Free camps v's caravan parks

Submitted: Monday, Feb 06, 2006 at 20:26
ThreadID: 30493 Views:3392 Replies:8 FollowUps:4
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Hi there. We are planning to travel with 2 young kids for 12months.Im wanting to know of anyones around Aus trip with young kids staying at free camps. What is safety like? And are there any recommendations or some to stay clear of?
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Reply By: Notso - Monday, Feb 06, 2006 at 20:32

Monday, Feb 06, 2006 at 20:32
We didn't do it with kids but we met a few who did.

I must say that most of the people we met with kids were staying in recognised parks or camp grounds.

Having said that we never had any problems at roadside stops or anywhere else for that matter.

I would say that common sense is the biggest thing to take with you. If you feel unsafe then you probably are. We used a technique of pulling up at a roadside stop fairly early and it was a bit like pigeons. You know, one lands then others follow. if no one ends up pulling in then you have some spare time to head off to the nearest roadhouse or van park for the night.
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Follow Up By: Footloose - Monday, Feb 06, 2006 at 21:17

Monday, Feb 06, 2006 at 21:17
These days I'd do the reverse :)) When the family travelled with me we always bush camped by finding a spot which couldnt be seen from the road. Never had any worries.
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Follow Up By: Pyalong - Monday, Feb 06, 2006 at 21:29

Monday, Feb 06, 2006 at 21:29
Ditto to footloose's remark....never had any probs
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Reply By: geocacher (djcache) - Monday, Feb 06, 2006 at 21:34

Monday, Feb 06, 2006 at 21:34

We did a trip in October with ours (2y/o & 5y/o girls) and did a mix of bush camping, National Park campgrounds & Caravan Parks.

Usually at Parks there was a higher chance of other kids being there. After a few days bush camped or at a Nat Park with only grey nomads (who were usually badgered into becoming surrogate grandparents for a day or so) our fairly social kids were usually craving the company of other kids their own age.

Talking to other parents in camp we found they often, like us, found relief from the kids refreshing where they were able to play with other kids.

At Mildura we met an Israeli couple with a 6y/o boy who were travelling around the country. Their son who spoke barely any english and our kids played together really well. Kids have unusual but simple ways of communicating that gets around language barriers that stump us adults.

We got along really well and invited them to accompany us to the Flinders Ranges, and we travelled and camped together for another week or so. We did things independantly of each other but spent time together when in camp.

I'd recommend a mix of camps. From time to time a playground or even another child will be a huge relief.

AnswerID: 153463

Reply By: Member - Andy Q (VIC) - Monday, Feb 06, 2006 at 21:45

Monday, Feb 06, 2006 at 21:45
G'day bumpkins, my wife and I travelled for 11 weeks, stopping mainly in free camping areas. There are free camping site books available from Newsagents and other book stores, these are available in many states too.
On our travels we spent many a day and night with others, many families. We never had any problems with any other travellers.
Just one point there are time limits in some of these areas, they usually have rubbish collection, toilets some even have showers( mostly cold).
Enjoy yourself, take your time
ps most of the areas are run by the local town, it's good to support it !
AnswerID: 153471

Reply By: Member - Trevor R (QLD) - Monday, Feb 06, 2006 at 22:13

Monday, Feb 06, 2006 at 22:13

Reccomendations, I have plenty as these bush camps are all that I stay in. Have been doing this for 7 - 8 yrs now without drama's in line with my work which keeps me on the road for up to 8mths of the year.
The biggest piece of advice I could offer (as there is too many good bush camps to state them all) is to talk to those at these bush camps, that have come in the direction you wish too travel in. They will have usually stayed in others camps back up the track and can be a wealth of knowledge (sometimes, not always).
Don't miss Calliope River and Rollingstone, when in QLD. Both offer good play areas for the kids, nice rivers for swimming and great camp areas.

Have fun and stay safe
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Reply By: Member - Royce- Monday, Feb 06, 2006 at 23:18

Monday, Feb 06, 2006 at 23:18
Toured Oz for three months in '94 with young kids. Little $$$ so we bush camped often. Alway felt safe... often safer in a bush camp... usually away from sight beside the Stuart hwy etc. Sometimes felt uncomfortable with some caravan parks neighbours. A variety is good.

Toured many times and with older kids just the same.

I spend lots of the year travelling and just pull over and set up wherever. No probs.
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Reply By: Member - Duncs - Monday, Feb 06, 2006 at 23:42

Monday, Feb 06, 2006 at 23:42
We have been traveeling with kids, off and on, since the second of the three was 5 mths old. He is now 13 yrs old.

We mix it up. The thing that often sends us to a Caravan Park is the need to do some washing and shopping, mans got to eat. So after a week or three in the bush we head into town find a nice CV park, preferably with a pool, use the laundry, do the shopping and head back to the bush. We tend to go up market in the CV parks as some of the cheap ones we have stayed in had less facilities than the bush camp and the price difference is often not that great.

Never felt unsafe when camped in the bush and we have been in some pretty lonely spots.

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Reply By: Member - Melissa - Tuesday, Feb 07, 2006 at 12:50

Tuesday, Feb 07, 2006 at 12:50
Hi Bumpkins,

We've travelled widely with our kids now nearly 2 & 5 years. Our preference is always to bush camp but not always possible or practical so we mix it up between bush, CVP's and NP's. Anymore than 2 nights a week in a CVP I consider too many but it does give us a chance to do some have nice long hot shower, washing, eat out, re-stock, do touristy things etc. Our kids play together quite well despite the age gap but it is always nice (and easier on us) when they find other playmates and obviously CVP's are the most obvious place although not the only place. Usually we travel alone but sometimes we hook up with other people with kids and that is great for the kids and we also enjoy some company around the campfire.

We have a few "rules" for bush camping...
1) Never camp too close to town on a Fri or Sat night
2) Never camp alone within view of the road unless we're outback.
3) The more remote, the happier we are to camp out.
4) If somewhere doesn't "feel right", move on.

There are some really good free camping books around. Here in WA we have found Jan Hollands book "Guide to Priceless Camping in WA" (?) to be the best and it can be purchased from this site. These are great for planning lunch/smoko stops as well as overnight stopovers. Also, talk to fellow travellers you meet along the way and most will give you the heads-up on where to camp and where not to camp and if you're lucky, you might even learn about a secret spot somewhere.

12 month trip eh? Half your luck!

:o) Melissa
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Follow Up By: Member - Melissa - Tuesday, Feb 07, 2006 at 12:59

Tuesday, Feb 07, 2006 at 12:59
Forgot to mention station stays which we have only recently got onto but have found excellent. Cheaper and not as formal as CVP's - in fact usually pretty casual with full run of shearers mess and opportunity to poke around the shearing shed etc. Sometimes goats, horses, cows etc for the kids to pet and we've generally found station folk to be very interesting characters. Also, as long as they don't think you're a d***head, you'll often get told about attractions on the station or in the local area that you can visit.

:o) Melissa
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Reply By: Member - Alan (WA) - Wednesday, Feb 08, 2006 at 02:11

Wednesday, Feb 08, 2006 at 02:11

We have never had any problems when camping.

So when you ask "What is safety like" - I am intrigued by the problems that others face and what to look out for.

Important for us as we will be 6 months on the road next year with 2 small kids (then 8 and 10).

Whilst a few posts have mentioned what they do, I would appreciate feedback on what coudl be experienced - as I clearly must live a sheltered life! :)


AnswerID: 153770

Follow Up By: Member - Melissa - Wednesday, Feb 08, 2006 at 17:04

Wednesday, Feb 08, 2006 at 17:04
Good point Alan. The worst that has ever happened to us was on a long weekend camping trip. We arrived around 4 pm and set up and spent a pleasant couple of hours until a group of young people turned up and set up nearby. At first they were okay but as the evening went on and more and more booze was drunk their volume increased at the same rate the general tone of their behaviour decreased. It went on and on for hours and from the loud comments they were making they obviously knew but didn't give a tinkers cuss about how they were effecting others. Eventually at 2am in the morning a fellow that was camping across the way a bit with his missus yelled out asking them to keep it down. The result was that he and his partner were subjected to personal taunts and intimidation such as the perpertrators standing over their little tent and threatening them. This went on until first light at which point the couple came out of their tent, opened the boot of their car and tossed everything in including the tent without packing any of it up and left. We were only half a hour behind them. In town we stopped at the cop shop which was shut so I left a note explaining what had occurred with rego number but whether or not the group were subsequently moved on I'll never know.

Another incident occured one Saturday night when we were sharing a campground with another family. We mistakenly thought these neighbours would be half civil given that they had young kids but once again, when the booze started flowing so did the foul language, loud music etc. When someone who was obviously confident enough to speak up given that they were part of a large group, asked them to tone it down a verbal argument ensued and continued for many hours. There were lots of threats and intimidation exchanged and frankly it was very unnerving. I should say that I have also seen a similar thing happen in a CVP and even though the manager and police got involved they were powerless to move the perpetrator on because he was drunk.

Each of these incidents have occured in campgrounds within easy reach of a town on a Friday or Saturday night when it seems that some of the locals come out for a drinking session. Hence our rule about not camping too close to town on a Fri or Sat night.

Only other tme we ever felt uncomfortable was camped alone at Lake Ballard north of Menzies. We had a pleasant camp until a car came in at 1.30am and stopped just over the rise. We were decidedly uncomfortable with that although it turns out the next day they were just campers like ourselves and they hadn't even realised we were there until daylight. Nevertheless, we did feel a bit vulnerable. The good thing is that we have have countless pleasant camping experiences so we continue to do what we do and just hope for the best.

:o) Melissa
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