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Powers to be Discourage Tourists from Traveling in Australia

Updated on September 14, 2013

Arriving at another free camp by river in our self contained van with solar panels on car and caravan

After spending fourteen months traveling around Australia in a self contained caravan we learnt so much.  Some towns and governments or powers to be go out of their way to encourage Tourism.  Whereas others really act in reverse and turn tourists away from spending time and money in their areas.


The Tourism industry has the chance of making multimillion dollar investments in Australia.  Why are the powers to be destroying the town’s chances of prospering and increasing their business turnovers from the people touring through and spending their hard earned holiday and retirement money in those towns?


Parked next to Million dollar ocean view at free camp Camilla Beach

How towns discourage travelers

They are turning hoards of travelers away from the cities and shires by not having convenient parking areas in which travelers can park their car and caravans. If they cannot park, and they have plenty of fuel, travelers keep going to the next town. That is money not spent in their town. We saw this time and time again in fact it is common knowledge and we did it ourselves on numerous occasions.

Many other shires are selling their caravan parks for development, reducing places for travelers to stop.

Tourist Bureaus

Most Tourist offices are the first place of call in any new town. When towing a caravan, in many towns we did not stop because we could not get a parking anywhere near the office.

In one place they had good parking. The travellers could not use it as the surrounding office workers parked their cars in the caravan areas. From memory I believe it to have been Moree.

Main roads don't help either make free parking accessible to tourists. Signs for parking bays are missing or placed so close that by the time the traveler sees it, it is too late to stop. Often these bays are placed in quite dangerous areas, where when pulling out you do not have a clear view of the oncoming traffic, or at the base of a hill. What chance has a vehicle towing a caravan have of safely maneuvering up a hill with speeding traffic entering at high speeds.

Eastern Coast of Australia

On the Eastern coast of Australia, government, shires and councils appear to go out of their way to encourage tourists to camp along their rivers and natural bush lands, within reason. Some places do limit access to those with self contained Caravans and RV’s.

We found the Central inland and outback areas of Australia also encouraged tourists to free camp in and around many towns.


Northern Territory would have to be one of the worst states to encourage tourism and free camping; in fact I found one of the staff members in the Tourist office quite rude. I gathered that it was because I was not interested in booking a tour just wanted information.


Most of the state is controlled under the National Parks.  And we found people who travel with dogs were penalized.  It is hard to find anything worth while visiting unless you can organize somewhere to leave your dog, like a boarding kennel or vet services.

In fact, we tried to see the military museum and could not even drive to that building as there was a no dog sign outside the entrance to the property.


The best Caravan Park in the Northern Territory would have to be Tumbling Waters Caravan Park.  They could not do enough for you.  They put on a free sausage sizzle and a movie every Saturday night.  You needed to take along some protection from the mosquitoes though.


Free Park at St Lawrence

Advantages of Traveling in South Australia

South Australia would have to be one of the best states to appreciate and help the traveling population by allowing travelers to free park along the rivers from 24 hrs - 2-3 weeks. If other towns did this, travelers would spend more money in those towns spending money on food and fuel.

On the whole, many put in Drop toilets and rubbish facilities for the travelers. In fact we found a great place at St Laurence, they supplied free overnight parking,toilets and cold showers and charged a dollar if you wanted a hot shower. These were cleaned daily.

You do not find places like this very often. They even organised one end for tourists without generators and the other for people using generators.

We noticed people stayed and spent money in that town returning the favor tenfold. Why don’t other towns understand these benefits? Often two people in a caravan will spend up to $150 on fuel and $200 on food when they stop, so by keeping the people in or around their towns the town increases their profits.

We found the Central inland areas of Australia also encouraged tourists to free camp in and around many towns. Some charged a small fee to camp around the many lakes, where you could go fishing and boating as well. People definitely spent money in these places because they helped the tourist enjoy their holiday.

Gas Platform as seen from White Cliffs Free Camp Site Near geraldton
Gas Platform as seen from White Cliffs Free Camp Site Near geraldton | Source

Western Australia

I am normally a proud West Australian. Although I am sad to say that Western Australia is so far behind in regards to helping the traveling tourists, they need to do more.

As soon as we crossed into WA in the north of Western Australia, free camps were less conspicuous,and lets face it Western Australia is a VERY BIG State. During our trip we spent time talking to many disgruntled or unhappy Tourists, when asking for their opinions on the best places to stay. Most agreed that Western Australia was the worst. They found many parks were actually being closed all over the South West. They want to use the land to build higher class accommodation. Can you believe it?

Councils and Shires could help their towns

  • Keep their caravan parks- then people will stay and spend their money on groceries and fuel.
  • Offer reasonable priced sites powered and non powered sites- Nomads do not need playgrounds etc, just somewhere to park overnight.
  • Make Vehicle Parking available to shopping centers for large vehicles-If there is no room to park we continue to next town and the town misses out on our money.
  • Open their campgrounds - to allow for overflow travelers
  • Free Camps - encourage people to spend their money in the towns.


Some Shires have rangers going about moving people on from free camps, in fact at Margaret River they are fining people $100 for camping outside caravan parks. Why don’t they learn to open up show grounds for over flow tourist traffic and charge a $5 fee for un-powered and a $2 shower? And $10 to $15 for power.

Many towns in the Eastern states already do this and they work well.

Why is Western Australia so backward?

Free campsites advertised in the older Camps books are slowly disappearing. When a traveler looks in the current book and sees a free place, they plan their trip to travel there. Once there, they find it has been recently closed and a fine imposed if they stay. They are tired and now forced to travel further.

This not only risks the traveler’s lives, but risk the lives of others on the road because the travelers are already tired and now forced to travel further.

South from Dongara the Camps books showed several free campsites. When we arrived they were all closed, and made into rest areas. The signs said we would be fined if we camped there. Because of this we had to travel onto Gin Gin.

Most comments from visiting tourists to Western Australia and West Australians all said the same. They do nothing to help the traveler with free camping sites. Nor do they have enough caravan parks available for the tourists that want to stay in them.

Therefore I ask you the public, “What is happening in this beautiful State”. And wherever you live, “Do you have a similar problem in your country or town?

What are you the traveler doing to get improvements to the way your town looks after the travelers by encouraging them into their towns? Yes, you could do your part to promote more traveler friendly places to stay in your town.

Caravan Manufacturers

If the powers to be continue to try and push everyone into staying in Caravan Parks in their towns, then eventually Caravan Manufacturers will no longer have jobs. Simply because no one will buy a Caravan just to have it sitting in their own back yards.

Expensive Caravan Parks

Everyone cannot afford to stay in Parks while they enjoy a holiday on a budget. Especially some Coastal Parks in the Eastern States as they charge from $60 plus per night for two people in their own Caravan. That may be okay for the rich people, but as the price of fuel and everything else increases, you have to encourage travelers which cannot afford that kind of money for a hot shower and power.As that is all many of them want. If other parks can make money charging $20 to $30 a night, why can’t you?

Caravaners and Tourists cannot support your retirement fund any longer, as we have to look after our own dwindling super, which is at present keeping you in comfort.

Dog Friendly Parks

I have noticed a change in attitudes to dogs in the last 12 months. Many parks that were not pet friendly, now accept pets.

Why? Because they were losing too much money by not being pet friendly as more people than ever are traveling with a dog.


This article is the result of information collected from our trips around Australia. On which we took fourteen months and drove over forty-five thousand kilometers. During this time we talked to many disgruntled and happy tourists. Most were happy to share their opinions on the best and worst places to stay.

We recently did another trip around and some towns are starting to improve their facilities. This time we spent 5 months and drove 17,000 k's and found many new towns to stay in.

Update on 2013 Around australia trip - Dump Points

On our recent trip around Australia I am glad to say that nearly all the Rest areas in the North West now have dump points. This is great as it helps to keep the toilets free from chemical interference.

Free camping

Does your country have similar problems or worse

See results


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    • aboutaustralia profile image


      7 years ago from Newcastle, New South Wales

      Thanks for the heads up Eileen about the photos not working. I'll get onto it :)

    • Eileen Hughes profile imageAUTHOR

      Eileen Hughes 

      7 years ago from Northam Western Australia

      Marc, yes I agree, we all just have to do our best and try to make the powers to be understand what needs to be done.

      About Australia

      Yes glad you enjoyed your trip around Australia, I loved your web page, but some photos not working.

    • Eileen Hughes profile imageAUTHOR

      Eileen Hughes 

      7 years ago from Northam Western Australia

      Nannasharonmorph, Yes I am very dissapointed about west Australian tourism. SA was the best that we found after traveling right around. We missed the coast and big towns because they are toooo expensive.

    • aboutaustralia profile image


      7 years ago from Newcastle, New South Wales

      Great hub, and I couldn't agree more. Voted up! There's nothing that makes me happier than an RV Friendly town...

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Excellent article. We ghave been banging on for years about the loss of all sorts of campsites across Australia. Caravan parks get more and more greedy every year and shire councils do very little to encourage domestic tourists. Staying in caravan parks may be fine for some but we wanted more freedom when we travelled and luckily while we were on the road there was much more available than today.

    • profile image


      7 years ago


      Yes I too found the West lacking in a lot of ways. It appears to be a very greedy state. Most of the free camps I went to were closed and it cost me a lot in petrol to find this out. I also had to keep travelling or risk a fine. The one place I did stop that was very good was Lake Indoon near enneaba. The shire guy there(rob) was wonderful and wiiling to help in any way he could. It annoyed me when people would get up early and leave rather than pay the $5.00 even thought hey quite happily used the flushing toilet, the hot shower and the free barbecue. So there is fault on both sides. I was quite happy to spend my money in the little supermarket hidden away in the back of Enneaba but I found the people that owned the service station to be extremely rude and totally lacking in any understanding or compassion and I refused to go back there. On my way to W.A. I stayed at a lot of free or cheap camps here in S.A. and I must say I think we are a great state for making sure that tired drivers stop and rest. DROWSY DRIVERS DIE is our motto. Perhaps W.A should think about that.

    • CaravanDrifter profile image

      James Hamilton 

      8 years ago from Queensland

      I have a web site for free camping in Australia with hundreds of pictures also on my blog I do stories about some of those freecamps

      And the website is you may be interested.

    • Eileen Hughes profile imageAUTHOR

      Eileen Hughes 

      8 years ago from Northam Western Australia

      freecampingaussie, so true, towns do not care any more and yet they are the first to winge when no money coming in but they do nothing to make it easier for tourists and lets face it we tourists help to pay their wages. then again when you have powers to be in government saying tourists do nothing for towns it really makes you wonder. $300 grocerys and the same on fuel per tourist is not nothing in my opinion. but then again caravan parks rip us of for a powered site in the gold coast for over 60 per night for power and a shower no park is worth that much. I think I would rather use my free camps than give them a rip off status.

    • freecampingaussie profile image


      9 years ago from Southern Spain

      I did have one place we stopped at & the shop keeper said she had enough customers in town & didnt need tourists breathing her air or their money which shocked me. & We found we have to get to towns before they open so as to get a park.

      There are some towns with caravan parking but hard to find.

    • Eileen Hughes profile imageAUTHOR

      Eileen Hughes 

      9 years ago from Northam Western Australia

      KJ8 Glad to meet another West ozzie. Yes actually they were ok. dissapointed with beaches as you know nothing to speak of and no lovely white sand. Thanks for stopping by.

    • kj8 profile image


      9 years ago from Australia

      I too am a proud West Aussie and love this state and have travelled it extensively, I hope the folk of Derby were kind although I don't think the tourist bureau have suitable parking. I enjoyed this hub and will have to read some more of yours!

    • Eileen Hughes profile imageAUTHOR

      Eileen Hughes 

      9 years ago from Northam Western Australia

      prasetio30, I hope you can make it as it is a beautiful but very large spread out country. Thanks for stopping by

    • prasetio30 profile image


      9 years ago from malang-indonesia

      One of my dream is traveling to Australia. But this time difficult t go there. There are many requirements. But I am glad to know this information from you. I hope my dream will come true.

    • Eileen Hughes profile imageAUTHOR

      Eileen Hughes 

      9 years ago from Northam Western Australia

      support med, I can see your point, but most of the ones they will not let camp are like me the old grey nomads. And Many of them have money... not like us... But on the upside...we still have our health and money cannot buy that so we are happy thanks for stopping by

    • Support Med. profile image

      Support Med. 

      9 years ago from Michigan

      I can understand the concern for much needed income into any country. However, many countries are becoming very protective as to who enters in nowadays. There may have been some things going on, or plans being made which have not been made known yet. Interesting information.

    • Eileen Hughes profile imageAUTHOR

      Eileen Hughes 

      9 years ago from Northam Western Australia

      hypnodude, Yes it is amazing how dumb some shires and councils are. They seem to be more interested in what helps them personally not the town. Maybe I am wrong but it seems that way sometimes.

    • hypnodude profile image


      9 years ago from Italy

      This is very strange, even because you don't have Gypsies around. I thought Italy had the copyright for not so intelligent politicians and public "workers", but it seems I was wrong. Really interesting.

    • Eileen Hughes profile imageAUTHOR

      Eileen Hughes 

      9 years ago from Northam Western Australia

      I know this is the annoying part. They are concentrating on more higher scale tourism from what I can gather. Motels units, etc. Thanks for stopping by

    • Sparhawke profile image


      9 years ago from Manchester

      For me it something I can hardly believe, Australia makes a hell of a lot of money from tourism and if they go out of their way to make it more difficult where is the upside? lol

    • Eileen Hughes profile imageAUTHOR

      Eileen Hughes 

      9 years ago from Northam Western Australia

      breakfast pop, yes it is dissappointing. thanks for stopping by.

      Pamela99. Its weird because towns rely on tourists. thanks again.

    • Pamela99 profile image

      Pamela Oglesby 

      9 years ago from Sunny Florida

      I was surprised at your experience and yet I know a lot of places have problems. It is a very interesting hub. Thanks.

    • breakfastpop profile image


      9 years ago

      Very interesting hub about a situation I imagine few people are aware of.

    • Eileen Hughes profile imageAUTHOR

      Eileen Hughes 

      9 years ago from Northam Western Australia

      MPG thanks, yes that is so true, but you would think councils would encourage people to stop and spend in their towns not make it harder. Parking a large caravan is not easy in busy carparks for instance. Hope you do make it over here.

    • Eileen Hughes profile imageAUTHOR

      Eileen Hughes 

      9 years ago from Northam Western Australia

      Gus, Yes I agree with you the councils and the likes do not do their homework. I think they try to protect certain facilities. Like everyone when they get into politics they look after themselves and their mates.

      We loved our trip, and are waiting to go again but have to sell house first. We avoided those rip off places and enjoyed the outback or out of the way natural places more.

      And by the time they print the camp books they are out of date. You have to speak to the travelers their the ones in the know. thanks for stopping by.

    • Eileen Hughes profile imageAUTHOR

      Eileen Hughes 

      9 years ago from Northam Western Australia

      Duchess, Thank you I am sure they will enjoy it as long as they have a reliable vehicle. As australia is a very spread out country. But we have some beautiful scenery.

    • MPG Narratives profile image

      Marie Giunta 

      9 years ago from Sydney, Australia

      Travelling anywhere in the world has its problems so thanks for giving us the heads up to driving around Australia, Eileen. I love to do a trip around this beautiful county one day.

    • GusTheRedneck profile image

      Gustave Kilthau 

      9 years ago from USA

      Howdy Eileen - We had some friends who traveled continuously for about 6 years or so, stopping here and there along the way from Alaska and NW Canada and throughout the US from Florida, New England, and most of the southern and western states. They prepped for their travels for many years in advance, poring over guide books, travel park listings and so forth. Once they retired from employment, they used their "Social Security" income and, even with travel expenses and all, they told us that they actually saved money each month. When they got too old and in ill health, they settled down in a "trailer village" in South Texas, right next to the US-Mexico border and they said they really enjoyed it there. One thing else they related to us was that the commercial camp grounds along their routes were the "best." So, I would ask you Eileen, does not your own experience in traveling and the dearth of suitable facilities where you traveled signal "opportunity" for people to establish good commercial campgrounds that could be marketed to travelers at reasonable rates? It would seem that some Australian entrepreneurs may be missing a good opportunity.

      Gus :-)

    • profile image

      Duchess OBlunt 

      9 years ago

      Thank you Eileen, this is a great hub. My son and his girlfriend are planning to travel to Australia next year for an extended period of time. I will be sending your information to them as a heads up!

    • Eileen Hughes profile imageAUTHOR

      Eileen Hughes 

      9 years ago from Northam Western Australia

      Scarytaff, It is so true, it is just the minority I suppose but they are causing problems that is for sure. It probably is the same all over the world I dont know. Maybe I should put a pole on it. thanks for stopping by

    • scarytaff profile image

      Derek James 

      9 years ago from South Wales

      Shameful treatment Eileen. You'd think a country of that size would have plenty of space and would welcome tourists.It's beurocracy gone mad again.


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