The end of free camping in WA?

Submitted: Sunday, Jan 08, 2006 at 10:46
ThreadID: 29459 Views:4016 Replies:13 FollowUps:9
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This was printed in Saturday's "West Australian".........They're gonna get tough....if they can find ya ;)

Members of the Australian Campers Alliance have expressed concern about the future of free-camping, particularly the winter tradition of retirees setting up vans on isolated beaches up north.
A letter from the 300-member group's secretary Ann Perry states that the Review of the Caravan Parks and Camping Grounds Act 1995 by,-the Department of Local Government and Regional Development could mean the end of all camping - except in caravan parks - in this State.
"While regulations (from the Act) are only policed infrequently, at present, they signal the end of a lifestyle almost unique to Australia," Ann says.
"Australians feel they have the right to travel and camp in out-of the-way places but, officially, most camping - except in caravan parks - is illegal and will be more so if the recommendations in this review are followed.
"There would be a negative effect on subsidiary businesses, for example sellers of solar panels, gas appliances and four-wheel-drives, and the economy of regional towns would be seriously affected as many of them depend on a seasonal influx of visitors.

"Many of the long-stay, traditional campers are elderly pensioners who travel north for the winter. They cannot afford to stay at caravan parks charging anything from $25 a night, so they would not be able to go away and everyone loses.
"The present Act and the new review are designed to aid the owners of existing caravan parks."
In defence of tourist park operators, Caravan Industry Australia WA executive officer Pat Strahan raised two points about the group's concerns.
"First, our industry does not make the rules about caravan parks and camping grounds, the State Government does," she said.
"We have two representatives on a 12-person Department of Local Government committee and while that ensures our voice is heard, it certainly does not have a major influence on the review.
"Also, with people often outlaying in excess of $1 million to purchase a caravan park, they deserve a decent return on their investment.
"It's tough enough being hit with increased land taxes, higher water and sewage rates plus other fees without being used as a drop-in point for the occasional guest.
"Often free-campers will only stay one night, just long enough to dump their sewage, do their washing and top up their water tanks - all for about $20 for a caravan site.
Members of the Australian Campers Alliance have expressed concern about the future of free-camping, particularly the winter tradition of retirees setting up vans on isolated beaches up north.
A letter from the 300-member group's secretary Ann Perry states that the Review of the Caravan Parks and Camping Grounds Act 1995 by,-the Department of Local
"The fact is that caravan park operators, especially isolated areas, are finding it difficult to survive."
Submissions to the review have closed and following feedback in response to the release of the Discussion Paper, a review report will be prepared which may include recommendations for legislative change.
Draft legislation will be circulated to key stakeholders for comment before enactment.

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Reply By: Member - Alan H (QLD) - Sunday, Jan 08, 2006 at 11:48

Sunday, Jan 08, 2006 at 11:48
Free camping should be left alone!!!

The so called capalist market forces should mean that if caravan parks want business they need to give extra value for money and be attractive enough that the traveller wants to use them.

Some towns give a couple of nights free in the caravan park to attract travellers to stop in their town. (this is the right direction)

National parks are usually poor value for money and we should not be charged to access public land at any price.

Enjoyment of the Australian landscape should not just be a privilege of the rich but right for all taxpayers. It's about time we changed governments to ones who care about citizens instead of corporations and political sponsors.

It is up to the retirees (supposedly now large numbers of baby boomers) to pressure governments at all levels to ensure these long term taxpayers can enjoy the country without dollars entering into every decision all the time.
AnswerID: 147134

Follow Up By: tessa_51 - Sunday, Jan 08, 2006 at 14:44

Sunday, Jan 08, 2006 at 14:44
Boy did that press your button. I'm surprised you were able to see this far down from the top of your high horse. Is there anything about camping that you enjoy or do you just do it to give you something else to complain about.
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Reply By: Exploder - Sunday, Jan 08, 2006 at 12:23

Sunday, Jan 08, 2006 at 12:23
Is this a issue about setting up on remote beachers or anywhere on crown/Public land, the beach issue has been going on for a while now and is being pushed by the environmentalists manly.
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Reply By: The Rambler( W.A.) - Sunday, Jan 08, 2006 at 13:11

Sunday, Jan 08, 2006 at 13:11
Having travelled the entire W.A. for many years,Iwould like to point out a simple fact to Pat Strahan (Caravan Industry Australia) and that is that virtually every caravan park along the coast is fully booked in the winter months and by camping in the so called remote spots does not matter one bit to the revenue of these parks.IN feact the park owners are taking advantage of this situation by charging additional exorbitant fees for this busy season.Just try to rock up to a c. park in Broome in the months of June-Sept. and see how you go without a booking.In my opinion the problem is quite the reverse with not enough bush camping for the ever increasing numbers heading north in winter.I can tell you that there will be one person that will be bush camping for as long as 4 w.d.'s exist.
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Follow Up By: Muzzgit (WA) - Sunday, Jan 08, 2006 at 20:21

Sunday, Jan 08, 2006 at 20:21
While I agree with you about being able to camp in the bush, and I will be another who will continue to do it, this issue was not raised by the caravan park owners, but our own state government.

Expressions of interest were asked from anyone involved on the local government website and a reference to it was published twice (not by me) on this forum. The government is responding to complaints from land owners and the general public about rubish, vandalism, polution, and those who prefere to "dig the place up".

Thats not saying you are one of those people, but lets face it, there are a lot of morons out there spoiling things for the rest of us. BUT.....having said that, I recon it will be impossible to police, and will be a very unfavorable piece of legeslation should it be bought in.


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Reply By: Willem - Sunday, Jan 08, 2006 at 14:13

Sunday, Jan 08, 2006 at 14:13
Every few years this issue comes up in WA

Some time ago the WA Gov legislated that you were not allowed to camp within 100km? from a caravan park on the side of the road.

The Recreational Vehicle Assosciation then told the WA Gov that it will advise all of its 25,000 members not to travel to WA....needless to say the legislation was dropped. Queensland and the NT also go down this path every now and then. The NT has bulldozed some popular camping areas on the side of highways. This might deter some campers but there are lots of places to find a camp in the outback and the policy has largely backfired.

Like with all businesses if you go into a caravan park then you have to cost it out. A million dollar caravan park will probably give a good rteturn over a period of time. Managers of these places have to look after their customers because if they don't, the customers go elsewhere. One cannot legislate so that a business is secured in its operation and profitability.

Like most things to do with freedom of passage, it will be very hard to legislate that free camping is not allowed. If your state wants the tourist dollar it must do everything in its power to see that that dollar comes in. Banning free camping will hurt the WA economy tremendously.

Of course this is only an article by a journalist and not much credence can be put in it as the truth is seldom revealed. I doubt if it will happen.

If by misfortune such a law is introduced it still will not deter me from camping in the bush or on the beaches.
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Reply By: Member - Pesty (SA) - Sunday, Jan 08, 2006 at 15:42

Sunday, Jan 08, 2006 at 15:42
They tried this crap in Qld and when the travellers came to caravan parks the industry suddenly found they couldnt handle the numbers and so many got turned away.
If you payed 1 million for a caravan park dont blame the travelling public if it doesnt turn out, and the article hit the nail on the head , as many travellers cant afford $30 a night just for a shower !!!
They are yet to legislate that you have to move on when you are too tired and have a migrane headache, there are signs on all major roads about resting if tired, and nobody will make you move and then take responcability for any thing that may happen !!
All good for the caravan park industry to bang there drum, to try blackmailing people into there parks, but who is going to police it? them?

Cheers Pesty
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Reply By: V8Diesel - Sunday, Jan 08, 2006 at 17:00

Sunday, Jan 08, 2006 at 17:00
Ignore it.

F@#king Nazi's.

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Reply By: kesh - Sunday, Jan 08, 2006 at 18:01

Sunday, Jan 08, 2006 at 18:01
OK Bilbo, You are in WA, have your L/Cruiser, bought the Supreme Getaway, going to spend retirement camped in the WA Goldfields looking to stub your toe on that big one so tell, please tell, what are you going to do when the "ranger" turns up, especially if you just happen to be on a patch?
It makes one wonder who's bleeding country this is.
AnswerID: 147218

Follow Up By: V8Diesel - Sunday, Jan 08, 2006 at 21:12

Sunday, Jan 08, 2006 at 21:12
Duty of care overrules enforcement of laws such as this. You cannot be forced to drive a vehicle if it is unsafe to do so.

My solution, be over .05 the whole time;-)
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Follow Up By: Bilbo - Sunday, Jan 08, 2006 at 22:21

Sunday, Jan 08, 2006 at 22:21
Sheesh!! Kesh,

You either know me personally or you have a good memory!

Your question? I'm not really sure what the answer is. Perhaps "V8Diesel's" idea is a sound solution!

In practical terms these days, the areas of possible new patches are a LONG way from towns, nosy buggers and the "The Thought Police". So even if the new regs are passed, I don't think I'm gonna have a big problem. I'm sure the police in Laverton, Wiluna and Meeka have got better things to do than traipse 200 kms into the bush to charge a guy with illegal camping.

Plus the prospecting associations here in WA have started talks with government bodies - or so I'm told. I think the main thrust of this lot is aimed at the "Grey Armies" that settle at places like Cleaverville, just up the coast from Karratha. It's 30 kms from Karratha and about 15 kms from Point Sampson. Hardly a long way from civilistion or a van park. It's ludricrous to expect a prospector ( or anyon else for thae matter) to travel 150kms each way down bush tracks and cross country every day.

Mind you getting into a van park in KTA or Point Sampson in winter is nigh on impossible. Plus, I travel with a dog and most van parks won't take dogs - so where AM I supposed to camp?

We'll see, I suppose.

FollowupID: 400618

Follow Up By: kesh - Monday, Jan 09, 2006 at 09:36

Monday, Jan 09, 2006 at 09:36
Sorry Bilbo, but yes, I do have a good memory although you seem to me the sort of bloke I wouldnt mind meeting.
This free versus otherwise (ie, not allowed) sort of bush camping has and is a long term bone of contention with me. Here in the east (nsw), nearly all the State forests are gone, have now become NP.
Where previously one had welcome access to fish, prospect, 4wd and camp, regular fire control measures implemented and trails maintained it is all locked off, feral weeds and animals rampant and all for what bl00dy purpose? And where do most bushfires originate? And how long does it take an adjoining landholder to receive compensation for damage caused by NP? Bah Humbug.
But things just dont end there. We operate an opal mine in w.qld. where gov. regulations are becoming near impossible to comply with. Whereby once the local mining registrar kept an eye on things and sorted out whatever problems we are now confronted with a horde of city based bureaucrats each pushing their own agenda. More Bah Humbug.
So the folk looking to free camp or whatever have my full support, we very seldom use CP's, they are usually too much a rip off. I must commend however, the towns which provide free camping with amenities (generally the showground) those places always get our support by way of shopping and keeping the 05 levels maintained!
First the uprising, rip the gates off the NP's and remember John Williamsons ........... "have a right to light a campfire on the road."

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Reply By: GOB & denny vic member - Sunday, Jan 08, 2006 at 19:30

Sunday, Jan 08, 2006 at 19:30
goodday folks
we try to split our time but are quite happy when we reach our destination to prop in a park but we are find 1 group of parks less friendly to caravanners and campers by pushing them to the rough parts of the park and installing these great bloody 4 bedroom huts .we have decided that we will not be renewing our membership with them after the last trip.
we only found1 of these places that seemed to give value for money the rest have got a lot dearer than last trip and lees area to set up in sites getting smaller inj the newer parks etc
most of our freecamp is done while travelling to ourdestination and if i am tired i pull up for a snooze
what was recommende last time this b/s came up was tell them you are to tired to move on and if "persons" insist you move get there name and position so that if you have abingle etc you can take them on

AnswerID: 147224

Reply By: Pterosaur - Sunday, Jan 08, 2006 at 20:05

Sunday, Jan 08, 2006 at 20:05
It's NOT the doing of the environment lobby, or of the rangers, that this issue keeps rearing its ugly head.

At the heart of the issue is the ongoing effort by the Caravan Park Owner's Association(s), in each State to get their business interests guaranteed by the government. They seem to think that any camping outside of their (often) overpriced parks is an offence, and represents a loss of revenue to them, and this issue makes it into the "news", and to the politicians as a result of their determined lobbying.

Notwithstanding their efforts, the most basic market research inevitably leads to the conclusion that most who use free, or basic sites DO NOT and WILL NOT camp in what are "translated suburbs" at worst. They just go elsewhere, as they are seeking entirely different "recreational experiences" (jargon) from those who only use caravan parks.

In a past life I was a ranger, and every year I had to deal with the same repetetive arguments, from the CPOA, who were trying to close down a number of the sites I managed, whether they were free or not, and were exerting pressure on the pollies and senior bureaucrats to "do something about this problem", and every year, I succeeded, using the same arguments as above - with more words, of course, as is the way with all bureaucracies.

Occasionally, they do manage to get their way for a short time in different states (or municipalities), but the negative effects of such closures nearly always result in a prompt reversal by the managing authorities, whoever they might be.

The first important thing I am getting to, is that no one who enjoys free camping (whether you have to pay a nominal fee or not), can afford to ignore these efforts, because the members of the CPOA seem impervious to reason in this matter, and ignore anything that doesn't fit in with their collective view that we (campers) OWE THEM A LIVING !

The second, is to make sure you direct your anger at those responsible, not the people charged with enforcing such drivel.

BTW, I know that there are many campers, who like such parks, and park owners who don't think that way, but their "representative" organisation does.

Off the soapbox for now.

BTW, (for the Moderators) if this reply gets "double posted", it's a result of the forum software - gives a false "not logged on message" when I try to post,
AnswerID: 147229

Follow Up By: Bilbo - Sunday, Jan 08, 2006 at 22:36

Sunday, Jan 08, 2006 at 22:36
Pterosaur, I think you've hit the nail on the head with - "because the members of the CPOA seem impervious to reason in this matter, and ignore anything that doesn't fit in with their collective view that we (campers) OWE THEM A LIVING !"

If any private enterprise takes on a private capital venture and it goes belly up why should the rules be changed to protect 'em? Yes, I know it happens - but that dosen't make it right. e.g, If I buy a lawn mowing round and we have a drought and my lawnmowing round goes to the wall, why should the law be changed to suit me and other lawnmowing contractprs? As a prospector, if I buy 2 metal detectors at $5,500.00 each and suddenly there's no gold left, whose fault is that? Will the goverment bale me ou? Not likely.

This is a greed thing. There aren't enough van parks as it is, and they're closing 'em down over in the East, and now they wanna put MORE people in less space!!

I wonder how they're gonna stop my blackfella mates from "going bush"??


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Reply By: Member- Rox (WA) - Sunday, Jan 08, 2006 at 22:39

Sunday, Jan 08, 2006 at 22:39
We read an article in a motor home mag about this & in summary it said 16km in WA (different in each state) form a commercial site that provides accommodation you are legally required to use this service. if they used this same logic it would be illegal to cook a home cook meal if you were within 16 km from a commercial site that provided cooked food. Can you see that this logic doesnt work?

they talk about free trade with the USA for food so there farmers don't get an unfair advantage & other countries can try their luck supplying the market but with Accommodation in this article the are trying to close up the market to give Caravan parks a unfair advantage.

I prefer to bush camp & use paid caravan park when it suits me.
AnswerID: 147287

Follow Up By: V8Diesel - Monday, Jan 09, 2006 at 00:44

Monday, Jan 09, 2006 at 00:44
The '10 mile' rule has been in place for ever in WA. I think it was originally put in place to stop old dero's setting up camps and the associated shanty towns springing up. It was a variation on the 'loitering' theme.

You can also legally take a slash in public as long it is against the LHS rear wheel I've been told. This was a remnant law left over from the horse and cart days.
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Reply By: Truckster (Vic) - Sunday, Jan 08, 2006 at 22:40

Sunday, Jan 08, 2006 at 22:40
thank god WA is too far to worry about LOL
AnswerID: 147288

Follow Up By: Member- Rox (WA) - Monday, Jan 09, 2006 at 01:01

Monday, Jan 09, 2006 at 01:01
Truckster, I bet the early settlers used to free/bush campo were you live now but i guess you carn't do that now.

Distance is a matter of time & money to enjioy it.( I know your only having a dig)
FollowupID: 400651

Reply By: bombsquad - Monday, Jan 09, 2006 at 01:22

Monday, Jan 09, 2006 at 01:22
I think most bases have been covered here. I think a few have mentiond, and I have investigated in the past and found that you have the right to camp on the roadside for a period of up to 24 hours anywhere in the country on the grounds of fatigue. I also discovered you werent allowed to erect any structures, so the bloke with a tent is out but a 40 ft van is ok????

I wonder what the gov. considers an erection!!! is it the insertion of a peg in the ground, or the fitting of guy ropes???

I think you could be very anal and stay your 24 hours, drive a metre or so, fall asleep ath the wheel and stay another 24 hours! The .05 theory will also work well.

Happy camping, Andrew

PS - I have found over the years you can get a cheap motel with ensuite as cheap as a powered site, and use this every few days or so to recharge and clean the rig out etc.
AnswerID: 147313

Follow Up By: V8Diesel - Monday, Jan 09, 2006 at 10:03

Monday, Jan 09, 2006 at 10:03
bombsquad, you raise some good points. I have a mate who has made it his focus in recent times to 'out beauracrat' the beauracrats and let me tell you, he gets away with some outrageous stuff. He got harrassed once too often by an over zealous ranger and since then has made it his mission to make their life as difficult as possible when dealing with him. Petty and spiteful? Yes, but you don't just have to roll over and take it either. He can quote the applicable acts and carries a copy with him. The enforcers are bound by the law too remember. Passive resistance - beautiful stuff when well executed.

Learn the act to the letter, and if it is ever actually enforced, start getting petty back. Claim to be over the safe driving limit or do as you suggest and drive out on to the road for 100m, do a u-turn and head straight back in.

I have utter contempt for this over regulated nanny state mentality. My advice is to beat them at their own game. Remember, if you comply with the legislation, there is nothing the nazi's can do.
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Reply By: Member - t0me (WA) - Monday, Jan 09, 2006 at 01:43

Monday, Jan 09, 2006 at 01:43
Quotes from the document they issued for discussion prior to the review of the current legislation.

"Regulation 10 provides that a person may only camp at a site in a licensed
caravan park or camping ground or in accordance with Regulation 11.
Regulation 11 states that a person may camp on land other than a caravan park
or camping ground for up to three nights (in any period of 28 consecutive days)
if the person has obtained the prior permission of the owner or occupier of the
For periods longer than three nights, permission must be obtained from the local

Regulation 11 enables people to stay in caravans or other vehicles on a road
reserve for up to 24 hours in an emergency situation. People may also camp for
up to 24 hours in a caravan or other vehicle in a designated roadside rest area.
The Regulations also enable a person to camp on unallocated Crown land or
unmanaged reserves, in accordance with the permission of the Minister
responsible for the Land Administration Act 1997.

Section 267 of the Land Administration Act 1997 makes it an offence to camp on
Crown land without the permission of the Minister for Planning and

Government agencies are generally reluctant to grant permission for camping on
Crown land due to concerns about people’s health and safety as well as
environmental, liability and risk management issues. To address these concerns,
minimum standards would need to be specified. The costs of maintaining the
standards and managing these activities could be substantial.

It should be noted that while there may be a desire among some people to
camp on unallocated Crown land or unmanaged reserves, this could have
negative repercussions on caravan parks and camping grounds which are
established specifically for this purpose and which will, potentially, lose customers.
erm. And? As previously stated so eloquently, we don't owe them a living. If it wasn't more expensive to stay in some caravan parks than it is to rent a house I'd be more inclined to do so more often. Also if the would let me bring my dog even if its Christmas that would be nice too.

How are they going to achieve their goal (4b) to promote and improve caravanning and camping. If they take it out of the reach of more people.

Col if you're reading this thread you must be sighing deeply
(PostID: 28002)

The review document I quoted from:
AnswerID: 147315

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