If you are considering “Free Camping” you should consider following the rules outlined below.
Our Bush – Camping Rules
by J & R Green (the Green Pair)
We have a Hi-Ace campervan and overnight stops are not as self-contained as the more elaborate motorhomes. Nevertheless we have been free camping for the last 20 years without any significant problems and the following may be of assistance to those new to motorhoming. (For those members who are experienced, please move to the next article for we do not have the temerity to offer advice to you.)
Despite our limited facilities in the Hi-Ace, over the years we have learned that we can cope with free camping quite readily.
We seldom stay in the nominated rest areas, as we find them, frequently, to be noisy with passing traffic, dirty with overflowing rubbish bins and ground rubbish, smelling of urine (and worse) and are, consequently, a possible health hazard.
Apropos of this, we can understand that local authorities are wary of establishing rest areas because of the difficulties associated with maintaining rest area free of health hazards. Even when they establish the environmentally friendly toilets, it is not long before they are vandalised.
When we have driven enough for the day, it is our practice to turn off the road and drive up into the hinterland. Seldom do we fail to find a quiet spot, often shaded by trees, where we can settle for the night. We use the various booklets that are available listing rest areas but unless they are well off the road or are sufficiently close when we wish to stop, we seek our own spot.
Three golden rules we adopt:
a) we do NOT stop close to a town on a Friday or Saturday night. Often the local lads seek to let off high spirits on these occasions.
b) we do not stay near a town where we know there is a caravan park. They are there to make a living and, justifiably or not, resent free campers.
c) we leave only footprints.
Showering.We use one of the black solar heated bush showers. As we seldom stop long enough for the water to be heated by the sun, we find that a ratio of two kettles of cold water to one of hot provides a satisfactory warm shower. We also often use the showers provided by many country service stations at a modest cost.
Toilet needs.We carry a portapotti. We miss our flush toilet, reluctantly left at home, but find that a portapotti an acceptable alternative. We find that frequent emptying and flushing keeps the facility at an acceptable level. Don’t hesitate to change the seals at regular intervals. For those people who must use the bush for their toilet needs, please follow the rule of digging and burying….and ladies, please take a bag with you to dispose of the tissue rather that leave it as a bush decoration. Tissues last a surprisingly long time!
Grey water from washing up.Once again let common sense prevail. If we have to wash up from a greasy meal (in the interest of good health, we avoid such meals) we carry a Jerry can and dispose of the grey water at a more convenient time and place. However when the wash-up is non-greasy, we let it flow on the ground. When using a good quality detergent in moderation, the resultant deposit on to open ground (not a sealed surface please) does not create a harmful environmental hazard. Despite the fact that some local authorities discharge into the local waterways, we never do.
Power sources.We do not have a generator nor solar panels although we have no objection to them other than seeking moderation in the use of generators. Our refrigerator is gas/electric. Whilst travelling, it is operating on 12v supply and when we stop, we switch to gas. Our 4.5L gas bottle, used for both the refrigerator and for cooking, lasts about 15/17 days. On the rare occasion that we are able to light a fire (increasingly rare nowadays) we observe the usual safety rules of a hazard free location, never leave it unattended and always have only a small fire. Even when using a camp oven this suffices. Finally, use only dead wood, if none is available, manage without a fire.
Clothes.We carry only clothes that do not need ironing. If it needs ironing, leave it at home! We carry a ‘dirty clothes bag’, when it is full we look for a Laundromat. When travelling across the top, off the beaten track, (where laudromats are few and far between), we have to wait until we reach a caravan park. Meanwhile, we wash our smalls daily and hang them to dry inside the rear of the van as we travel. Not as one of our CMCA members did on one memorable occasion when she hung the unmentionables outside the van, then took to the road.
Rubbish.We never leave our rubbish, even when there is a bin available. Crows are most adept at removing plastic bags from bins and scattering the contents in their search for ‘goodies’.
By following the above simple rules, we have enjoyed bush or overnight camping for some 20 years without mishap, enjoying sharing our happy hour with emus, wallabies, echidnas, the occasional fox and dingo. Reluctantly we admit that we have found them better company than some of the noisy, untidy rubbish scattering humans we have met.
We hope that the foregoing might be of interest and even of value to our fellow CMCA members. Happy motorhoming, see you in the bush some night!