Legality of camping on road side

Submitted: Monday, Dec 29, 2008 at 06:28
ThreadID: 125280 Views:3548 Replies:4 FollowUps:2
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Another question from a newbie (at least in terms of caravanning):
What is the legal position of camping off to the side of a road.
I'm aware it's illegal in built up areas, but what about out bush, assuming its still within the "road reserve".
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Reply By: NIK `N` OFF - Monday, Dec 29, 2008 at 09:43

Monday, Dec 29, 2008 at 09:43
I work on the theory that we are not camping .......simply having a rest, maybe we have been lucky but we have never been asked to move on, but we don't abuse it and generally it is just an overnight stop.

Maybe Caravanning folk lore, but i have heard the story about bringing out an official looking A4 sheet of paper and asking the Ranger or inspector to please sign it and in doing so they take full responsibilty if you were to have an accident when you didn't feel it was in the best interests of the public for you to be doing so ........ can't imagine it ever being signed ...
AnswerID: 576609

Reply By: Motherhen & Rooster - Monday, Dec 29, 2008 at 09:47

Monday, Dec 29, 2008 at 09:47
Rick, I can't answer with what is legal, but i do maintain that stopping to rest in a self contained caravan (be it day or night) is not camping.

The only time we have ever been challenged, was when unbeknown to us the bit of unfenced and unsigned bush was a nature reserve. The ranger said camping was not permitted in a nature reserve and asked us were we staying long - no we had only stopped for the night after we found the nearby national park camping area full, and were almost ready to leave. He indicated to go where we couldn't be seen in future. There was evidence that the spot had been camped in before.

We have pulled of the road on bush tracks on many occasions - do no harm and leave virtually no trace. Old gravel pits are favourites - flat and clean. In WA they destroy access to old roads, but in SA we found plenty of these running roughly parallel to the road and accessible. Often screened by a few trees, we chose ones on minor roads where there is no traffic at night.

One night we stopped at a rural community sports ground - then remembered it was Friday night, when all the young men of this area get together. We thought if it got rowdy we would move on. The first to arrive offered us access to power, and others invited my husband to join them. They all seemed quite happy for us to stay at their well maintained sporting club. Halls in rural areas are another suitable community managed resource.

There are lots of opportunities out there and it is a wide open country. We usually find somewhere reasonable to stop, and would argue unsafe to travel due to tiredness if asked to move on. My husband does the driving, and after a few hours it is time to rest. If travelling really late (rare), we have pulled just of the road and endured the traffic.

I have put any really good spots we have found which i know are OK in the camp sites list, but many others where i don't know the legality or the ownership of the land, i don't list. Many of these places have the remnants of camp fires indicating we are not alone in choosing the spot to camp.

Enjoy the outback.



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AnswerID: 576610

Reply By: Grumblebum & Dragon - Tuesday, Dec 30, 2008 at 06:15

Tuesday, Dec 30, 2008 at 06:15
Never had a problem even in WA. old quarries - most are marked on Natmaps Premium Edition. Old access roads leading to old river crossings etc and just tracks off into the bush.

We never stay in Camps 3 or 4 type places - they tend to be "sh#t h@les" and prefer to find our own spots off the road and out of sight unless out in the boondocks.

No one is going to run you into court for stopping at a roadside. Vacant blocks in new housing estates might be an idea for overnighting in towns - how cheeky is that... We are just thinking about a purchase" mmmm.

A pile of empty beer cans outside the door may work combined with a slurred voice and a wife who cannot drive..!!......... but then I have never been challenged.

Just go and enjoy

AnswerID: 576611

Follow Up By: Motherhen & Rooster - Thursday, Jan 01, 2009 at 05:46

Thursday, Jan 01, 2009 at 05:46
Hi John

Likewise we prefer to find our own 'exclusive' spots, but found we can relax more, knowing that if we don't find something good that afternoon, we can always resort to Camps 3. It is also useful when travelling late - as once it gets dark you can't see the opportunities, so we just head for the next listed rest area.


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FollowupID: 850504

Reply By: Col & Diane - Tuesday, Dec 30, 2008 at 08:49

Tuesday, Dec 30, 2008 at 08:49
This is slightly off the topic but it is to do with roadside camping.

Have any others experienced any problems when free camping?

We recently camped about 20 Km east of Portland in Victoria, in a designated rest area. It was not far off the highway but behind some trees and not readily visible to passing traffic. Just after midnight a "hot" car pulled in to the area, and parked directly behind the BT, at right-angles to our van but only about 4 metres away. They immediately switched off their engine and lights and then just sat there. We were a little nervous. We had all our blinds up, so I turned off all our interior lights and switched on our rear light which is above the outside shower so that I could observe without been seen clearly. The driver didn't move when I switched on the light, but just looked straight ahead with both hands still on the steering wheel. There were at least three people in the car, but I could only see the driver clearly. We waited like this for several minutes but no one got out of the car. Although these people had not threatened us, apart from parking very close when there was plenty of space about to park elsewhere, we felt uncomfortable and decided it best to decamp. We always have the rig ready to move when we stop overnight like this, so I left Diane in the locked van and walked very briskly to the Landcruiser and drove off. No one got out of the car (thank goodness) and the car made no attempt to follow. I stopped a couple of Km down the highway and retrieved my wife from the van.

We have no idea what this was all about, and as I say we were not actively threatened. Maybe these people regularly go to this place to do drugs or whatever, maybe they were plucking up the courage to commit a robbery, maybe they get their kicks out of scaring grey nomads, or maybe there is another simple innocent explanation.

We are fairly new to this game and wonder what "experiences" others may have had, and what precautions they take.


Col and Diane
AnswerID: 576612

Follow Up By: Motherhen & Rooster - Thursday, Jan 01, 2009 at 06:21

Thursday, Jan 01, 2009 at 06:21
Hi Col and Diane

I hope you found a better spot for the night. I would not like to stay in the caravan, even in these circumstances, but we would have walked out together and both got in the vehicle. I think we would have moved on.

Although we have never experienced anything like your unnerving experience, we did once have someone come in and do 'doughnuts' through the camp site at 1 am. We were at Burra Creek Gorge - not near any towns. We were near the entrance end and a tenter was at the far end. A ute came in and spent quite some minutes doing doughnuts in clouds of dust between us and the tenter (who must have felt vulnerable).

When camping near the roadside, we try and face out - ready to move if need be (be it rain or disturbance). We would need to raise the jack which we lower when camping, and remove our slop bucket, and anything else that may be outside, such as the washing. Fortunately, except for the one incident, we have either had nice quiet nights, or good neighbours.



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