Rest Areas or Free Camps? The Facts and the Fiction Part 3

Rest Areas or Free Camps?  The Facts and the Fiction Part 3

In this, the third of a three part series, Keith Thompson our roving FRC Ambassador, looks at the other options for short overnight stops, or perhaps a little longer.


There are many other Free Camp options in the form of locally managed Picnic Areas, Fishing Camps, Dams, Forests, and some National Parks, as well as specific council provided RV Stops in an increasing number of towns and villages.  An example is one at Tully in Queensland which is free; you do have to catch grey water but the dump point is at the gate (this is not uncommon).

Tully RV Parking Area

Rest areas such as this, or which permit an overnight stop over have been included in FRC’s as designated “Free Camps” and will appear in this category. Note that we also include here those which ask for a small donation; if they have a fixed fee of $10 or more however they become “Campgrounds” (Sometimes the distinction is narrow!)

Searching Free Camps by selecting a large radius on the website or using the Map search on the App (Premium members) will turn up various options in many areas; town RV stops like the one above is only one of them. There are riverbank sites, dams, and even Showgrounds which are free in some small communities.  If you want to expand your options there are many sites in our Campgrounds category which are low cost, see the comment above on how to find them.

Another example of a great stop over is this Free Camp is at Bogan Weir, only 7km off the Newell Highway at Peak Hill; this is a large area with some water frontage, shelters, and bins.

Bogan Weir Rest Area

Problem Areas

The use of Gravel Pits as an overnight stop is another controversial issue and in fact, illegal everywhere as these areas are essential “Crown Land” or “Crown Reserves” (all road reserves are Crown land from fence to fence). In almost all States, of which WA is one, it is illegal to camp anywhere outside of an approved area, this is part of the WA legislation which expands this to areas that may be “off-road” as well:

“access to unallocated crown land and unmanaged reserves by vehicle is limited to roads, tracks and designated parking areas, and people are only permitted to camp in an area designated for camping”

All other States except SA have similar legislation, mostly placing a license or permit system in the hands of councils, National Parks, and other authorities; on the other hand, South Australia has this:

“Camping – You are permitted to camp on unalienated (sic. unallocated) Crown land for a limited time. Camping or occupying Crown land for a period longer than three weeks is an offence and penalties may be imposed.”

The downside to this is knowing if there is any “unalienated” Crown land where you are. Please note that other legislation including Native Title may also impact this.


Confused?  Yes, we all are but the solution is to take advice from reliable sources. Be wary of information shared in forums and apps which has not been verified. We are constantly undertaking an update of all our Rest Areas which may allow overnight stays. Also converting these to our Free Camping category. The Eastern States and SA are complete. Please take note of this distinction in our listings. “Rest Area” unless updated by us to “Free Camp” infers no overnight stays. We are always happy to receive any corrections to this for an individual site. Just use the “Comments” or “Contact” form. We will not publish your comment without reviewing it. Also not published unless we verify and make the changes to the site listing. Please note that we do not list Truck only areas.

Can We All Help?

Yes, we can. Please be respectful of the Truck Parking requirements. Keep all Free Camp areas clean and tidy and respect the regulations in place whenever possible. We all know it is easy to “play the fatigue card”. At times it may be necessary to do so. However, careful trip planning using resources like Free Range Camping can ensure that you stop for the night (or longer) at an appropriate and safe location.

If we all respect the facilities which are being provided for us we should expect these to improve over time. The more these roadside facilities are abused, the more they will be restricted or removed from us.

The Future?

We understand that a National review of the provision and use of roadside areas is being undertaken by a government-appointed committee. and we would all applaud some uniform regulations – preferably in our favour of course!

Bluewater Park @ Townsville

One example of a really great stop over on the Bruce Highway north of Townsville; Bluewater Park has water, toilets, and a Dump Point with a 48 hour limit:

Useful links:

Queensland Dept. of Transport
Main Roads Western Australia
Northern Territory
VicRoads: (Interactive Map)
South Australia
New South Wales RMS
Transport Tasmania

Disclaimer: Any information contained in this article that may imply a legal requirement is sourced from freely available published documentation from various relevant authorities.

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