Welcome to Life Images by Jill

Welcome to Life Images by Jill.........Stepping into the light and bringing together the images and stories of our world.
Through my blog I am
seeking to preserve images and memories of the beautiful world in which we live and the people in it.
I am a Freelance Journalist and Photographer based in Bunbury, Western Australia. My published work specialises in Western Australian travel articles and stories about inspiring everyday people. My passion is photography, writing, travel, wildflower and food photography.
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Sunday, 10 July 2016

Finding a Camp in the Great Western Australian Outback

I love the first morning on the road on a camping trip - watching the sun come up over the road ahead of us.  After weeks of planning and days of packing and organising to get ready it is a magical moment full of expectations about the trip ahead.


I know camping is not for everyone, and I like flash hotels too, but some of the things I enjoy most about camping you can't get at a hotel - watching the sun set through the trees, sitting around the campfire with a blanket of stars overhead while we toast marshmallows and chat about our day and the days ahead, and waking up in the morning to the bird song. The camp below is favourite of ours on the Gascoyne River on the Great Northern Highway south of Newman.  Just look at that reflection.


However one of the things I always want to know ahead of time, especially if we are fee camping, is where I am going to camp. We like to be setting up camp no later than 4.30 in the afternoon (maybe later on extended summer days). But if we are in a new area and don't know where we are going to camp I start to get restless.  When we were travelling between Tom Price and Mt Augustus on a gravel road in 2014 we just had to pull off the track in an open space to camp. It ended up being a beautiful peaceful camp and as you can see I still managed to have time to hang out the socks to dry.



Over the years we have discovered a number of fabulous free camps, either from maps and books, or advised by friends.  The one you see below is Bilyuin Pool on the Ashburton Downs Road 74 kms north of Meekatharra on the Great Northern Highway in Western Australia was recommended to us by our son. I like riverside camps. 


 There are a number of ways you can find these free camps. Maps, guide books, local knowledge, or talking to friends or people you meet on the road.

One of these guides we have found invaluable over the years is the Free-Camping series by Sue and Steve Collis. We always take these little books with us when we travel. There are others, just look up free camping on the net - for instance Free camping Australia.  The Camps 8 book is another good one.  You can also subscribe to their website or check our their Facebook page - Camps Australia Wide. The GPS locations in their book if you travel with something like a Hema Navigator are invaluable.  I know there are also phone apps if you are into phone apps.


Main Roads Western Australia encourage rest stops every two hours when you are travelling the vast distances of our State. They say fatigue is the silent killer on Western Australian roads and so to encourage drivers to camp overnight or to take a rest stop they have developed a series of 24-48 hour rest areas across 17 major routes, providing a few basic facilities like tables, shelters, toilets and large areas where caravans, camper vans and trailers can pull over and set up overnight or just stop for lunch.

You can find out more about these rest stops, including a downloadable map, on their website - Main Roads Rest Areas

This is the rest area at Minilya on the North West Coastal Highway north of Carnarvon. These free camping areas are very popular with travellers, not only to break up their trip, but  also to save money by sometimes not booking into caravan parks. Accommodation costs can build up over the course of a touring holiday so free camping is a great way to extend your budget. These days when many caravans have their own built in toilets and showers and solar panels, free camping is not such an issue. Camping with others also offers some feeling of security and the chance to talk to fellow travellers.




Some towns have also taken on board the free camping culture, offering free camping in their towns to travellers who are fully self sufficient - ie water, toilet, power - like this one in Kulin in the Western Australian eastern wheatbelt. What a great initiative to encourage travellers to stay in their town overnight and perhaps spend some money in their town.  In case you are wondering, the "horse" is on the Tin Horse Highway just out of Kulin.


Do you enjoy free camping? What do you enjoy most about free camping? Perhaps you would like to tell us in the comments. Thank you so much for stopping by. I value your comments and look forward to hearing from you. I will try to visit your blogs in return. Have a wonderful week.

I am linking up to the link-ups below. Please click on the links to see fabulous contributions from around the world - virtual touring at its best!


Life Thru the Lens 

Lifestyle Fifty Monday Linkup 
Our World Tuesday

Through My Lens 
Image-in-ing
Wednesday Around the World at Communal Global
Worth Casing Wednesday
Travel Photo Thursday

The Weekly Postcard
  

You might also like:
Dehydrating food for camping 
Camp food
Free camping on the Great Central Road, Australia

7 comments:

  1. Here in the USA there are not very many places where you can camp for free. Costs vary depending on the kind of campground and what is provided. Privately owned ones are much more expensive, a little less if in tents. I like that some of the state and national parks have yurts you can rent and then not have to pitch tents, as in my 60s I prefer that.

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  2. Jill I'm with you. Some of the most special places we camped were free camps when we went around Australia. Two of the memorable ones were at Cosy Corner Beach near Albany which was located right on the beach and the other one was on the Georgina Billabong just outside Camooweal near the border of Queensland and Northern Territory. Both locations were so serene and tranquil with so much natural beauty and birdlife all around us. We had the Camp 7 book but we also used a phone app called Wikicamps which was incredible. I will check out these books however.

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  3. Some super tips here Jill and great resources too. I can't wait to get back to WA to go camping, although we are not the veteran WA campers you are, with all the accompanying knowledge. I love some of the things you mention too - sunsets, sunrises, the sounds of birdsong in the morning, reflections on water, stillness, time to think and just be.

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  4. We used to camp a lot when we had young children and then stopped about 15 years ago. I like the idea of free camping and there's a fair amount of it here on Vancouver Island. I also like my creature comforts too, like water and toilets, so would rather choose a provincial site.
    Your photos of riverside camping and the reflections of the trees would make a free camper out of me though!

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  5. We went through a phase of camping a few years ago and loved it, but as noted above, it is difficult to find a place anymore that doesn't require fee payments for parking and camping as well as making reservations for a spot. Took the fun out of it somewhat. Love the photos of your campsite and the water reflections. Happy week and happy camping!

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  6. Gorgeous ! Have a great week!

    http://travelingbugwiththreeboys-kelleyn.blogspot.com/2016/07/gatorland.html

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  7. Wow, Australia really is just like a big camping ground! I've spent plenty of time on organised camp-sites- big and small- and a shower or wifi is all very nice. But that real sense of emptiness and space and the darkness with the stars above is something you can only get from camping free.

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