Tons and tons of older Australians are hitting the road with their camper trailer and never looking back. For many Grey Nomads, they’ve worked hard all their life, providing for kids and grandkids and now have the free time and a perfect opportunity to head off and explore.
We bet that if you’re an avid camper trailer holiday maker, a mature traveller or a full-time traveller, you know your fair share about how to get around, what to take with you and all the tips and tricks that you won’t find in any instruction manual.
But with being a mature age traveller comes some extra considerations such as easy setup, easy-to-reach locations and for the budget-conscious, cheap getaways to fit in with a pension budget!
If you’re a Grey Nomad, this one’s for you. We’ve put together a list of some of our best tips for free camping and caravan park camping catered specifically to you with all the needs of a mature Aussie traveller in mind.
There’s also the all-important realisation that you might not be as young and able as you used to be, even if you don’t realise it (or don’t want to). So, we’ve included a list of rest stops in all areas of the country to ensure you’re rested up and ready to go.
This goes for any traveller on the roads, but for Grey Nomads in particular, it’s important to make sure that you schedule in frequent stop to always make sure you arrive alive, even if it is a few hours later than you used to.
In a country such as ours with big long stretches of outback and wide-open spaces, you’re more than likely to come across times where its hours and hours before you hit the closest small town, let alone your final destination.
Great rest stops have been popping up more and more in recent years, and there are now some fantastic designated spots in all areas of the country for you to take a break, make some lunch or pour yourself some hot tea. Go on, you’ve earnt the right to relax!
When it comes to staying overnight, each state has its own policy in regards to this, so make sure you check surrounding signs before setting up camp overnight. While it’s unlikely that a tired driver would be given consequences for taking a rest on the road, there are still rules that everyone has to follow.
You’ll even find that some of the more popular roadside stops have become a place where Grey Nomads stop to gather and swap stories. Take a look at some of these roadside stops and make them an integral part of your journey.
Click on each state to see a list of rest stops in each state.
While sometimes staying in caravan parks is the best option, free camping grounds are popping up left right and centre. If you’re traveling with a Mars camper trailer, there’s a big chance that you have more than everything you need with you, so there will be not much a caravan park can offer you that a free campground can’t, you’ll have things like your kitchen right there with you.
This type of camping is also very appealing to Grey Nomads as they don’t feel obliged to pay for the facilities in caravan parks like giant jumping castles and playgrounds that families will need.
As a grey nomad or retiree, you may find yourself wanting to explore with a minimal budget, which is what makes free camping so great. Here’s out top tips for securing prime positions in places like state forests, which are most of the time, completely free to set up camp in.
Each state has its own regulations and rules, and if there are any facilities they are likely to be basic. We’re talking bare bones, like a drop toilet, picnic table and not much else. If you’re up for the challenge and still feel like you would enjoy back-to-basics camping (if you ever did in the first place), this way may be for you.
Tip number one is to always be self-sufficient. There may not be much around, so always come with everything you need. This shouldn’t be too tough if you’re in a Mars Camper.
State forests are often tucked away off main highways, so its best if you’re comfortable going a little bit off-road and spending the nights alone. If you are the sort of traveller who gets a bit jumpy about a rustling in the bush or the sound of a distant engine, it might be best to go with a few travelling companions the first few times.
Camping in our magnificent country for free is a real honour and privilege and all state forest authorities urge visitors to respect their wonderful environment, which we’re sure you will!
Make sure you keep these points in mind:
• Camp in an existing campsite rather than creating a new one and camp at least 20 metres from any body of water.
• Be careful of camping under trees. Trees can lose their limbs at any time, but particularly during high winds.
• Use toilets where they are provided. In areas without toilets, bury toilet waste in a 15 cm deep hole at least 100 metres away from campsites, or invest in a toilet for your camper trailer, of course. Some Mars Campers even come with an en-suite included!
• Don’t cut down or damage standing trees or vegetation. All native plants and animals are protected.
• Take your rubbish home. If you have the misfortune to come across other people’s rubbish, do the bush a favour and take it out with you too.
• Use only dead fallen wood. Standing trees, even dead ones are a home for wildlife and a part of the scenery.
• Gather firewood well away from your camp and use it sparingly, keep it small and be conservative in your use of fuel or better still, bring your own. Where possible, use your camper trailer kitchen.
• Take care with fire – observe all fire regulations and Total Fire Ban days. Use existing fireplaces rather than create your own. Ensure fires are safe and that they are completely extinguished when you leave.
• Keep to the track. Drive your vehicle only on roads that are open to the public.
Warm showers you don’t have to clean, toilets you don’t have to scrub, washing machines you don’t have to replace the detergent for…. Ahh the simple things! Pulling into a caravan park is more than likely going to be a huge part of a Grey Nomads trip, and so they should be!
If you find yourself craving the simple nature of pulling up to a caravan park and using the amenities, here are our best tips for choosing caravan parks right around the country.
Experienced Grey Nomad travellers consider a caravan park to be decent if they include the following things:
Dog friendly. A lot of people are travelling with pets instead of kids as they get older, so having a pet friendly caravan park is important to many travellers. The hot tip is to head to the Northern Territory is you’re looking for lots of dog friendly spots.
Although this goes without saying, lots of Grey Nomads place a great importance on the basics of a caravan park; a clothes line, washing machine, lots of fridge and freezer space and extra power points to make sure you can really relax after a long day of exploring or traveling.
If you plan on staying for a while in one spot or travelling long term, it can be worth signing up to members programs with parks such as Big 4 and booking ahead to make sure you don’t miss out.