100 YEARS OF FREEDOM CAMPING EXPERIENCE
We’ve spoken to Australia’s most experienced free campers and compiled over a lifetime’s worth of camping knowledge!
WORDS BY JONATHAN PULLEN, PHOTOGRAPHY BY CARAVAN AND MOTORHOME ON TOUR
FREE CAMPING: TRUE AUSSIE TOURING
There is really no substitute for the experience of an Aussie free camping adventure! We’re privileged to live in a nation with such a diversity of awe-inspiring places to free camp, from tropical touring in Cape York to the outback trail down the Stuart Highway through central Australia. You can bet that there’s an ideal free camping experience to suit every traveller.
For those who yearn to experience quintessential Australia, free camping is arguably the only way to go about it, but what’s the best way to tailor your RV and supplies to accommodate free camping? With so many things to consider, it’s easy to let fears and doubts stop you from living the dream to the fullest. That’s why we’ve spoken to some of Australia’s most experienced free campers! They share lessons learned so you can hitch up and live the dream much sooner (and more safely) than you expected!
PLAN AND PREPARE
You’ve made up your mind and you’re going on your first free camping trip. You feel a rush of adrenaline, and you can’t wait to hit the road – great! Be excited, but remember it pays to stop, breathe, and make sure you plan and prepare properly. There’s nothing worse than arriving at your campsite only to find you are missing a vital piece of gear.
THE RIGHT RIG FOR THE RIGHT TRIP
With Fred Wright
Before you attempt free camping it’s important that your RV and tow vehicle are equipped for the journey ahead. Decide what free camping experience you’re after – will it be remote, bush, or beach? On-road or corrugated surfaces? Purchase your tow-vehicle and rig combo accordingly. Off-road and semi-off-road vans give you the capability to camp at those hard-to-reach places but they aren’t mandatory. I feel that as long as long as you have the three big considerations down pat, you’ll enjoy unbelievable free camping. Those three are: a tank or bucket to contain grey water, a reliable solar/power setup and an ample supply of fresh water!
DON’T HOLD BACK, FREE CAMP NOW
We very soon realised that free camping is simpler to do, and more secure, than many new campers think. When we started out we wondered just how safe it might be and how liveable an environment might be without the facilities of a caravan park. Once we jumped in, met people on the road that free-camped often, and learned about the special camaraderie and greater sense of self-reliance that comes with free camping, we were hooked.
5 ESSENTIAL ITEMS TO ENHANCE YOUR TRAVEL
As voted by you, these are your top 5 need-to-own freedom camping items!
• Quality solar panel and deep cycle battery arrangement
• Separate compressor fridge
• Camp Oven
• Quality camping chairs
• Portable toilet
THE FREE CAMPERS’ CODE
To ensure that we all continue to enjoy free camping in beautiful spots around Australia, everyone needs to be aware of basic campground etiquette. Probably the most important rule of thumb would be: ‘don’t encroach on someone else’s space!’ After all, the idea of free camping is to give yourself a bit of room to move. How often have you heard people say “We prefer free camping because we’re not crammed in like sardines!”? Yes, it can be reassuring to have others close by – but if you’re in a nice big open area, use it!
It’s also important to show consideration if you use a generator – don’t have it running outside someone else’s window, and don’t run it continuously. And do I need to say anything about leaving your site clean and disposing of your rubbish appropriately? Surely not!
FREE CAMPING COMFORTABLY, FOR LONGER
Consider these 10 tried and tested techniques to guarantee an enhanced free camping experience!
HELP KEEP CAMPS OPEN
Camp within the permissible time periods! Leave the campsite cleaner than you found it, spend money in town and let businesses know you’re free camping – these ensure the free camp will still be open when you return!
SAVE POWER WITH THE RIGHT INVERTERS
We converted our old 240v satellite receiver to 12v, so we are no longer using the inverter unnecessarily. Remember that anything that saves on power is a great benefit when free camping!
YOU NEED GOOD CAST-IRON
There really is no substitute for a good cast iron pot. It is so versatile that it can literally accommodate all of your outdoor cooking requirements!
OUTDOOR ESSENTIALS FOR UNDER $20
Camp oven hook – to remove hot lid and coals; welding gloves – for lots of outdoor purposes; fire flint – in lieu of matches; fly nets – perfect for awnings; citronella candles and sprays – to stop mozzies and pests!
CARRY AMPLE WATER
Nothing is more important than drinking water! Consider modifying your van to accommodate ample size tanks. We travel with two 90l tanks as well as a third 20l tank in the car.
Tarps offer so much – they provide shelter, attach to your awning for a private makeshift annexe, and protect items around camp from the elements during inclement weather.
DIESEL HEATING FROM THE GET-GO
This is going to save you a frosty first winter away! Opt for diesel heating straight away – while camping in the winter, air conditioners just don’t cut the mustard.
SELF-CONTAINED WITHOUT TANKS
We carry two 20ltr jerry cans for freedom campsites where you are required to be totally self-contained. We collect the grey water and dispose of it at dump points. By using the jerry can you are able to seal the container for no spills.
KEEP WEIGHT DOWN – THINK MULTI-PURPOSE
Improve fuel economy and handling by keeping your payload weight down. A smart way to do this is to pack multipurpose instruments and devices. If it doesn’t have more than one application, leave it behind!
STAYING COMFORTABLE AND SELF CONTAINED
We had free camping in mind when we purchased our current van so made sure it came standard with most things we would need, such as toilet and shower, big water capacity, massive storage areas, awning and water filter. Extras we added include: gas heating, extra fresh water tank, solar system, satellite TV, 2000w inverter, awning mat, and really comfy camp chairs.
Our van comes standard with 236l capacity in two grey water tanks, 144 litres in black water capacity, so these aren’t mods but are essential to be self-contained!
SUPPORT THE TOWNS THAT SUPPORT YOU
With Lyall and Trish Booth
Small towns offer travellers so much – Jericho, QLD, is a perfect example. A great little waterhole not far from the town provides an absolutely fantastic camp spot for travellers.
If everyone does the right thing and looks after this campsite and spends a few dollars in the town, future camping generations will continue to enjoy this spot! We hope this is the case, because we’ll stop there again and enjoy it all over again – it’s that good.