All about touring, whether you are a local or visiting from overseas.
Planning a longish ride, my first of any kind, I was wondering what most people do around cities and populated areas for a camp spot? Do the majority use Warmshowers, or do you use chuches grounds, sporting fields, ask a stranger as you pass their house?
I'll be wanting to avoid people as much as possible taking a country/'outback type route, but I understand regional cities and large towns will be a must from time to time. I guess caravan parks are obvious, but I'm loathed to pay what I hear can sometimes be thirty dollars a night for a tent site.
Is there some secret cyclers symbol marked into the bow of a tree denoting a free room ahead?
I know in the south west of Western Australia, for example there's little in the way of public land except for a thin strip between the road and farm fence.
Sorry for what I'm sure are painful newby questions.
Thanks as always, Ricky.
I'm of the same volition, I prefer to be away from others most of the time and lead a solitary existence. I wonder if most all tourers are pre-disposed to this loner-like existence and it's a large part of their motivation to ride long distances by themselves, that is, to be away from the maddenning crowds with their own company.
Thinking about it a little more, I would also have to add the simplicity of living invites me to outback/country trike touring, as well as embracing my lonerism.
I'm not much of a talker when touring but on the other hand I'm not rude or disrespectful so if folks want to talk or ask questions they get my attention. Grey nomads are cool I have lost count of caravan folk who pass me and stop up the track for a chat most times there kind enough to offer a brew with home made scones or a bite to eat. When I do want to rest up I do use caravan parks and many times you do get invites to have dinner or a cup of tea. Unfortunately riding a trike you tend to attract allot of attention and interest some days it's bad and other days your ok with it. Be warned if you pull into towns that have bakeries which in many cases are a great source of fantastic local tastes your not going to sit in piece to eat or drink that cuppa you have been longing for. Sometimes it's a pain in the butt when you just want to relax and drink a hot brew only to have to chat to some nog. Best way I handle this is don't make eye contact or find a table and chair that has your back to the world most don't like the embarrassing moment of going out of there way to get your attention. There not fail safe ways but there ways I have learnt to deal with people bothering you. I have met other touring cyclists but very few or just given a wave as we passed each other. You will always roll into towns or met folks on the road who ask did you see so and so there riding a bike up yonder. You hear of so many folks riding or travelling but in my experience rarely see them.
Photos is another thing that peeves me most just grab there phone or camera and snap away without even asking if it's all right to take images so that is something else your going to have to deal with in your own way.
You get asked all the time why are you doing riding or are you riding for charity. some even open there wallet to donate before you have time to tell them no. Many have brought me coffee at the local bakeries to say good effort and thanks for making our day your a novelty to them etc etc. I have had many older folk slip me 10 or 20 clams saying buy yourself a beer or drink but I never accept I just say thanks for being kind but I'm ok your a real gem etc. You do meet all kinds some extremely generous many asshats.
The asshats are the ones who drive buy thinking they can lean out the window and chuck fruit or food at you or just yell abuse for no reason. Living alone is fun and enjoyable for me and the best time is early morning riding or right on dusk when the winds drop right off and you can hear all the wild life. You get to see so much of the wild life at those times of the days plus you get to see so much of the light change as the sun rises or sets.
HB it's a great life and one I enjoy it has it's ups and downs but 99% of the time it's just you and nature it's a blast and like you say it's simplicity of living. Time means nothing you can ride to how you feel or enjoy a location for as long as you like before moving on.
One other bit of advice while I'm yacking your going to have to get used to changing weather conditions either make a decision to call it quits or ride on and through experience you will pick up the tell tale signs of making that choice.
Last edited by }SkOrPn--7 on Tue Aug 13, 2013 4:24 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Well - I am certainly not. I don't have any problem with my own company and am quite happy to ride all day on my own, but to me one of the pleasures of solo travel is meeting and interacting with the locals and fellow travellers.
Last edited by RonK on Tue Aug 13, 2013 5:01 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Cycle touring blog and tour journals: whispering wheels...
Is this a State or Local Council law?
MK I'm pretty sure it's state law and all states have the same law plus living a nomad assistance they can't stop you from camping anywhere you wish it dates back to the droving days if I remember correctly. Even the no camping signs are just a visual thing the old law still exists and has never been amended that's Australia wide. You don't need permission to camp on private property there are a few laws covering this in detail but I have long lost the links as a reference to all these laws. I have never had to exercise these laws in order to set-up a bed for the night most folks don't care if your doing the right thing.
Finding a good campsite becomes a second sense. To the point where if your good at it, including being friendly to the locals, seeking their knowledge can be a real asset. Particularly for finding good water.
If a country town has a showground, there is always camping available. The fees for a cyclist are usually minimal and an honour system. From a few bucks for the use of a warm shower to not much more expense, for showgrounds that have excellent facilities and are close access to good supplies and the showers are free, like at Taralga. Even if you don't stay the showgrounds are excellent for topping up your electronic essentials.
One of the things that make rural showgrounds special, is there's always good shelter, good water and free power outlets for recharging your electronics (to compliment your a solar charger if the weather is attrocious, of course).
Two showgrounds that I camped at in June, at Crookwell and Taralga. At Taralga I stayed for a total of two weeks and a few days in Crookwell, when the rivers flooded and I waited for the low level crossings to became passable, in the Upper Lachlan region of NSW ... and they didn't.
A maintenance day at Taralga.
Interesting things happen at showgrounds, even at the quietest of times.
... and topping up the water and charging the batteries, at Crookwell. While the batteries charged, I watched the pacers doing the laps.
Then it hammered down and I was grateful for the shelter. The historic Pavillion is about to be restored and have the windows and shutters refitted.
Hellbent, good luck and I hope that you find stunning spots to camp.
Last edited by WarrenH on Tue Aug 13, 2013 7:34 pm, edited 4 times in total.
"But on steep descending...Larson TT have bad effect on the mind of a rider" - MadRider from Suji, Korea 2001.
"Paved roads ... another fine example of wasteful government spending." - a bumper sticker.
In WA at least
Caravan Parks and Camping Grounds Act 1995
Caravan Parks and Camping Grounds Regulations 1997
from Caravan Parks and Camping Grounds Regulations 1997
My understanding the "Law of Trespass" would stop you camping on private land.
I also found reference to being able to camp for 24hours on Stock Routes.
I'm not sure what the aversion to town caravan parks and camping areas is. Sure, avoid the BIG 4 if you're on a budget but most country towns have at least one camping ground that is fairly cheap to camp in. I've certainly never been charged $30 for a single person in a small hike tent. In Australia, I would usually go for the local caravan park or campground as it has good faciities and is usually fairly close to town facilities. Otherwise, yes the showgrounds are a very good option, or some towns will have backpackers. In bad weather even a caravan park cabin for $40 is actually good value, or there is the cheap room in a pub for similar prices with breakfast provided.
Riding bikes in traffic - what seems dangerous is usually safe; what seems safe is often more dangerous.
I tour alone but for me if were to avoid the company and conversation of local townsfolk, shopkeepers, farmers and fellow travelers the entire experience of bicycle touring would be devalued by at least a half.
I love the natural environment and landscape but equally as much I seek out and treasure the light hearted banter and warmth many people, especially in the bush posses when approached with a smile and a friendly word. Fear holds people back, break through it with a genuine and open friendliness and the experience of travel (and life) becomes much more rewarding.
Agreed that it's murky and different in each state.
In Victoria, I understand that you can't camp on private property. Technically you risk being sued, but nobody in their right mind would go to that trouble and expense. I think the greater risk would be found guilty of the offence of trespass, which has a fairly hefty penalty attached. Again, however, I don't think there would be any policeman or woman vindicitive enough to prosecute such a thing - you'd more likely be asked to move on. Best to ask the landowner, most would be fine with it.
You can't camp in a National Park except in a designated zone.
You CAN camp anywhere in a State Forest except in a designated zone.
Regarding "public land" defined in the Summary Offences Act you will only commit an offence if you are asked to move on and refuse. So it seems that camping on public land would usually be fine, unless the local police take a particular dislike to you.
There might also be regulations or council bylaws covering any particular area though.
I've never done it myself, but I gather that many bike tourists will simply ask the local police station. They'd usually be happy to help.
Meh, that is not strictly correct. It depends very much on which national park. Many will allow ramdom camping. For example, it is quite legal to camp anywhwere in the Grampians National Park as long as you are >1km away from any designated camp site. Virtually all of the Alpine National Park is open to camping, outside of any specific reference areas. I believe that the Great Otway National Park is similarly open to more widespread camping.
On the other hand there is no camping anywhere in the Dandenongs National Park, nor in Studley Park.
Riding bikes in traffic - what seems dangerous is usually safe; what seems safe is often more dangerous.
See this is another murky area to the law when it comes down to camping if you leave your camp site before the break of dawn you haven't stayed the night that's in the legislation act. The government has had massive campaign over the years on the stop and revive campaign with the don't drive when sleepy pull over and rest etc etc. If questioned you can just say I was too tired to keep going and needed to sleep with that back in there face it's another murky area and it goes on and on like this.
I've certainly never been charged $30 for a single person in a small hike tent.
Sadly all too common. They justify the charge by saying you are occupying a site—then they stick you next to the septic tank vent—do they have that logic with restaurants as well, pay per table, not for what you eat?
My second night, admittedly in a tourist area, I was asked for $38, on my own, the same as two people with a camping trailer, and when I queried it was told that it was $50 for a single person small tent the week before.
It's often cheaper to stay at a backpackers.
I sometimes had a laugh about where I camped: in Port Hedland, where it was $44 for the cheapest site, not that you could get in, I camped under a tree not far away from the Woolworths, right in the centre of town; I slept in a band rotunda in a country town; under another tree in a park; under the sports ground sun shade at Newman, down at the airport in Boulia, etc. Just set up after dark and no one will even know you are there. People are generally too busy getting to where they have to be and don't wander through bushy areas, the early morning dogwalkers are the people you meet.
My first ever bike tour, a solo overnighter when I was about 17, I didn't really know where I was going, or where I would get to get to for my overnight stop. By mid afternoon I had a reasonable idea, so aimed for a town that I thought had a caravan park.
Turned out... it didn't have a caravan park
I probably should have Googled to see where I would find caravan parks... but I would have had to wait another 5 years for Google to be invented
I asked at the local police station where I would be able to camp; they let me set up my tent in their back yard. I don't think it's something you could rely on, but at least it's something to add to the list of options.
Later in my misspent youth I was doing a lot of whitewater kayaking, which generally involves driving great distances at short notice, to get to the river, and sleeping anywhere vaguely horizontal. I never did much worse than roadside car parks, lookouts , grassed river banks and rest areas, but I remember laughing at the photos from friends' river trips that involved camping on school playgrounds and making sure they were awake and gone before the staff and students turned up.
There's a wide buffer between "allowed to" and "can get away with". Of course, it's always better to err on the side of what is legal and officially endorsed... but you can get away with far dodgier than that.
 There are few things that can compare with waking up the observation platform at Powers Lookout and watching dawn break over the King Valley in the Victorian Alps (between Mansfield and Whitfield).
It was 1980. We rode from Geelong along the west coast of Victoria. In Mt Gambier we were in our first large town with nowhere to stay. So far on the tour we had payed for a campsite just once (and that was the only paid camp in a 17 day tour). My mate was a police officer so we asked at the SA Police.
"Yeah, sure. Look just go back past the big roundabout and there's a pine forest on the left. You'll be fine to camp in there. You can't miss it - it's just across the road from the big caravan park" We did as they suggested, even camped for two nights..... and on our rest day we walked across the road to the caravan park to wash some clothes
This tour had many memorable campsites
- on the beach outside Apollo Bay for two nights.... right behind the "No Camping" sign
- at a farmhouse property we had been told about by a kid in Portland - next morning they were raided for drugs. Boy was I glad my mate was a copper
- on town football ovals and cricket gronuds
- invited by a lovely lady in Maldon, on a very hot day, to spend the night dossed down on sleeping mats in the cool corridor of their Victorian cottage
In Victoria most towns have a river or creek passing through them and you will always find a nice campsite there to tuck yourself away for a night. Football grounds and Showgrounds are always good as they have basic facilities. Not so wise in a larger city but very good to use in small-medium towns. Ask at the local tourist information centre, they're always very helpful.
Agreed, very useful app, but definitely work out how to use it BEFORE the afternoon of the day you need to find a camp spot. Wasn't the most intuitive UI I have experienced
As for all this legal mumbo jumbo and being allowed to camp in this that and the other public spaces, it genuinely freaks me out. Reminds me of a straight up, card carrying crazy I had the bad luck of meeting in a national park who went hiking in only underwear and was forever responding to the questions of some divine being. Just be smart about picking a spot, and if someone asks you to move just do it. And if they fine you or sure you, then congratulations, you met an arsehole!
This was camping just on the northern outskirts of Perth (Two Rocks) ...
I pretty much use Wikicampsbut found it not that great so far in WA, stay in caravan parks in towns (chance to shower, recharge etc) if I need to or otherwise simply camp off the road ( I look out for nature reserves or the like or on station property further north). Some times I was simply behind a bush or three within 50 metres of the highway. No issues.
Sometimes there is even a five star campsite just for cyclists
Have ridden between Benalla and Whitfield, Tim, would love to see that end too.
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