Free campsites

Submitted: Friday, May 30, 2003 at 11:19
ThreadID: 5188 Views:26433 Replies:12 FollowUps:5
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has anyone else having trouble locating free campsites travelling up the east coast to cairns.Since leaving melbourne 3 months ago the info in the camping books and the Qld main roads regarding free camp sites is wrong.We get the feeling that we are being pushed into caravan parks when we dont want to or have to.Does anyone else have any thoughts on this.We just love a free country!!!!!!!
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Reply By: Jeff (Beddo) - Friday, May 30, 2003 at 11:28

Friday, May 30, 2003 at 11:28
Try State Forests - they are free, well in NSW anyway. National Parks everywhere have gone to user pays but some are free (not many though) - State Forests get their funds from timber and have good camp grounds to portray a good image - I must admit the State Forests camp grounds are pretty good.Cheers, Beddo
Surf KZN185
<- Yengo NP, Central Coast NSW
AnswerID: 21448

Follow Up By: Member - Nigel - Saturday, May 31, 2003 at 08:58

Saturday, May 31, 2003 at 08:58
Queensland state forests charge the same as national parks - last time we stayed it was $3.50 per person per night - that was a while ago.
FollowupID: 14029

Reply By: Shirly Brown - Friday, May 30, 2003 at 12:04

Friday, May 30, 2003 at 12:04
Danny we seldom have trouble finding a free campsite.
Generally we head off into the rural area and usually find a wonderful
We are self contained and need no facilities.
We do not unpack to make it look like we are stopping and have goodies all
around the place like some people do.
Many times we have stopped in the the same place for a couple of days, and
also gone back to the same places two, three and four times.

If we have seen a good place on a farm away from the farm house we go and
ask the farmer if we can stay there. Never found a farmer that has said no
or been anything other than helpful. We could not afford to travel if we had
to stay in caravan parks. Caravan parks are priced out of our financial
level. If we had to stay in a caravan park at night it would cost us
approximately $160. We use the money we would spend in a caravan park to see
things and attractions. We never mind paying something if it is reasonably
priced. 4 weeks ago we stayed at Bemboka at the local recreation ground for
$5 a night. They use the money to improve the facilities at the grounds.
That night we walked up to the local pub for a great meal. If we had paid
$24 in a caravan park we could not afford to go and spend money in town. We
try and support small towns and like visiting small towns as there is always
somewhere to stay. We try to buy our bread and daily needs in small towns to
help support the local shop.
Forest parks or forests are also a great place to go and there is usually no
shortage of those. Hubby seems to smell the direction of the trees.

Not infrequently we stay in the middle of suburbia. We find a suitable place
in a not busy street in the suburbs with larger house blocks. Hubby has
some small plywood boards he puts under the van wheels to level the caravan
as the gutter normally leans in and we stop there the night. With our
caravan being a solid top we think people in the street either take no
notice or think we are just visiting somebody in the street. Only thing we
did do was put Velcro tabs on the curtains at the top to prevent light going
out so it does not look obvious. The caravan curtains are lined with Bruk so
that does not let light through.
AnswerID: 21453

Reply By: The Moose - Friday, May 30, 2003 at 13:24

Friday, May 30, 2003 at 13:24
You will find that Main Roads roadside stops are available for free overnight camping. But you can't stay there long-term. Also they are quite popular with the caravan brigade and tend to be rather full by late afternoon so you may need to stop a bit earlier in the day. You can check out the details on the MR Internet site at
AnswerID: 21454

Reply By: Andrew - Friday, May 30, 2003 at 13:41

Friday, May 30, 2003 at 13:41
Try this book
from this website :
AnswerID: 21456

Reply By: Member - Melissa - Friday, May 30, 2003 at 17:12

Friday, May 30, 2003 at 17:12

Unfortunately you've hit a very sensitive issue in Qld at the moment. In it's "wisdom" the Qld govt are in the process of removing roadside overnight stopping places including the removal facilities such as toilets and fire places etc within 100km of a CVP. This is probably why you are finding your free campsite guides are wrong.

In a recent edition of On The Road magazine a govt official was quoted as saying something to the effect that travellers shouldn't feel that they are entitled to a "free holiday". And yes, you are quite right, it is an attempt to force people into CVP and is a result of direct lobbying by the CVP Owners Assoc. The govt position is that those who travel in Qld utilising free camping contribute very little to local ecomonies so basically, they don't give a stuff about them.

There is talk by the Caravan & Campers Assoc. of organising a "no-go" boycott by its many thousands of members travelling to Qld. A similar boycott occured in WA several years ago when the govt tried a similar stunt restricting free camping with 40km's of a town or settlement. The WA govt subsequently reversed its position so lets hope that common sense prevails in Qld.

:o) MelissaPetrol 4.5L GU Patrol &
Camprite TL8 offroad camper
AnswerID: 21471

Reply By: Member - Bill- Friday, May 30, 2003 at 17:15

Friday, May 30, 2003 at 17:15

Unfortunately you are correct. I'm also a member of the Campervan and Motorhome Club of Australia (CMCA) and they have a big battle going on with the Qld Gov't at the moment over this very thing. The last I heard (last month) was that the Qld Govt had issued a statement as follows "Overnight stays are no longer permitted at rest areas within 50Km of a commercial caravan and camping facillities". This catches just about every one exept for the outback. As you can imagine, the Motorhome grey nomads are not happy Jan.Regds

AnswerID: 21473

Follow Up By: Member - Bill- Friday, May 30, 2003 at 17:16

Friday, May 30, 2003 at 17:16
Forgot to mention, Thuringowa Shire (Townsville to Cairns) is an exception, welcoming free range campers.Regds

FollowupID: 13999

Follow Up By: Member - Nigel - Saturday, May 31, 2003 at 09:07

Saturday, May 31, 2003 at 09:07
Actually Thuringowa Shire surrounds Townsville. After Thuringowa you pass through Herbert (Ingham), Cardwell (Cardwell & Tully) and Johnstone (Innisfail) Shires before getting to Cairns. The Cairns city area is now quite large as it merged with the Mulgrave Shire.

Herbert and Cardwell shires have some quite nice State Forest camping areas, but the usual fees apply ($3.50/person/night last time I looked).
FollowupID: 14030

Reply By: Mark - Friday, May 30, 2003 at 19:17

Friday, May 30, 2003 at 19:17
Crazy that the QLD government is stopping people from pulling over for a nap. Makes a mockery out of the Stop-Revive-Survive campaign. Won't be long before its like the UK where you can't pull over to look at the views without feeding a meter!!!
AnswerID: 21481

Reply By: relaxed (Fraser Coast-QLD) - Friday, May 30, 2003 at 22:39

Friday, May 30, 2003 at 22:39
Just before Xmas last year we camped at Inskip Point (just south of southern end of Fraser Island). I was talking to a gentleman there about his nomadic lifestyle and how we would love to do it when we retire and our liabilities leave home. He commented to me that it is had to find free or cheap paces to stay on the coast, but the inland areas welcome them. His belief then was the tourist operators were more interested in chasing the tourist dollars. So mate, considering what the government is doing now because of local governments and tourist operators crying poor, I don't think there's too much hope for you. And for that matter, us to when we retire.
My best suggestion to you is to work out a rough intinery and these people if they know of any cheap or free areas in the places your be visiting. I know of a couple around here if your interested.
Good traveling and safe safe.
AnswerID: 21487

Reply By: kezza - Friday, May 30, 2003 at 23:10

Friday, May 30, 2003 at 23:10
Its ironic - my father fought in WW2 for our freedom but now even He and my mum - now in their (sprightly) 80s have been affected as you are Danny.

They have travelled up the coast since 1965 to work and/or dig for gemstones in North Qld. Last year because of Govt red tape and public liability issues they were unable to camp at an isolated gemfield 80ks from the coast, they actually pioneered back in the 60s, there are very few adventures left on the east coast.

I think you can still camp at Gin Gin and Calliope river and a couple of others on the Bruce hwy.

I personally keep off the beaten track and have no problems. But got a real shock recently.

I took a bunch of friends on a trip to Northern NSW for a weeks accommodation Paid in a National park but we left a day early so we could have a bush camp along the way (550km trip)- of 5 locations I knew - 4 were now camping prohibited and the last one was within 5 klm of where we were going anyhow - hadnt changed in 25 years.

I know a few spots between Sydney and Cairns that are still free but they are often hours off the main roads and one or 2 on private properties that I know personally.

Becoming grim for those with the original australian outback spirit.


AnswerID: 21489

Reply By: Salty - Saturday, May 31, 2003 at 16:15

Saturday, May 31, 2003 at 16:15
G`Day All,
Perhaps the time has come for all caravaners, motorhome, camper and 4wd associations to start lobbying the business councils of all small towns with no caravan parks to provide free or low cost camping areas. This could be at local show grounds council land or even a piece of land set aside by a local land owner. All travellers would use these areas at their own risk with no liability to the locals. The local Lions club or any such organization could maintain the site as a goodwill project and in return the travellers should buy their fuel and supplies in the town which would be a boost to the local economy. At the same time it would let the Qld CV park owners association know that they cannot dictate to the travelling public where and when we stay, it is our chioce where we spend our money!!! Regards Salty.
AnswerID: 21508

Follow Up By: kezza - Saturday, May 31, 2003 at 18:09

Saturday, May 31, 2003 at 18:09
On this point I think more and more property owners are looking at providing access for a fee and or a carton of beer.
You know what - Id rather pay a cockie 10-20 bucks for access to his property than pay 6 bucks a night for some of the pathetic national park or state forest campsites ive come across lately (and this includes some very Uninspiring campsites on Fraser Island)

FollowupID: 14035

Reply By: Member - Royce- Saturday, May 31, 2003 at 22:33

Saturday, May 31, 2003 at 22:33
I depends a lot on how blatent or obvious you are. I need to be a few minutes away from my next job. I have been known to 'camp' around the corner in the middle of suburban Melbourne or Hobart or Sydney! It's just that noone notices me... much. If they do.. they never let me know about it.

I guess a caravan is a different story. I still think that if you pulled up in a gravel dump area or slightly cleared pull-off you'd be okay. It's not a great idea to stop where the signs are specifically prohibiting 'camping'.

At worst I expect to be told to move on, and if you don't mind the embarassment too much this is a fair risk.

Has anybody actually been booked, charged etc?Royce
AnswerID: 21529

Follow Up By: goingplatinumcomau - Saturday, May 31, 2003 at 23:34

Saturday, May 31, 2003 at 23:34
Hi Royce

I also would like to know if anyone has been booked ,charged ECT.

I would give them a run for there money in a court of law.

What is the defination of camping in relation to principle place of residence.
Define Camping
Define miners rights ?
Define Breakdown Vehicle broken down and are you allowed to fix it
(where doe's the sign tell me as a person i have no right to fix my own vehicle)

I am sure they the Authoritys have heard all the excuses so what do people use to get around them ???
FollowupID: 14046

Reply By: Member - Ray - Sunday, Jun 01, 2003 at 15:10

Sunday, Jun 01, 2003 at 15:10
I've never been told to move on and if I am I will refuse and tell the "authorative"person I am too tired to drive and don't feel safe doing so.
This places them in the position of breaching their "Duty of Care" and they will be liable at law.
AnswerID: 21556

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