Free Camping Code of Conduct

Posted Posted in Caravaning, Travelling

Following are excerpts of two different Free Camping Code of Conduct guidelines.

Leave No Trace – Self Containment Code of Conduct

This scheme, established for the verification of recreational vehicles which comply with the requirements of the ‘Leave No Trace Self Containment Code of Conduct’, provides an opportunity to show the controlling authorities of rest areas and camping sites with no infrastructure, that there will be no negative environmental impact when allowing the responsible use of sites by self-contained vehicles, be they self-drive or towed units.

The scheme requires all participating vehicles to have the capacity to retain ALL waste within the confines of the vehicle, and to leave NO trace whatsoever of their visit to a site.

It should be understood that participation in this scheme is a privilege and does not bring with it any rights. We also need to accept that it is a privilege for authorities to grant mobile travellers access to controlled areas.

To participate in this scheme, please complete and sign the attached Application Form and advise details of your method of payment. You must also sign the Declaration on the reverse side, stating that you agree to abide by the Code of Conduct. This is a key part of the Leave No Trace programme, as it is your commitment to at all times do the right thing by the authorities, and also to do the right thing by your fellow travellers.

Once your application has been processed, you will be forwarded a Letter of Acknowledgement and an internal sticker to be affixed to the window of your accommodation unit.

Maximum Stay

To stay in any Rest Area for a maximum of 5 nights, unless otherwise posted, or for the period that the Accommodation Vehicle can be self contained. (If the vehicle capabilities are 2 days this will become the limit. If the vehicle’s capability is for longer than 5 days, 5 days shall be the limit, unless otherwise posted.)It is obvious that every user of an RV has differing demands of their RV and will use the facilities on board in a manner that suits their needs and travelling habits. For example, some users will require more in the way of water per day than others. The use of public facilities will also need to be taken into account in determining the capacity of an RV. It is therefore difficult to determine an exact amount of water that is required for any RV for a given period of time. If your RV has limited facilities, these limitations must be taken into account when staying in one location. It is incumbent on all users of the Leave No Trace scheme to honour their Declaration and adhere to their RV’s limitations according to the spirit of the Code of Conduct. Remember to use water wisely and respect any local water restrictions.

Obtain Permission

To obtain permission to stay from the relevant authority where applicable, and to obey any posted regulations. (It may be necessary to obtain a permit from the controlling authority. In some instances a fee may be payable. Where authorities have posted signs, these will override any other considerations)Respect any location that may not be sign posted or listed in any publication. Many locations throughout the country, especially in more remote regions, offer the opportunity to stay overnight. Please remember that these locations will only be available if you uphold the spirit of the Code of Conduct. Respect any person of authority that may request you to move on.

Unacceptable Use of Fittings

To not use awnings, chairs or barbeques unless in a designated camping area. (Be aware of my surroundings and only camp in appropriate areas. For example, it may not be acceptable to set up overnight camp in a roadside rest area.)Not all locations are suitable for camping. Many locations may be suitable for just one nights rest. Please use good judgment when you decide to ‘set up camp’. Members of the public are sympathetic to an overnight rest, but are not so sympathetic to those who set up camp in an inappropriate location. Camp fires and laundry hanging from trees are certain to attract unwanted attention. Please only ‘camp’ in locations that are obviously ‘camping’ locations.

No Damage to Property

To not drive in any area or use hydraulic jacks or other levelling devices such as wooden blocks when damage may occur to soft surfaces. Heavy vehicles may damage soft surfaces through inappropriate use of levelling blocks or jacks. (Driving any vehicles on soft surfaces may cause damage.)Many locations are hard based but some are grassed. These areas can easily be damaged. Authorities will be reluctant to allow the use of these locations if users cause damage to surfaces that would require continual maintenance. Users of large, heavy vehicles should be especially cautious where they park.

Clean Up After Use

To always leave an area cleaner than I find it.It is very easy to spend five or ten minutes picking up garbage in a rest area. This single act will do more for your welcome than almost any other act. Please use a pair of gloves and put any rubbish into a plastic bag and place into any bins at the location.

Care For The Environment

To always take care of the natural environment. (If they are permitted, keep camp fires small, and do not collect firewood from inappropriate areas. Do not cut living foliage, pick wild flowers or disturb wildlife.)


To park my vehicle so as not to obstruct reasonable passage, exit or access to other vehicles or property. Please be courteous and do not park in a manner that impedes the movement of other vehicles. Many rest areas also serve as access points for local properties. Be aware of any tracks or gates. Do not park in rest areas that are used by heavy transports in a manner that impedes their movements. Always try to park to one side so that they can see you as they enter the area. Trucks are an important part of our economy, and the misuse of rest areas by RV’s may jeopardise the privilege to use the site.

Caravan Parks

To not park overnight or camp within line of sight of a Caravan Park unless in an approved overnight rest area. Caravan parks are an important part of the RVing way of life. It is essential that we support caravan parks whenever it is possible. However, we need to realise that not all caravan parks support stopping in locations other than in a commercial park. Please do not provoke any adverse response by parking where this may happen.

Litter Disposal

To dispose of all rubbish, and grey and black water in an appropriate manner. (All grey and black water MUST be retained in holding tanks or suitable sealable containers at all times, unless permitted to drain grey water onto the ground by a controlling authority.) This is the key to the Leave No Trace scheme. When you leave a site, ensure that you only leave tyre marks. Wherever practically possible, use public dump points and rubbish bins. Before setting out to remote areas, ensure that grey and black water holding tanks are empty. Where there is absolutely no alternative, please refer to the CMCA Bush Camping Code.

Vehicle Sticker

To display the Leave No Trace vehicle sticker on the front passenger side of my self-drive vehicle windscreen, or for towed units, on the window closest to the entrance door, and to remove it prior to my disposing of the vehicle.

Support The Locals

To purchase fuel, food or supplies as a form of thanks, whenever feasible.As you travel this country, be aware that the various authorities have made many locations available to you, to encourage you to stay in their area. A simple way of showing your appreciation to these authorities is to patronise business in the area. Authorities will support your visits, especially if their constituents are happy and supportive of the facilities that the authorities have supplied.

ACCESS – Australian Caravan Club Environmentally Safe Scheme

The ACCESS Code of Conduct

The ACCESS Code of Conduct has been developed as a Club initiative to assist Members to understand their rights and also the privileges they enjoy in independent camping. Central to the Code is the concept of self-containment as defined later. As important, in many respects, are other elements of the Code which require that members act as responsible citizens wherever they utilise roadside rest areas, authorised stopovers or other independent camping areas, whether or not self-containment is a requirement of the campsite or rest area.

The Rights of the Travelling Public

The requirement, of the travelling public, for overnight rest areas and the desire of many to occasionally spend short periods camped away from commercial camping facilities is recognised and supported by the ACC.

ACC Supports the Local Authority

The Australian Caravan Club Ltd (ACC) supports the right of State and Local Government authorities to impose realistic conditions on the use of overnight and short-term camping sites, by all sectors of the travelling public. It is realistic to require that travellers respect the facilities provided and, where there are none, that they conform to basic requirements for containment of waste and limitation of impact on the environment.

The Self Containment Concept

The ACC defines a self-contained member caravan, or camper trailer, as one which, amongst other things:

  • is equipped to meet the washing and sanitary needs of the occupants for a given period, depending on the caravan or trailer design and utilisation,
  • carries fresh water for personal consumption, cooking and ablution
  • contains appropriate storage for waste water, both “grey” and “black until these can be properly disposed of at an authorised facility, and
  • provides temporary storage of kitchen and other waste.
Guidelines for Self-Containment

While some member caravans or trailers may have a fixed self-containment capability, others can be made self sufficient and self-contained for varying periods. These capabilities may be temporarily or permanently upgraded, depending on the proposed use of the caravan or trailer. Some member’s caravans or trailers may have no self-containment facilities. The ACC cannot therefore require a universally applicable period of self-sufficiency.

The following guidelines may be used in calculating self-containment capability:

  • Fresh water 10 litres per person per day
  • Grey Water 5 litres per person per day
  • Black Water 5 litres per person per day
  • Cassettes 3 litres per person per day
  • Domestic garbage A sealable container (or garbage bag) which adequately contains waste and odours, until it can be correctly disposed of.
Regulation of the Code of Conduct

The ACC, in establishing the ACCESS Code of Conduct, intends it to be implemented through self-regulation. A formal process of “certification” is seen as providing a snapshot of capability at a particular time. Certification, per se, is a declaration of capability and not necessarily of intent. The ACC believes that the requirement for members to assess capability and review the Code of Conduct, on each occasion that they wish to operate away from established facilities, will constantly reinforce the value and importance of this environmental initiative. The Code covers matters beyond “containment”.

Responsibilities of Members

The ACC imposes on Members wishing to utilise rest areas, authorised stopovers or other camping facilities, (where the regulating authority demands self-containment), a requirement to recognise, and accept the ACCESS Code of Conduct. Where containment is required by the regulating authority, Members are to comply with specified conditions. Members who accept the ACCESS Code of Conduct, are to display the ACCESS sticker on the door of the caravan (or similar position on a camper trailer) as a notification to authorities of a capability and intent to comply with camping conditions and minimise impact on the environment. A completed copy of the ACCESS Code of Conduct (in effect an agreement between the ACC Member and the relevant authority) should be available for viewing if required.


Members wishing to participate in the ACCESS scheme must apply to the ACC Secretary using the ACCESS Application Form, which is available on the ACC Web Site and from the ACC Secretary. An administrative charge of $5 will be made for this service and this amount should be forwarded with the application. On receipt of the completed form, the ACC will record Members’ details in Register of ACCESS Applicants and return a copy of the Code of Conduct and an ACCESS sticker to the member.

Cleaning The Onboard Water Tank

Posted Posted in Caravaning

Poly tanks usually don’t have a plastic taste after an initial fill and flush.

Any plastic taste usually comes from garden hoses or poor quality food grade hoses used to fill the tank.

To clean the onboard water tank, try draining the tank, then refill with fresh water and a cup of (Non Scented) Bleach. Any brand that you use at home will do.

Leave for a day or two then empty the onboard water tank.

Fill & flush, then refill again.

This is the most common method and usually works well.

Load Levelling Devices – The Real Story

Posted Posted in Caravaning

Definitive statements that these units are NOT required or should not be used are being promulgated widely on a number of forums and Barry from Cabolture Caravan Repairs feels that these comments can, and will, be taken as gospel by a novice caravanner.

A copy of his comments is posted here for future reference:

A degree of reality has to be reached where CORRECT information is disseminated through the Forum or, if this can’t be controlled, then the correct information should be placed in a readily accessed area of the forum as a public service, not just for the use of members but so that casual browsers can be correctly informed as well. This definitive information is critically important to the overall well being and reputation of the caravan fraternity, particularly when the safety of all road users is involved.

Briefly, the use of a correct load levelling device is, in most instances, NOT left to the personal choice of the owner. The vast majority of vehicles used to tow caravans, [and other trailers], in Australia are specifically required to be fitted with such a device when towing, not just when towing a large caravan or at the option of the owner, but when towing a trailer – period. It would take many pages of documentation to define all models and all specifics but in general the popular towing vehicles that MUST be fitted with such a device when towing include the following

Toyota – most models including all popular towing units.
Holden – most models including all popular towing units.
Mitsubishi – most models including all popular towing units. Pajero when the towed load exceeds 1350kg.
Ford ‘F’ Trucks – all models.
Mazda – most models including all popular towing units.
Jeep – most models including all popular towing units.
Suburu – most popular towing models.
Korean 4WD’s – most towing capable models are required to use a load levelling device.
European 4WD’s – most towing capable models are required to use a load levelling device.

Popular towing Vehicles that are not specifically required to be fitted with load leveling devices but to which serious consideration should be given to fitting such a device include:

Ford – in most instances requirements are not specifically stated, refer to owner’s handbook or owner’s choice. Some Ford models have speed limits relative to towed weight and other more specific requirements.

Nissan – in most instances requirement is not specifically stated, refer to owner’s hand book or owner’s choice. Some Nissan models have a variable ball weight allowance relative to the vehicle load.

There are many others of course but I thought that listing these particular units covered a reasonable range of popular towing units.

An important point to remember is that these requirements apply to all towing, whether it be a caravan, camper trailer, boat trailer, large box trailer or horse float.

Anyone who wants to obtain definitive information regarding their specific vehicle should :

  1. Read the fine details in the owner’s hand book.
  2. Contact the Engineering section of the vehicle manufacturer and request specifically defined advice regarding the vehicle in question. In general it is a waste of time talking to a dealer or a salesperson in a dealership, they usually either don’t know or don’t care. [The same thing often applies in many caravan dealerships.]
  3. Contact a member of the R.V.M.A.A. or a member of a State Caravan Trades Associations [eastern states], and request the relevant information from the Towing Mass Guide which should have been supplied to those members. This guide is usually up-dated bi-annually and is for in house use but it can be used as an information source for owners or buyers of caravans. The N.R.M.A., the R.A.C.Q. and similar bodies may also be able to help.

After being involved in the Caravan Industry for over thirty years, both as a Repairer and a Designer/Manufacturer, it is my personal opinion that anyone who uses a van of any size without the appropriate load leveling device installed is a fool and a danger both to himself and to other road users. I make this comment with total regard to the opinions that many owners have of their personal abilities when towing. No one can foretell the unforeseen, and it is the unforeseen that will bite these fools on the backside when the worst case scenario takes place.

The overall state of accurate knowledge supplied by, and for the R/V Industry is usually poor to say the least. Some of the set ups on some of the rigs that call in to our establishment for service or repair are frightening to behold. Frankly, for example, the concept of a lightweight towing vehicle with a towing allowance of 3000kg of pull and 300kg on the towball being used to tow a van of this size without a weight distributing device terrifies me. Braking must be compromised, handling must be compromised and driving comfort must be at a minimum.

Get with the programme guys.



Port-A-Loo Raiser

Posted Posted in Caravaning

Here’s a great idea to lift your portable toilet without taking up valuable room in your caravan.

  1. Even before buying the material keep chanting “Measure twice, cut once”
  2. The Loo Raiser is made from a 600 x 900 piece of 19 mm outdoor ply.
  3. The critical measurements are:
    1. length of storage space into which the support will fit (54 cm)
    2. max diagonal across base (44 cm)
    3. amount of lift required (200 – 250 mm)
    4. max width of support board (320 mm)
  4. 3 a) less 3 b) left 50 mm / 2″ each end – a good hunk of meat left behind.
  5. Board height (900 mm) less 3 d) divided by two said each of the base boards could be up to 290 mm high, again 50 mm to ‘cup’ the loo to save it sliding forward or back or sideways.

Next cut the sheet of ply into 1 of 600 x 320 and 2 of 600 x 290, and then trim these to 2 of 540 x 290.

Carefully measuring the middle of each, mark where the notches will be, allow for the fact that the board will not be crossing at right angles but more at 120 / 60 degrees and use a set square to mark the channel 20 mm wide (remember board is 19 mm thick). Cut the notches with the jigsaw base slightly rotated to give the required angle.

Then measure the size of the trough to be cut into the top of each board to keep it snug so that the loo won’t slide.

If you cut the base board over size you can cut locator notches into each corner. These can be cut freehand with the jigsaw. It worked perfectly first time.

Before taking it all apart (and save trouble re-assembling it) mark a large letter “A” on the three surfaces that need to go together.

Stain it with some decking oil to preserve the wood and hide any mud or dirt. The finishing touch could be some rubber feet in case the ground isn’t smooth or level.

The off cut from the base board will make a great jack plate for soft ground.

Choosing a New Van

Posted Posted in Caravaning

This is always an interesting topic. Everyone has their own personal preferences, however “Geezer_David” from CaravanForum has provided his thoughts on choosing a new van.

I’ve taken the liberty of reformatting his comments to make them more readable.

“From 30+ years of caravanning, and having lived full time in caravans for a total period of 10 years at different periods of time, this would be my specification for a caravan for two people.

Full height van no bigger than 20′ and preferably 18′ 6″.  Many buy vans over 20′ and then want to come back to the 18′ 6″.  A well properly designed layout caravan to live in full time can comfortably be 18′ 6″.

Tandem wheels and normal load sharing spring suspension is fine with shock absorbers
15″ wheels as you can get better rated load tyres compared to 14”.  Other advantage 15″ ride better and don’t have to be inflated to high pressures to carry load. Only one spare wheel.

Prefer door at front of van than rear of caravan.

Glass windows a must and NO padded pelmets or ancillary upholstery that creates a nightmare when you want to get new curtains or dinette recovered.

NO carpet all quality vinyl sheet.  Use Walkatex or similar for mats on floor.  Walkatex is well worth chasing down from carpet shop.  Can be cut easily to fit, never curls or lifts at edges, can be scrubbed and scrubbed and scrubbed.  We have some fifteen years old still going strong.

Must have a shower – consider using a porta-potty in the shower in preference to an installed toilet.  Besides been much cheaper, they are easily and cheaply replaced, easily emptied like a cassette toilet, if the plastic scratches or stains on the Thetford or the Thetford needs difficult to expensive repairs, with a porta-potty you just buy a new one.  If you do have a toilet installed, then the Dometic VT2500 vacuum toilet is the go and takes up less space in the shower.  I would never have a separate shower and WC as to much wasted space.  Shower to have extractor fan and window.

Hot water system – Trauma is without a doubt the best all stainless steel, uses substantially less gas proportionately than other brands.  Attwood is also all stainless steel tank, but gas system is agricultural/crude compared to Trauma – hence why Trauma uses so much less gas.  Stay well away from Suburban hot water systems, have expensive anodes that have to be constantly checked and changed, get all the junk from the anode through your hot water system, have to drain the hot water system when not in use to stop electrolysis.

Gas – must have 2 x 9.0kg bottles

Water tanks 2 x 80L with independent fillers. Ball valve tap on front of A frame so this can be converted to use for filling tanks. There are other plumbing modifications you will need to do yourself – being able to suck directly with your 12v pump from a 20 litre container or bucket etc.

Stove must have an oven and a 12v Range hood.

Microwave – No.  If you are dedicated free campers like we are and so many others, they use the microwave as a bread cupboard and for storing other items like the first-aid kit.

Fridge 150L Waeco or Vitrifrigio compressor fridge, or if you go down the path of a Dometic 3 way, then make sure and *insist* it is a Climate Class ‘T’ – Tropical rated.  My preference is a 12v fridge.  Whatever fridge you install, you must insist that the fridge is installed 100% to the manufacturers specifications.  Jayco and many other caravan manufacturers have no idea how to read a Dometic fridge installation manual.  One of the few caravan manufacturers that installs fridges correctly is Evernew.  Once you go over 150L in a fridge compressor type or 3 way, they use significant amounts of fuel, regardless of solar panel, power on 12v or gas.  Large 3 way fridges running off gas use a significant amount of gas and yes, it does get expensive to power them.

Solar system with adequate solar capacity to power everything in winter.

Lighting look for the 22w 12v fluoro lights installed as the main lights and powered from a 240v – 12vDC power supply when connected to mains.  This will give you great lighting when on 240v and 12v and saves having to add extra lights.

Stay well away from any halogen lights anywhere.  They are useless as bed lamps as the heat given off makes them not useable.  A 13w ‘U’ tube CF fluoro over the bed underneath the overhead cupboards is the go.

Dinette where the seats are opposite each other in preference to an ‘L’ shaped dinette.

Don’t waste money on a Wineguard TV aerial as they are not suitable for all the new digital channels, do not do vertical polarisation which is approximately 50% of locations.  Use Digimatch Explorer aerial with 12vDC Kingray MHW34GLV aerial amplifier.

15″ LCD TV with Humax 12v/240v F2-1010T STB (Set Top Box) – don’t buy a STB that does not have a Phillips tuner.

Car radio with CD and remote control – for value for money and especially reception performance Sanyo presently is hard to beat from Strathfield.

Make sure TV and radio etc. can all be viewed and operated from bed.

NextG/CDMA Marine type fold down aerial for mobile phone and mobile Internet.

Where they have the extra seat opposite the dinette which is seldom used get cupboards and large draws installed in its place.

Get the double bed made 100mm higher than standard.  Gives more space for bulky items like doona etc. under the bed, makes the bed easier to make and get into, and if you don’t have a shower a full sized porta-potty will fit under bed in porta-potty  – check height dimensions.

Air-conditioning, don’t put a roof top air conditioner in, fit a domestic inverter air conditioner.  The Air Command and like roof air conditioners just don’t work satisfactorily, noisy, leak and generally poor quality and way over-priced for what they are.

FourSeasons hatches, minimum two – no other hatch substitutes.  FourSeasons hatch doubles as pressure vent/hatch on front of van when on gravel roads.

Must have separate wiring circuit with suitably located 240v outlets for 12vDC to 240vAC pure sine-wave inverter. DC wiring and plugs to suitable locations. Outside 240vAC and 12vDC power points.

We have a Lemair washing machine but don’t have it built in.  We carry it in the back of the vehicle and lift it out and use it.  Big advantage you can take the washing machine to the water in preference to taking the water to the washing machine.

This off-road thing – I have taken standard caravans over hundreds of kilometres of dirt roads.  I let the tyres down on the caravan 5psi, drive to the condition of the road and if it is 30 to 40km/h so what, we are in no hurry.  At the end of the day, I don’t want to do a substantial amount of kilometres over evil corrugations for the caravan, tow vehicle or ourselves – it is far from enjoyable and causes to much damage.  No, I don’t want to tow my caravan or my vehicle or myself along the Gibb River Road, I have seen more than sufficient photographs and video from others, and no, I don’t want to tow my caravan along the Birdsville Track and see more kilometres of sand and scrub.

As for the small space – we prefer it to bricks and mortar and have no issue living in the confines of a caravan.  Fortunately no issues about being in the same space as my good wife.  If you have got to our age and your wife is not your best friend, then you are in trouble.  Fortunately my wife loves caravanning, loves travelling, loves the bush parked next to rivers, creeks, dams etc. and likes a little TV.  Consequently I have a satellite TV system we enjoy.”

Thanks for your comments “Geezer_David”, I’m sure I and many others will keep them in mind when considering a new van.