where to stay for free

There are hundreds of free official campsite across Australia that are listed in the popular Grey Nomad guides such as Camps 6. Along the main highways they are often every 100km or so. They can have primitive (non flushing) toilets, (but not showers), shaded picnic tables, and plenty of rubbish bins. In the Northern Territory and the north of Western Australia they can have 50 caravans corralled up for the night during the migratory season of the Grey Nomads.

Not to be recommended.

It’s OK in a caravan but sleeping on the ground in a tent can be a distinctly unsavoury experience. Umm, how do you put this? Despite the toilets there’s usually a plague of used toilet paper blowing around in the breeze. No one seems bothered to use the dunny at night. The ground stinks when there’s been months since it last rained. There’s often 100 miniature petrified logs just over the fence. Yikes!

On a bike you don’t need the wagon train experience.

It’s not Texas.

There’s no harassment by the police or authorities. The rednecks don’t (usually) carry guns. As long as you are discrete there’s little chance of being hassled by landowners.

The only places that are best avoided are close to towns where the unwanted company may run to the local stray, semi-wild, dogs.

The good news is that in the Australian countryside you often have a legal right to camp anywhere along the road. That must come from the old stock droving history of the Outback.

Get off the main highway on a side road, or preferably an obscure track a few hundred metres and no one will know you are there. Down a fenceline is good.

There aren’t so many bike riders once you escape Highway 1 around Australia, or the Stuart Highway from Port Augusta to Darwin. No one is expecting you and in any case there’s usually admiration for the effort rather than antagonism. With the huge distances and lack of budget facilities along the way most people are sympathetic to the occasional long distance bike tourer.

Camping out in the middle of not a lot with the sun setting and the full moon rising is one great experience.