|Lots of room free camping at Bethune Park, Ouse, Qld|
From this we discovered many benefits of free camping.
It’s free:Oh duh! That's why it is called free camping. Personally I like the term "freedom camping" even better! What a great way to offset the cost of travelling especially these huge distances within Australia.
It’s friendly:Especially if you have rocked up to a popular site, you’re instantly welcomed into the grey nomad set. Popularity is governed generally by the natural beauty of the spot, the ease of parking, accessibility to a nearby town or tourist attraction and/or a toilet. Once in a while you will strike one with free showers and/or maybe even power too! These rare gems are treasured and word gets out and about. So make sure to get there early for a good spot! Pay If there is a donation box there, please make the donation so that there is a good chance these places are still there for others to enjoy. (By the way, to these providers I say a hearty thank you!)
|You might even get lucky with an impromptu music sing along|
No booking required:It is great for those that don’t plan their journey too rigourously. You can just pull up when you are ready. No need to stick to an agenda, so if you like a place, you can stay and investigate (within site regulations) and if you don’t like it then you can move on quickly! Another reason why I prefer the term "freedom camping".
|Just rock up when you are ready to stop|
It’s easy going:Most grey nomads are a friendly easy going lot. Who can you complain to if the long drop is rather stinky or the ground is not level. You don’t have to use it or stay there! Frequently there is someone who has started a fire (when allowed) and there’s likely to be a happy hour going somewhere from anytime esp around 4-6pm which are generally open to all comers with smile, or start up your own! Even if you want your own company, you can have that too, just park on the fringes.
|Mates around a campfire|
Security is what you make it:
This is the toughest part of free camping. Generally both commonsense and experience when camping but in most places campers are a friendly neighbourly bunch. Still we feel more secure if at least one camper joins us at a free camp. Having said that, we’ve never had a single negative experience in terms of security. However I would say trust your instincts or you’re in for a long night. We will stop at a free camp where there are no other campers, usually by 2pm. Sometimes it just take one to stop and others travelling by might decide to stop there too now that someone has stopped first. If no one else has stopped to join us by 4pm then we might move on to the next place that has some people. Again trust your instincts! Take photos of other campers esp their rigs and number plates if you like. (It is easy to delete them the next morning when you wake up.) Don't forget to lock your doors. Security is what you make it!
Usually Pet friendly:Another advantage of free camping is that your fur baby is welcome too. They are usually prohibited in National Parks and some council sites. In order to maintain this privilege please keep your dog on a lead if required; or if other people, wildlife or stock are around - and for goodness stake, please pick up their droppings!
|A gorgeous staffy kept on a lead|
Do your research:Do you have enough power, water and food for the duration of your camp? Not all places welcome genies and fires. Don’t forget your toilet. If you need to go bush toilet, then take a shovel or even a garden spade and hide the evidence including toilet paper and go a long away from the populated areas.
|Aussie True Blue Bush toilet!|
|or a bring your own toilet|
Where these free camps?We use 2 apps as our main sources of information: WikiCamps and GeoWiki (the latter is available to CMCA members only). Next we use word-of-mouth through questions and chats usually over happy hour. We started off with CampsAustraliaWide books but that is less and less often now since we have the apps. RV and Caravan magazines are another way to learn about free camps. Last but not least is the Tourist Information Offices in many towns. They have personal knowledge of their areas as well as brochures on what’s available in their area as well as interesting places to sight see whilst you’re in the area.
So if you are yet to try free camping rest assured there is an entry level to suit any comfort zone. A little research is all you need. We just appreciate the choice is ours!
|The painted toilets at Frances Creek, Qld|