What’s your preference, caravan or a free camp site?

I’ve never been sure why we call it free camping. Guess it’s a term we use when we are ‘free’ from a 240v power supply in a caravan park.

Sure, there are some top spots around where we can camp or take an overnight rest, and not pay a cent, but generally we have camped in national parks or private properties that allow campers entry. For this, we pay for the privilege and I don’t mind doing that.

There are roads or tracks to be maintained, long drops to be checked and cleaned and there is always a few folks to clean up after, those that don’t play by the rules and leave sites a tad untidy. Councils also vary in attitude, some welcome campers and some don’t. Those that do, must consider it a great tourism and economic boost for their communities.

We have to get supplies, replace a few camping kit bits and pieces, maybe get a good pub feed or visit the famous country bakery or local attractions. To those councils, thank you for keeping Australia On Track, you will always get our support and I’m sure that of the general caravanning and camping public.


Free Campsites

As mentioned earlier, some private property owners are opening up to earn a bit of extra income. Depending on what facilities they have (or don’t have) this fee can vary, but it is generally cheaper than van parks with a lot more room to camp and relax. YouCamp… www.youcamp.com is a good source for these as is WikiCamps.

We have a favorite in the Flinders, Mount Little Station. Kate and Chris Blackmore have a terrific setup and on last visit we paid $10 per person, per night. The camp kitchen is well setup, the showers and toilets clean, and scenery magnificent. It’s 16km north of Hawker, details and reviews on WikiCamps.

Caravan parks

Now let’s look at caravan parks, some owners or caravan chains are upgrading facilities with more cabins, jumping cushions, very modern camp kitchens and piping hot showers and don’t forget increases in rates, taxes and insurance. Prices are rising, and they will be passed onto caravanners, we can’t expect them to remain the way they were twenty years ago.

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We have a choice!

Let’s look at other forms of holidays, compared to a caravan park. Take a more expensive overseas or interstate trip with the family.

Cost of accommodation and food in resorts, compare that to what we can get cheaper in a park and at the local store and cook ourselves in relaxed surroundings.

You can spend quality family time in a van park, you can’t get that stuck in a motel room, kids riding bikes, fishing, reading a book and wait for it … talking.

A caravan park might raise its prices (let’s hope not a lot), but your going to get better facilities and have a great time with your family. If you don’t like the rise you can always go camping, find a ‘free’ camp spot, national park or private property, there are always options and it’s usually only for a few relatively cheap weeks a year.

Oh, there are lots of parks that keep it simple and costs down, might be a bit out of the bigger ‘tourist’ towns, but well worth searching for.

A quick look at park costs, nothing official here, just my estimate.

We recently paid about $25 a night at Clayton Bay in SA, but lets take an average of $40 a night in a caravan park, multiply this by 7 equals $280 a week, multiply that x 52 weeks equals $14,560 a year. Sure you’re are not paying directly for water, electricity, council rates etc. but a lot of travelers that are permanently or regularly on the road can’t afford this, so cheaper alternatives must be found.

I just hope councils and caravan parks look at the big picture and support all travelers … together. Caravan park or free camp… there’s room and need for both… your thoughts?

Written by Andrew Kennedy, Similar content that Andrew wrote can be found on Snowys and RView Blogs.