In response to a request from GoSee Editor Garth Morrison Gil and Lyn Larsson share their considerable caravan camping experience with GoSeers. They tell how they handle black and grey water disposal, power to run the things they need and some of their favorite free camps. To help travellers they discuss what they look for in their choice of free camp sites.
Well as I got the ball rolling I guess I will give it a bit more of a kick.
Free Camping spots, what we look for:
Site. Closer to town the better except on a Friday or Saturday. We look for a level spot off the road. If it has a toilet and water all the better. We use creek or dam water to shower if available. That way our on board triple-filtered water lasts a long time.
Black water: We have our own toilet which we empty into dump points. (Never besides the road) We have on 2 occasions had to dig a large hole to bury. We use a natural non-chemical toilet mix as the chemical ones are not good for the environment.
I would be interested in knowing the percentage of caravans with on board facilities. All the bigger ones do and we see a heck of a lot of porta potties at times. Editors Note: GoSee has been unable to get industry statistics on this point.
Rise and shine Ironbark Rest Area Hume Hwy
We invariably find that in areas where backpackers are in droves, (Top end, Ayres Rock, North Queensland etc. Lots of wizz bangs) and where the locals have fun (along the Murray etc) and there are no toilets any old bush will do and do it on the ground and leave the paper blowing in the wind.
Editors Note: In some parts of Western Australia this is now referred to as the Brown Ribbon. The unpleasant results were noted on the recent GoSee adventure in Western Australia.
Grey Water: As a rule onto the ground, as per a lot of caravan parks we strike along the way.
Power: We have 120w solar panel on top of the van and a 35w floater which we chase the sun with. We carry a 1kva Honda Gennie which we need to use for TV BUT if we do not watch anything, as is the case most of the time; the panels supply enough power to provide for lights for a week of cloud.
We use the gas for the fridge, campfire to heat hot water and cook or caravan gas if fire bans are in place. We have a Cobb for extra cooking as well as camp ovens etc.
Favourite Free Spots: Hard to pin down as there are a heap. North Queensland beach sites are good, Bay of Fires in Tassie great, some desert spots in the centre are not bad either. The West Coast of Tasmania has some good roadside spots as well as in the South West in National Parks. In the West (Western Australia) and Tassie a Parks Pass is the way to go.
What I did not say in the first email was that we also spend a bit of time in National Parks. About 10% I would guess
Easter moonrise over EPIC Exhibition Park in Canberra camping National Folk Festival 2009
One of the arguments against free camping is that a mess is left for Council and Main Roads to clean up.
This is a problem caused in the main by locals who think these spots belong to them and do what they want, backpackers who will not carry rubbish with them, the odd nomad.
If you go to any river or dam spot after a long weekend or Easter etc you will see the results. Council and National parks think by not having dumpster bins everyone will take their rubbish with them. 80% will 20% say stuff them and leave it. This is in town parks and gardens, BBQ areas, Beaches etc.
We and a lot of other nomads collect rubbish and it goes into bins when we find them. This applies to National Parks as well as free spots.
I have been talking to a lot of travellers in the last 2 years or so and have come up with my own informal survey results on camping habits.
Approx 45% always stay in caravan parks.
Approx 10% never stay in caravan parks.
Approx 25% stay in caravan parks for long periods and free camp when on the move.
The other 20% will spend between 5 and 6 days free camped and then 1 or 2 days in a caravan park. This is usually on a Friday and Saturday night as this is hoon time. They recharge the batteries, fill the water tanks, do the washing, go out for a meal, shop etc. While we would not stop free camping if caravan parks were in the price range we would use, we would use them a heck of a lot more if they were.
Handy basic amenities Ironbark Rest Area Hume Hwy
What we would like to see:
More free spots, with better toilets. We found in Tassie a small town that had a 4 day max stay free camp.
The local clothing/camping sell anything shop has gone from two travellers spending money in the shop a year to two a day.The Pub, bakery, paper shop and butcher etc all make a decent living now and the town as a whole benefits.
Wineries etc if they were smart would have a few camp sites for self-contained units, buy some wine, drink a little and do not drive - stay overnight .
We have found Coast Guards with camping for a small fee, football clubs, racetracks and showgrounds. We stay in them.
Part of the point is that we are on small incomes and are not bludgers, we do not mind paying a little to get what we want and need, we do object to the rip off and do not and will not have much to do with it.
Well there is a bit of my point of view
Gil Lyn Larsson