Do you think free camping is becoming a thing of the past?
Do you go camping often? If so do you opt for the Big 4’s and Top Tourist Parks or do you have your favorite spots that are free?
If you haven’t noticed, free camps in Australia are slowly disappearing around Australia, especially the magical spots on our coastline.
The death of free camping is coming.
Oh, sure you can get some nice spots out west that are free, but who really wants to camp in red dirt, no grass, probably near the highway with the threat of being hassled.
Years ago you could camp just about anywhere for free, but slowly these secret spots are disappearing.
Well they aren’t disappearing they are just ending up on the local councils no free camping lists, and we are being forced into the concentration camps of Big 4 and Top Tourist and other mainstream tourist parks.
These parks are, admittedly, great with waterslides, playgrounds, jumping castles and much much more.
They have become little townships, a lot of the big parks are out of town a few km’s so you have to buy everything from their shops and eat at their restaurants and their prices slowly creep up year after year.
For a family of 5 or 6, it is getting really expensive to camp these days.
A typical weekend for a normal Monday to Friday family……
A typical weekend getaway for most people who work 5 days a week is 2 days, Saturday and Sunday.
So to go camping in a caravan park you want a little bit of enjoyment, so most people will leave work in the afternoon, head to their destination and get there just before dark.
Then frantically set-up camp half in the dark, have some dinner a few beers and then try to relax after working for 4 hours straight then head to bed.
You get charged for this!
Finally Saturday morning you get to sleep in, maybe depending on the age of your children and then you get to enjoy your whole day, this is basically your last day for Sunday is checkout day!
Saturday night is maybe when you will have a bigger party night which is great, but then you need to get up at a half decent time to pack everything up so that you can check out at the crazy time of 10 am on a Sunday!
Now that is so not relaxing.
So let us say you have 2 adults, 3 kids and you’re really nice and honest, you probably would have paid $30-$40 a night just for the site.
Add a further $10-$15 per child if they were all over the ages of 2 depending on the park.
Taking the median prices we will add $35 + $12 + $12 + $12 = $71 dollars per night to set up your own tent or caravan on a patch of soil.
The first day is half a day 6 pm Friday to 10 am Saturday, then you get the full next day which is 10 am Saturday to 10 am Sunday, so technically you are being ripped off by $35 for Friday and $12 dollars per child for 2 days!
Sounds great, doesn’t it.
Total loss of $107 for the weekend! Or in a better perspective 2-3 cartons of beer.
Why not make check out at 12 pm at least, what is the urgency to get a tent or caravan off a site at 10, it is just plain dirt or concrete site, no cleaning required.
Why do kids cost so much at a tourist park?
We still don’t really get the whole charge for the kids over age 2 rule at most parks these days, I know my kids don’t cost 12-15 dollars a night each!
They barely have showers, barely clean their teeth, barely drink any water, you barely see them at all and you still have to pay a massive fee to have them there. It is robbery, but we all take it.
Who came up with this idea? Was it a grey nomads idea to keep kids away from family tourist parks? When doing a cost analysis on caravan parks where did they get the data on children from?
This is one of the main reasons we have slowly started moving away from paying for camping, it is just starting to cost so much to have fun as a family.
Is it really worth having your own caravan or camping trailer when you have to pay these massive camping fees to use a patch of dirt?
When you start to add the cost of purchasing the trailer, registration, insurance and park fees, it starts to look more attractive to just stay in cabins or at a resort.
Why can’t we have more designated free camps on the coast?
Australia is massive, and the amount of untouched coastline is unimaginable, so why not open some of this land up to campers who need camping to be cheaper.
Since when did camping become such a major expense to the average family, I feel Australia just keeps on robbing us blindly for everything so that we have to keep on working, paying taxes and not camping with our loved ones.
Free camping is the best, and camping is so Australian.
We should be changing our national flag to a picture of a camper parked on the edge of a white sandy beach, with a couple sitting in camping chairs watching the sunset.
Now, that’s a flag!
Free camping is the way to go!
How do you feel about the prices of caravan parks in your local area?
Do you think it is wrong to charge $10-$15 per child to camp?
It is so much better to arrive when you feel like it and leave when you feel like it, the way it should be! I thought Aussies were free people! Not when it comes to camping.
Tell us your favorite camping spots that are basically free?
Or if they are top secret don’t tell us because the camping ban man will be watching.
Make sure your community keeps your free camping sites in good condition so the authorities have no grounds to shut them down!
Sadly we do not have free camping here in Manitoba, Canada either, all the parks require a park pass and fee for a camping site. Most charge per unit, as in per camper or tent, not per person. As a kid myself and even when my own kids were young, you could show up at a park and get an overflow site with no electricity for only the park pass fee. A number of years ago all that changed, sites have to be booked by credit card via phone ahead of time. Gone are the days when you can just show up and get a site.
Exactly! It’s pretty sad isn’t it?! At our national parks you could at least rock up, be first in best dressed and get a site by placing an envelope full of money into a box. Now it’s the same thing, credit card bookings well in advance, and you can never even get a site!
We are lucky to still have a couple of spots around for now, that are both in a 2 hour radius of us here. I say ‘for now’!
Thanks for your comment!
Good blog from a families point of view. Wherever people trying to do their own free things local authorities and governments come up with ways to clamp down on such activities. Apparently for our own safety. As if we cannot decide for ourselves what is secure and what is not. Raises the question of who really owns the land/country? It is important to speak up and do something against this paternalism. When I was a teenager we camped everywhere we wanted. Nobody said anything as long as you did not litter the place (or stayed too long).
Wish you luck with your cause.
Thanks Martin. Unfortunately there are always going to be people who abuse their privilege at the detriment to the rest of us. One of our free local camping spots was closed to the public after some idiots tied up the farmer’s horses. Why would people be so stupid.
Thanks for reading, Kris
Andy Zeus Anderson
I’m not from Australia but I have Aussie friends and the wave of socialism creeping up on you is very expensive to maintain so sad to say your plight is not going to improve as long as the politicians keep heading in their current direction.
Here in the United States, we have too much open land to restrict all of it but if you want the best spots it does cost fees to be there despite being publically owned lands it isn’t free to the public and that’s sad. I am one who believes the more time people spend in nature the more willing they are to protect it. Restricting people on a financial basis is counterproductive to conservation yet that’s the reason they give for charging us these taxes.
Rest assure you and my Aussie friends are not alone in this issue. Free Camping is slowly dying but if we take a stand it doesn’t have to be that way.
Thanks Andy for the support! Hopefully we can keep it alive.
It’s disappointing to say the least. I have been on the road for 8 years and have watched many camps go from free.. to donation.. to cost/fees. It’s getting so bad I’m sometimes using roadside rest areas (not so nice) but I would never stay in a “corporate” van park. The charges are far too high.. for what amounts to a simple parking spot! I don’t need their playgrounds and fancy amenities! Camping is camping!! I want to be in nature, away from civilization. That’s the point isn’t it? I’m also disgusted with the bias shown over your choice of camper. I have a whizzbang and have not been able to use certain camps because of this.. which is crazy because I never leave a trace, ever, yet I have seen people with huge rigs with all the bells and whistles blatantly breaking the leave no trace rules. I blame the CMCA for a lot of the elitist “self-contained” camping attitude. And I AM self-contained despite not owning a $100k van. IMO if you’ve got ‘the lot’ (ie: big rig, solar, generator, TV, etc.) you’re not camping!! You are ‘housing’. If you’re doing what you do at home why not just stay home and leave the camping to those of us who are in it for the adventure. We aren’t complaining about a lack of TV reception.. Heck! I don’t even want or need a TV! Let them use the big parks! Leave the free camps for serious campers. Yes, we are losing free camps because of the greed and control factors. Do people not realise that a welcoming free camp will bring more money into local economies? Look at Babinda! They aren’t stupid. They get it. Personally, I use the free camps provided by small towns and in gratitude do the right thing, leave no trace and spend my money in the local shops. If I can’t camp for free I move on.. and those dying little towns will miss out. We need more free camps, not less.
I know how you feel! We mainly just go to National parks nowadays. We only have a tent now, but geez it is more fun than a caravan.
For me it can cost $80 dollars a night with no power, so expensive.
That is off peak!