Over the last year, we’ve seen a lot of ups and downs in the free camping and caravanning world. We’ve watched regions in Victoria shut down free camps and all but drive vanners in the other direction, and we’ve applauded Port Hedland and other towns for recognising the value us free campers can bring to a region like that. We’re the first to support and also the first to complain when they are closed. Right now – perhaps it’s time for a reality check.

Too many times I’ve visited a free camp, only to find the area despoiled, with rubbish everywhere and – believe it or not – signs of chemical toilets being dumped in the area. It’s all too easy to blame backpackers, however I don’t believe they are the only ones at fault. RVers out there are doing the wrong thing. After all, those Wicked vans aren’t carrying black water on board.

It’s easy to yell that the councils are being evil when they shut down our beloved free camps, but when you take the above into consideration, it’s easy to appreciate that councils are simply trying to save rate payers. You cannot expect rate payers in regularly affected areas to continue paying for the cleaning up costs of local free camps – I mean, would you like to pay for someone else’s mess? That’s not raising money for the town, its costing money.

On the other hand, there’s a deeper issue that the councils can help with – and it might mean a bit of investment now to save big bucks in the future. I’m certain more dump points will stop people dumping black water and grey water.

All I can say is – if you’re dumping your rubbish or black water, you’re 100% part of the problem. You are contributing to free camp closures. You are damaging our image, and it’s time for you to stop. I reckon it’s about time we ‘dob in a dumper’ whenever we find them and help to clean up the ever increasing mess around Australia. Before free camps may become a thing of the past or fees for cleaning are imposed. Imagine if we had one national phone number we could ring to dob in someone doing the wrong thing at a free camp – with rego details?

Is this something you’ve noticed on your travels? Is the problem not enough dump points or is it just a minority ruining it for the rest of us? Email me at: [email protected] and tell me what you think we should do!