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What are the rules of free camping in Australia
Australia has different rules and regulations for free camping by state. Between National Parks, community campsites, roadside rest stops and bush camps, you’re sure to find a spot to stay, but be mindful of the rules so you can avoid getting stung with a fine.
It’s important to note that whenever you camp in the wild, you should leave no trace behind. You should check your campsite before you leave and always respect cultural heritage sites.
1. Freedom camp in approved areas
It’s important to get acquainted with where you can legally camp on the road – lucky for you, we’ve made it super easy. Just download our thl Roadtrip app, and you’ll have access to more information on free and authorised campgrounds.
Local councils can and will issue fines, so be sure to err on the side of caution.
Campgrounds within National Parks and State Forests are almost always immersive and beautiful, so look up nearby National Parks on the road first. That’s where we always start looking.
Some National Parks require camping passes to visit and also stay overnight. Make sure you check out the rules before bedding down for the night.
2. Dispose of motorhome waste properly
Some free camping sites may not provide waste disposal areas, but you should still do all you can to find one nearby. Keep an eye on when you might need to get rid of waste, which is generally every two to three days, and make a plan to detour as necessary.
3. Respect wildlife and the environment
Australia’s precious wildlife rely on us to keep their homes clean and unharmed in order to thrive, so it’s important that we be respectful of how we dispose of rubbish and food. The environment can also be put at risk with bad freedom camping practices so ensuring you leave the area as you found it is key.
Rubbish and waste
Scraps of food left behind could be consumed by any animal resulting in illness or worse, and as we know things like plastic can be detrimental to their environment too.
In case your chosen campsite doesn’t have bins, carry extra containers or bags with you in the motorhome so you can gather waste to dispose of at the next bins you see. Remember to bring something suitable for liquids as well, as you can’t tip waste into lakes or rivers.
Protecting the environment
Campfires can very quickly get out of control and destroy huge amounts of natural bush endangering animals and even nearby buildings. During certain times of the year there may be fire bans in place, and some areas may even have bans permanently so be sure to check before you light.
Another way you can protect the natural environment is to take nothing. Whether it be flora or fauna everything should be left just as you found so that everything can continue to flourish.
You should never feed wildlife, or disturb their living area. There are protected species all around Australia, so the best advice is just to give them their space, and admire from a distance.
How long can you freedom camp for?
Depending on which campervan you're travelling in, we generally recommend plugging in and powering up your camper every second night; but you can freedom camp for as long as your vehicle has power.
The more equipment you have, the quicker your batteries drain. A good tip is to keep the fridge filled, even by using recycled bottles filled with water, and turning the fridge to a lower setting. Parking the vehicle in the shade can also reduce power consumption.
We recommend plugging in and powering up your camper every second night at a minimum. Alternating your freedom camping spots with Holiday Park camping spots is the most effective way to camp.
What works in my campervan if it isn't plugged into a power point?
When the domestic or living area battery (separate to your vehicle battery) has a healthy charge you can run the fridge, house lights and the entertainment, along with the ignition for the water heater.
The microwave and the sockets for electrical equipment need 240V connectivity to operate.
Are there different free camping rules in each Australian state?
The simple answer to that question is yes! Each state has its own rules so the best thing to do before you take off on your adventure is to check out the rules on each state website:
Is free camping safe?
Free camping in Australia is a lot of fun, however, it does come with risks from sudden weather changes through to unexpected visits from wildlife!
The great thing about freedom camping in a motorhome is that you are self contained, which makes the experience a lot safer. Having your own toilet, shower and of course, a roof over your head minimises many unknowns.
There are still safety elements to consider even in a motorhome, such as choosing even, stable ground to park on and staying aware of your surroundings. The best way to ensure a safe trip is to research the freedom camping area before you arrive.
What to bring with you when free camping
Aside from bags and containers for rubbish, there are a few other things that are good to have with you when freedom camping, even if you are in a self-contained campervan!
- Maps. If you are heading to remote areas for freedom camping, you may not have service on your phone or internet access. Consider downloading maps in your that you can use offline.
- Plenty of water. Most freedom camping sites are very basic in their facilities so it’s a good idea to make sure you are well stocked with a water supply. With some parts of Australia being hot year-round, it’s not worth risking dehydration.
- Equipment for cleaning up. Before you leave campervan campgrounds, you should try to tidy up the site so it’s ready for the next visitors. It might be worth bringing along some gloves, a bucket and small hand shovel to clean up any messes or fill in any grooves made by your vehicle.
Respecting other free campers
Freedom camping is of course very popular, which means areas that allow it can be in high use especially over holiday periods.
Here are some ways to ensure you are being respectful to other freedom campers using the same space:
- Don’t overfill bins... If there are bins available but your rubbish is going to overfill them, it’s best just to take your rubbish with you. Rubbish or food left falling out of bins is not only unappealing to other campers, but it’s not ideal for keeping the environment clean.
- Be mindful of noise... Though you might love to play a few tunes in the evening, if you are sharing the space with other campers it might be best to keep the volume down so everyone can enjoy the peace of the outdoors.
- Respect the communal facilities... If you are lucky enough to come across a freedom camping site that has a picnic table or other facilities, remember to tidy up after yourself. Not only does it keep the area nice for everyone, but it helps the people who maintain the site as well.
- Park responsibly... So that everyone can enjoy the space, make sure you park in a spot that doesn’t obstruct other motorhome users. Make sure you aren’t blocking anyone in terms of access to entry or exits as well as facilities.
Is freedom camping free?
Depending on where you choose to free camp, the area may be free of charge to use. Free camping is a great way to save money on your travels, and get the true back to nature camping experience.
In some cases there can be a small fee to cover the running costs of the site, and occasionally you may come across donation boxes too.
There will often be signage up at the campsite to advise you what the rules are, but you should try to find out in advance so you don’t get caught out!
It's as simple as that, travellers! For a list of some incredible campgrounds, check out our favourite freedom camping locations! Wherever you travel, we guarantee there'll be a freedom campground that lets you bask in nature and wildlife.
Have a beautiful time out there, and don't forget to post some pictures for us – just tag #britzcampervans!