Follow us as we explore the best places to stay, visit and run in Australia.

When we purchased our new caravan in preparation for our Big Lap we knew we wanted to be as self sufficient as possible.  After following many travelling families on Facebook and Instagram we agreed that the free camps were something not to be missed! Not really knowing much about the perfect set up we requested an extra battery, solar panel and water tank and went on our merry way!

Armed with the knowledge learned during our 4 hour caravan handover, we embarked on our first ever free camping experience!! While our bathrooms back home were being renovated we took the opportunity to test out our caravan’s free camping capabilities.

We stayed at a low cost campground for 4 nights with no power or water about 1.5 hours from home. It did have simple flushing toilets. We also stayed at a free camp site near the beautiful Avon river for 1 night with no facilities at all. We found both campsites on the Wikicamps app. Don’t go free camping without it! 

Here’s what we learned during our first ever free camping experience!

The GOOD

Free Camps are Amazing

We have stayed in many many caravan parks and none have come close to what we have experienced on this trip. There’s something to be said for paying nothing (or next to nothing) for a campsite beside a river or overlooking a cliff!

Check out our overview video of our first free camping experience here

Learn from your ‘Neighbours’

You can learn so much from other free campers. In just 5 nights we learned how to improve our set up, how to collect fresh rain water off our awning to how to catch fish with tinned sweet corn. Free camping seems to be a very “communal” experience.

Fishing lessons with our ‘neighbour’ who has been fishing since he was 4 years old!

 

Talk to the Locals 

A free camp is a public space which means the locals use it too. They are super proud to offer advice on what you shouldn’t miss in their beloved home town and this is often more valuable than anything you’ll find on Tripadvisor or Wikicamps!

Meeting one of the lovely locals who offered for us to say hello to her horse, “Star”.

Stay 3+ Nights

If you can, stay at a free campsite for at least 3 nights because you will see and experience something new each day! We saw a different species of wildlife and met different people each and every day. 

Day 3 and we had a new little visitor!

Explore off the Beaten Track

We were excited to see that our campsite had a beautiful water hole that we could kayak and swim in. While going for a walk we also noticed some local teenagers walking past this beautiful waterhole with their bathers and towels so we followed them (not in a creepy way!) and the tiny track led to an even more amazing waterhole!!

A magical waterhole was hidden beyond the main walking tracks.

Look for Hidden Gems

There are hidden gems in the least expected places! Wikicamps showed us where to refill our water tanks in Rosedale (a small country town in Gippsland Vic). Tripadvisor took us to the #1 recommended cafe and it was an absolute delight! Even the toilet was decked out in style!

Cafe 3847 & Co – A hidden gem with great food and atmosphere!

The BAD

Flies

Omg…..the flies. I even ate one! Being out in “wild” among the cows and the farms means way more flies! I’m sure it’s just a matter of getting used to them but WOW – sooo many flies! 

Mozzies

Mozzies are smart! They will eat any part of you that is unprotected! My little guy looked like he had chicken pox on his forehead!

Generators

We found out that our $2000 Yamaha ‘noise level supressor’ generator actually still sounds and smells like a lawn mower. If ours is the queitest in it’s class, how loud are the other ones?? We are beginning to understand the hatred of these things….. How’s the serenity? Sorry, what did you say? 🤣😂 We also found out that we can’t use the air con and microwave at the same time! 😳

The Dirt

No matter how many times you say, “Get out of the dirt”, they don’t get out of the dirt!

Playing in the dirt – as every child should.

 

Showers are Underrated

240 litres of water is not much at all!! We trialled our supply and it lasted exactly 4 nights with 2 short showers each adult (the kids had a bath in our dirty shower water!), one load of washing in our 4kg machine and lots of drinking water for our hot, thirsty family!

Country Pub Meals aren’t Necessarily Great

After free camping for 3 nights we thought we’d treat ourselves to a hearty pub meal. $105 later we had a cold meal, frozen vegies on the side and some frozen dinosaur nuggets! At least the beer was good!

The kids didn’t seem to mind the frozen dinosaur nuggets!

The UGLY

Selfish Fellow Travellers

On the 2nd day of our free camping experience, a couple towing a camper trailer stopped by the campground’s toilet block. When they left and we went into the toilets we found that the dirty pigs had emptyied their porta toilet cassette/s into the free campsite flushing toilets and spilled it everywhere!! I mean everywhere! Both toilets were completely unusable! We had no access to a hose or proper cleaning gear so we rang the phone number provided on Wikicamps and within 24 hours a lovely local volunteer arrived to clean up the disgusting mess. 

Potential Predators 

During our short stay we were reminded of the number 1 parenting rule! Always be vigilant when it comes to your kids and strangers! Never let your guard down.

When talking to one of the locals, we learned of a local vagrant who currently lives in his old caravan in the scrub and often frequents the local free / low cost campgrounds. He warned us to “Watch the kids” if he shows up! We later spoke to the local policeman who confirmed that this “nice old man” did indeed have a checkered past!! Luckily we did not encounter this particular individual during our short stay but it was a good reminder of how vigilant we need to be and not to be too trusting or complacent during our Big Lap adventures!

If you have any questions or comments or want to share with us some valuable things you’ve learned about free camping please reach out to us in the comments below or on our Facebook page.

This Post Has 3 Comments

  1. I would like to follow you on your travels as we were about to go on our merry way but the cook fell over in shower and broke a couple of vertebrae Needless to say trip put on hold Loved your article
    Safe travels and looking forward to the next intstallment
    Regards Mick and Lesley

    1. Hi Mick and Lesley!
      We’d love you to follow along! So sorry to hear about “the cook”! Wishing her a speedy recovery. Sam and Chris.

  2. Instead of using the washer,get yourself a 20ltr tomato bucket with lid and put things in it like underwear and T shirts shorts with soap powder and half fill with water stand in the shower and as you drive along it swishes them about and washes them for you with less water than a machine, you can save that water and use it to flush the toilet.

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