t be obnoxious. Taking up a large portion of a campground and causing other groups to cluster together is guaranteed to earn you a few eye rolls.
While free camping in Australia may be relatively easy, you’ll still need to buy food, fuel and ice along the way. If you haven’t planned your trip yet, consider an adventure to smaller communities. Your business will help boost the local economy.
If you have any tips on free camping in Australia, feel free to share them in the comments section below.
Also read: Six reasons why self-drive is better