The No Frills Camping Experience
Plenty of space but no frills and no expense.
During the past three months we have either stayed with friends as in Tullamore or Camooweal or in Caravan Parks across the nation. The alternative is called “Free camping”. Really brave people like the young Swiss couple we shared a dinner table with in Winton Queensland just drive of the road somewhere very quiet and camp. They dig a hole for a toilet then move on, totally self-sufficient.
The only water in the Yannarie River was this small hole near the bridge.
Most people use the roadside stops provided along the highway. Usually they have a toilet (often a “long drop” but now often the “eco toilets”), sometimes a picnic table and a spots for a campfire. You need to provide your own water and source of power. Some vans carry their own generators – best to camp well away from them because of the noise.
The very large free camp near the Yannarie River – no water in the camp and only sand in the river
People are generally very friendly in my experience. In the North and West, travellers are often just stopping for a rest and are up and gone early in the morning.
The camping ground is in the middle of a working cattle station.
These calves and their mothers came walking through the caravans at dawn, heading for the small water hole in the river bed
In some places however, pensioner travellers will find a free camp and stay while their money builds up to allow them to pay for fuel to move on. In some states like WA, you are only allowed to camp for 24 hours but there doesn’t seem to be anyone policing this rule.
This little calf looked to be new-born and was careful about moving too far from his mum
The only problems I saw with staying in free camps was the poor rubbish collection – it was all nicely stacked by the campers but had been left long enough to be very smelly while bad weather can mean that they get muddy.
Free camps are often like this one and right alongside the road, to be woken by a road train at dawn
The other problem with the really good free camps is that hey are so popular that you have to get in early before they fill up.
Known as “Pilbarra Seagulls” these white cockatoos also greet the dawn in large noisy flocks.
The red dust means their usual white plumage is crimson instead