Without doubt Tasmania is a state which boasts some of the best free or budget camping available within the entire country – and the bonus is that most of these places come with incredible views.
The agricultural town of Scottsdale provided one of our favourite ‘free’ camps so far. It was a great base to explore the surrounding area, including a Forest EcoCentre or even a half day walk to the top of Mount Stronach, should you so desire. The camp itself is located at the town’s ‘people park’ and includes a duck pond, frog pond, playground, board walks, free barbecues and gold coin showers.
We are becoming big fans of towns, like Scottsdale, who provide RV friendly facilities. We also believe that it is such a savvy move for these towns to provide these facilities – for use by both locals and visitors. Being able to save on camp fees (we made sure to leave some money in the donation box) allowed us to support some of the local businesses with our custom. Share the love (or money in this case) is a motto of ours. Of course, travellers are likely to spend more time (money) in places they feel welcome.
This is a stark contrast to the experience we had further along the coast at George Town, via Bridport and Anderson Bay.
After checking out the town, including driving out to Low Head, we called into the Information Centre to enquire about their camping facilities, as were listed in our Camps Australia Wide Book. The ladies in the centre didn’t even look up as we entered and one of them only got out of her chair after we stood at the help desk for a while. Upon enquiring about the possibility of camping outside we were told that they no longer allowed campers to stay.
The lady that couldn’t even be bothered to get out of her chair then proceeded to lecture us that it wasn’t fair on the owners of the nearest caravan park for us (or anyone) to want to camp at the information centre, even for a small fee. She continued, pointing out that the caravan park owners had to pay land rates and insurance fees and maintain the park and these costs needed to be recouped from travellers.
I could feel my cheeks burning as she was talking to me and I felt like a naughty little child. We were then offered the opportunity to park in the car park after all, at a cost of $12 a night but for no facilities – they locked the toilets when they closed the centre for the day.
It was a bit of a no brainer that we didn’t opt for this very kind offer!
Walking back to the car I was a little stunned (but unfortunately for Paul had not been rendered totally speechless). In fact, I found the way we had been spoken to totally offensive. Had we simply been told that camping at the centre was no longer available it is likely that we would have gone to the caravan park in question overnight anyway.
Instead we couldn’t get out of there fast enough.
A family of five travelling Australia is not without their own overheads. Ours, for example, have included car and caravan registrations – as well as insurances, roadside assistance costs, diesel (oh, the diesel), car and caravan maintenance (Paul is pedantic about our servicing schedule), new tyres for both vehicles, National Park Fees, road tolls, tourist destination fees, food bills (our kids all have hollow legs), medical/dental costs and the list goes on.
In addition to these we also have our house in Perth generating its own expenses. This includes not only the mortgage but also land rates, water rates, property management fees, maintenance costs, building insurance, landlords insurance etc.
Of course when we decided to travel Australia we were fully aware of all of these costs, thus we worked bloody hard to save as much as we could before hitting the road. In fact, some weeks we barely saw Paul as he was not only working long hours, he was also doing work for people in return for goods or services to help get us on the road.
Where possible we tried to pay 12 months up front for insurances and registrations. We also ensured we had put aside enough money to cover the shortfall between mortgage payments, property management/maintenance and rental income costs for 12 months.
We made the choice to travel and undertook this adventure with our eyes fully open. Our travels are self-funded. Most people on the road can say the same BUT there are also some who travel our great land, blatantly, on the back of other tax payers (that’s a whole other rant). With the effort it has taken to get on (and stay on) the road we reserve the right to seek cost saving alternatives if available.
Additionally, since being on the road we consider ourselves to have been responsible campers. We have never parked in areas where camping is not allowed, have never left rubbish behind, always put something in donation boxes and help other travellers when we can.
We consider travelling Australia a privilege not a right.
For it to be implied that wanting to save some money on camping fees was somehow inappropriate is totally out-of-order. We have stayed in excess of 50 caravan parks during our travels and have spent thousands of dollars supporting local businesses throughout the country. The reality is we cannot financially support EVERY business , be it a caravan park or other.
It is incredibly ironic that in this instance the very people responsible for welcoming and helping visitors instead managed to completely alienate us. Businesses that may have benefited (even slightly) from us passing through, ultimately missed out on our custom.
George Town and Low Head are both places worthy of visiting (we would have liked to stay longer) with plenty on offer for tourists including a penguin rookery, maritime museum, light house and York Cove. Plenty of information about this area is available online and even at nearby Information Centres but seriously folks, give the George Town one a miss.
I realise that having the above rant has now put me even further behind in getting up to date with the posts but feel the need to document the good with the bad. In years to come when we look back through our story it can’t just be about the places we have visited and Paul’s shortcomings can it now?!