How to choose a free camping spot

Free camping and low cost sites can be a good way to avoid busy crowds and packed sites, as well as assist you with your budgets.  First thing though, especially if you are new to this, is that you really need to think some things through.

Do your research

What do you need from your site?

Think things through, don't leave it until the last minute especially so if you are new to camping or are planing to go to busy places or during busy times such as the Christmas School holiday break. Each one of us have different needs and desires. They are different. What I consider important you might consider as irrelevant and vice versa.

  • Access for transport and accommodation
  • Minimum size needed
  • Level sites
  • Fire or no fire
  • Shade or sun
  • Access to services such as toilet, potable shower, power.
  • Are Pets allowed


What do you desire in your campsite?

  • Setting: bush, river, lake, scenic etc
  • Proximity to neighbours
  • Swimming/Fishing/Boating

When you know what it is that you need and what you would like to have in a campsite, then you are much more able to find satisfaction and enjoy your holiday experience whether it be for a day or two or for an extended lifestyle. Sometimes you won’t be able to achieve all of the above factors in a campsite. However if you are free camping, then you have the freedom to stay put or move on. This is why I much prefer the term Freedom Camping as to the more negative connotation that seems to accompany the term "free camping".

As free camping sites are typically found in more remote and untouched areas, frequently you might be able to select a spot as far away from others as you would like. The remote locations of the campsite also mean that you really should try to be as self-sufficient as possible. This is in regards to providing your own food, water and power where needed. It is also necessary to consider how self contained you are. You need to give some thought to how you are going to dispose of grey water and of course your black water (toilet waste). Ideally you should be able to carry both until you can reach a certified dump point. It is acceptable in some locations to allow your grey water to be discharged onto the ground but do ensure it is free from waste food that can attract unwanted attention form animals or insects and could possibly harm them. Also take into considerations the detergents that you use are environmental friendly, ie no harsh chemicals. We also need to ensure that it can not run into any creeks or water supplies. In emergency situations you could bury the food waste away from where people or animals can not come upon it or dig it up. It is NEVER acceptable to dispose of your black water anywhere other than at designated Dump Points.

Our Robbiebago has a large capacity black water tank and a smaller grey water tank.

Guides and Apps

Do your research

When looking for camping spots, it always helps to do your research. In general, the more remote the area the more likely it is that it’s free or very low cost. We tend to research this online using a travel app such as Wikicamps or GeoWiki. Both of these are online storage "library" of nearly all the free camping sites, campgrounds, caravan parks, national parks, dump points and many other points of interest useful for travelling around Australia. Both Apps have a comment section which is a handy way of gauging how busy a campsite might be at a particular time of year, and any other useful tidbits that might help fellow campers, e.g. pub happy hour is at 4 pm!  GeoWiki is only available as a member benefit of the Campervan and Motorhome Club of Australia (CMCA). It is a very reliable resource and it is 100% verified and moderated by trusted members of the club. If you are not tech savvy, then Camps Australia Wide is a great resource. There are other books and talking to other travellers and the local Tourist Information Centres are for gathering information. Especially on the Apps, do read the reviews of a good half a dozen people as we all have different expectations. I have heard that some caravan park owners are likely to rubbish a nearby free camping ground as they mistakenly believe that it 'robs' them of potential customers, not recognizing that the vast majority of free campers would much rather move on to the next free camp site than stay in a caravan park. There will always be people that want or need a caravan park at times.
There are lots of additional information you can check out on the apps.

Out Back Out Bush

Keep it legal

When you spot a secluded area where you are keen to set up camp, whether it be for one night or much longer, be sure to check first whether it is legal for you to camp there. It could be a private property, council or shire land or crown land.  It can also be helpful to be aware of any restrictions  before you set up camp esp in regards to fire regulations and animal control.

National Parks

One Pass doesn't cover all of the National Parks

I know it seems silly but National Parks are not so National... they are  administered by states and as such one pass will not cover across borders. Heck, some don't even cover all the National Parks within the same state.
Most of the time now,  you need to book your National Park campsite, even during school terms and during off season, let alone during peak holiday times. This can make it harder to choose just where to camp as most of the time you have to go where you are allocated to you. This might not be the sort of campsite you want or need. So make sure to  research as much as possible and in our experience, don't bother to ask over the phone when booking as most of the time the staff is a long way away in a city office with no intimate knowledge that the site is great for pitching a tent but impossible for a RV or vice versa which has happened to us on a few occasions.

Driving on the beach at Cape Le Grand National Park WA.

Camping Etiquette

How to  make friends not enemies

Once you have chosen your destination there are a few polite things you can do to help ensure the pleasure of camping for yourself as well as your neighbours. I might even  write up a separate post covering this in more detail. But for now consider these points.

  • Arrive (and depart) at the camp site at a reasonable hour so as to minimize disturbing your neighbours
  • Don't camp too close. 5m is too close for some. Unless it is very crowded, try to leave a fair amount of space between you and your nearest neighbour. If in doubt ask them if they mind.
  • Don't block access for other vehicles coming or leaving.
  • Consider noise whether it be your music or TV or the doors on your vehicle.
  • Don't not leave any toilet waste above ground whether it be paper or worst! Dig it in if you must go outside. No one wants to stumble upon someone's feces/faeces. Don't knock off the toilet paper in toilets either.

Don't steal the toilet paper.

1 comment:

  1. After living the Lifestyle for a few years it is amazing how knowledgeable one becomes.
    It is sad when you travel to areas where others believe that it is quite exceptable to ruin it for those that use proper etiquette.
    When asked by some of our neighbours at our summer park and we explain what being "Off the Grid" means we are sometimes called Extremists. Being so puts a smile on our faces knowing that we are helping the Environment.
    Be Safe and continue to Enjoy your adventures.

    It's about time.


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