What is free camping?

Free Camping is the Australian equivalent to Boondocking or dry camping. It offers you an unparallelled opportunity to really connect with mother nature. Camping for free? We all like to get a bargain. Sure it might be a cost effective way to see the country, but you will find there are many other advantages too.

Chasing the sunsets
Free camping is not for everyone. If your idea of a holiday is a long hot bath, air conditioning and a restaurant or nightclub down the road then free camping is not for you.

Can you live without some creature comforts?
Free camping basically means that you park your caravan or motorhome somewhere where there are little or no amenities that is no water, no electricity, or or toilets. There are many areas now that are welcoming free campers, some have a few restrictions usually as to the length of your stay. All you have to rely on is what you brought with you. Most caravans and motorhomes are capable of free camping for a night or two. The next question is for how long and in what degree of comfort can you free camp? And the answer to that is how long is a piece of string? There are so many variables.

Generally, what limits your stay is the capacities of your RV in water storage, sewage storage, and battery charging.

Water Storage

Carrying your own water with you is great and generally the more water you can carry the better but has its draw backs too as weight is involved. You can also extend your fresh water capacity by carrying dedicated jerry cans or other containers to extend your stay. However at around 1kg per litre, the weight can quickly add up and may overload the axles and/or tyres.

Water capacity is also important


It not anyone's favourite topic but we all have to do it and it is also a vital part of the equation when free camping. There are 2 types of waste waters: grey & black. Pure sewage is black water. Washing up, showers etc falls into grey water category. There are strict regulations about disposing of both types of tanks. Please don't think that just because you are away from the towns that you can do what you like. There are serious health issues which leads to a ethical responsibility to dispose of all rubbish in a caring manner. You can't even empty the tanks into many of the bush toilets that you will find as you will destroy the bacterial environment that can not cope with the chemicals you need to put into your own tanks to keep the bacteria and smells at a minimum. There are more and more Dump Spots located around the country where you can legally and safely deposit your waste water.

The capacity of your black and grey water tanks will also limit your stays

Alternate Power Source

Power is generally from batteries. You can use deep cycle batteries, lithium batteries or use a generator. The problem is that they can drain quickly and thus need to be charged up. If you are not careful you could easily drain the batteries in one night. There are ways to increase battery life such as solar power or a generator to recharge the batteries during the day. Generators are big and fuel hungry, so now you have to transport extra fuel as well as listen to the loud racket they make.

You need to supply your own power source

Security v Isolation

One of the biggest drawbacks for some people is the lack of security. If you take a few precautions it shouldn't spoil your fun. We like to park in designated free camping spots with other like minded campers. We believe in safety in numbers. So we tend to stop traveling by about 3pm. If there is no-one else there that is still OK as quite often people will stop once they see that someone else is there. However if no-one else stops by about 4.30, we might get back on the road and try the next stop where it is likely there are more people.

Meeting some other campers around 'happy hour'

We like to walk around and introduce ourselves and get to meet our neighbours, even arrange a communal happy hour. This also helps each of us to gauge one another. I like to do any outdoor business such as walking the dog and checking engine done in daylight. We have taken discreet photos of other vehicles number plates and will park the vehicle in such a way that we can drive off in a hurry if we feel a need to. We don't like to leave things set up outside such as a portable BBQ or camp chairs and table. Just because you're with other campers doesn't mean there's not a thief among them. We will use a public toilet if available during daylight hours but will use our own in house one after dark. Be alert and cautious but don't be fearful. You want to enjoy your lifestyle. Most of the other campers will be nice people who just want to enjoy themselves too.


Keep your vehicles in top condition. Do check out the "clicking" noise you heard earlier. Check the tyre pressure, oil levels etc on a regular basis. Quite often you are a long way from a mechanic when you need one, you certainly don't want the expense just because you got a bit lazy!

Check your tyres regularly (Image from Bodeswell)

Where do you find those great camp spots?

Some of the best places are usually found by word of mouth from people whom you've met on the road. Just remember everyone's definition of a great spot is different. We have been to places that others rave about ad we have gotten there and looked and each other and said "why here?" Occasionally you will befriend others who might even invite you to join them on part of the next leg of their trip.

There are also some great guides for you to use. Camps Australia Wide has a great book out with a appliaction for GPS add ons too which we have found invaluable. Wikicamps is also highly recommended. 

Rocky beachscape at Barn Hill

It also pays to stop and ask the locals especially at any "Information/Visitor's Centres"
Join a caravan or motorhome club or association, They not only have great little camp weekends and occasional rallies but they also know of some great locations to visit. You can also join online clubs or follow some blogs or facebook pages of people with similar interests as you.

 Saddlier's Waterhole  at Morven
There are certain points of etiquette to observe. But basically be considerate and remember that the very best free campers are those who take nothing but photographs [and memories] and leave nothing but footprints. Do this and we can all have free camping around for the enjoyment of anyone for decades to come.

We were fascinated by the folded rocks at Hammersley Gorge

No comments:

Post a Comment

Thank you so much for popping by, I appreciate your comments!