Free v fee camping: what you need to know

So you’ve made the big purchase and now planning some adventures, but you’re still not sure about the benefits of free camping versus paid campsites? Well, here’s what you need to know before heading off.

Australia is a big country with plenty to see and do. Whether travelling with a camper trailer, a caravan, in campervan or a motorhome, your wheels are your ticket to amazing places.

Camping for free is the best way to see a lot on a budget, but It’s important to remember you can’t just camp anywhere. In fact, you can even get fined for camping by the side of the road, at the beach, at rest stops and public carparks. Rules vary from state to state though so it’s best to look for signs indicating whether there are restrictions on overnight stops.

There are designated free camping spots around the country, but you need to know where to look. Many rural towns have areas available for free camping, but the best ones are off the beaten track. While some free camps are in more remote areas, you’ll often find other happy campers to have a chat with or share travel advice and stories. Other campers are a great source of inside knowledge when it comes to finding the best spots.

Whether you’re planning ahead or winging it, there are plenty of resources to help. Check out apps including CamperMate app, the Travellers Autobarn, Camping Australia, WikiCamps and national parks apps and websites.

The downside of free camping is that you get what you pay for – so that can often mean there are very basic or no amenities provided. If you have everything you need with you in your van or RV, that’s generally not a problem.

A good rule to camping in free parks (or any parks really) is a bit like the rule for using a toilet: leave no trace! That means you need to take ay rubbish with you and minimise any impact of your visit.

Camping in a paid campground or holiday park definitely has its advantages, including access to power and amenities. The downsides include cost (obviously…) and also most of the paid parks are in popular tourist areas, so they can get a little crowded during peak times.

Whichever way you go, there are some amazing campgrounds to choose from, free and paid, so do you your research but also expect the unexpected.