Ever wondered how you can travel in Australia without paying for accommodation? The answer is simple. Buy a ‘Backpacker car’ (a term used in Australia for cars that come fully equipped for long-term roadtrippers) and the WikiCamps to do Free Camping in Australia!
Your ultimate Aussie road trip will cost you the fraction of what it usually costs! We saved tons of money on accommodation fees thanks to this! Thankfully when we bought our car, the previous owners invited us to the secret world of free camping.
We had never ever heard of this WikiCamps before – and it is an app available for Australia, New Zealand, the USA and the UK. We would have always chosen official camping sites – simply because we didn’t know of all those incredible free campsites in Australia. And there are plenty!
So, I decided to compile this guide on how to use WikiCamps for a road trip in Australia. *Smiley Face* (by the way, I’m not being paid to write this – I really honestly wholeheartedly LOVE this app and want the whole world to know about it)!
So, what is this Free Camping App?
Wiki Campers are regular people, like you and me, who drop pins on an interactive map to indicate where all paid & free campsites (and showers, point of interests etc.) are located within Australia, so that future campers can find these and make use of them. Campers then comment on their experiences on these campsites (ordered by date), so you always know what the current state of affairs is in regards to (especially free) campsites all over the country.
Why is it so useful?
Free camping in Australia, in many parts of the country, can be illegal. If you are unlucky, you could end up paying a huge fine for parking up somewhere random to sleep in your car or camp (in the Byron Bay area someone reported to having had to pay a fine of AUD $1000…ouch!). This is why Wiki Camps is so wicked! The free camp sites are generally safe to use, tried and tested by hordes of budget campers – just look at the comments and see what other’s have said about the site. We read comments of policemen doing their rounds – but generally they leave without saying anything or simply check up on you to make sure you are ok. We camped free for a whole month, with a few exceptions where we used paid campsites only because we liked the look of them, and were never ever visited by the police.
How does it work?
It’s very simple. This crowdsource – based database makes it simple. Are you currently in Perth? 1) Then look up all campsites near the city and select a site according to your criteria. We usually filtered the sites by ‘free campsites’ as this is what we were most interested in. 2) Read the comments and make a decision where you would like to camp. If you find a pin is incorrectly placed, simply edit and change it – Wiki Campers rely on each other’s accurately placed pins (please be a team player and update anything that is incorrectly placed or has wrong information in it). 3) Drive to the location using WikiCamp’s map. 4) Camp free and enjoy! Note: If you download all content prior to starting your road trip, the app works offline too! Fabulous hey?
What about showers?
Good point. This is where it becomes a little bit tricky – but not really. If you decide to camp for free, you will have to shower at public showers near beaches (the hot showers are marked in the app – just look at ‘point of interest’ generally – Wiki Campers, including me, would make sure to indicate HOT showers wherever we spotted them…please do the same). The beauty about camping for free in Australia, is that you have all the freedom in the world to camp almost everywhere – but because it’s free…you generally don’t have shower facilities or toilets nearby. We had a stretch on the long Nullarbor desert route where we did not shower for three days. Yuk, right? Nah…could be worse. We used water, soap and baby wipes to freshen ourselves up.
It’s part of the adventure and not the end of the world, really. Is it now?
How much does it cost?
The Australian version is more expensive than the rest – because it is the most widely used and has the biggest community (that also makes it even more awesome as it is packed with info on free campsites). We only paid AUD $ 7.99 for it (which is more than I would usually pay for an app) – but an investment which is definitely worth making, as you save so much money on accommodation by camping for free.
Especially in countries like Australia, this means massive savings!
What should I keep in mind when using this app?
Free camping will only ever be possible thanks to campers who are respectful towards the environment and the neighbourhoods they chose to camp in. Keep in mind, that both the locals and the police turn a blind eye to you camping for free, more often than not. As long as you don’t litter and keep the noise levels down, no one will say anything. For now, free camping is still a possibility. But that may change if you don’t behave.
I was shocked to see how much litter was left behind by fellow free campers! It’s a sad sight and makes me really angry. Then everybody is surprised if hefty fines are imposed in certain areas all of a sudden – well, no wonder…the locals are fed up to find big piles of poo and toilet paper dotted around beaches. Seriously. I have seen it all.
Please take your rubbish with you! This includes toilet paper (yes even the used one). Just put it into a plastic bag and take it with you and dump it into the next bin. It’s that simple! If everyone keeps the free camping sites clean, we will be able to travel like this for a whole lot longer – hopefully. Keep in mind that if free camping in Australia is not possible anymore, you’ll have to pay for a camp site averaging – AUD$ 10-20 per person (a little less if you are lucky) – out goes the ‘campsites- for – free’ way of travelling throughout Australia. And to be honest: camping in the outback is so much more fun than sleeping at dedicated camp sites. It really is the quintessential adventure.
Don’t wreck it for everybody else.
Where can I download it? The app is available for both Android devices and Iphone – simply search for ‘WikiCamp’ and select the app for the relevant country.
Want to learn more? Check out the WikiCamp website and if you are still confused about how to use it, the guys from Wiki Camp did an amazing job to compile many useful You Tube Tutorials . Of course, please feel free to contact me, if you have any questions!
Happy Free Camping!
Have you ever done a epic road trip? Have you used WikiCamps before? I would love to hear your thoughts in the comment section below.
***No. This is not a sponsored post. I wrote a blog post about these guys because I think they rock!