In many ways, grey nomads have become the victims of their own success. Increasing numbers of travellers has inevitably meant increasing costs at many caravan parks and camping spots. With camping fees – alongside fuel – being one of the biggest expenses facing the independednt traveller, there are no shortage of nomads looking for some respite from the spiralling costs of life on the road.
Sadly, free camping spots appear to be coming harder and harder to find and so many are turning to the idea of camp hosting. In Western Australia, in particular, this concept is well established. Vistors to sites run by the Department of Environment and Conservation will often be greeted by a camp host. In return for free camping, these hosts will collect camping fees and oversee the general wellbeing of the site.
John and Patricia from Fremantle have been ‘camp hosting’ for several years. “I think more and more people are getting wise to it now,” John says. “Once you have been a camp host for two weeks you receive free camping rights at any DEC campsite for the next year. It can be quite a saving.”
While the prospect of free camping is a major incentive for some camp hosts, many like John do it for other reasons.
“I suppose it’s my way of putting something back into the community,” he says. “We both enjoy meeting people and making sure that everybody has a good time. “We receive good support from the DEC and we have powerful radios, so if there is ever any trouble or something I can’t deal with I just contact them. The arrangement is if I cry wolf, they come and they come quickly.”
Happily, John has never had any serious problems during his camp hosting career, although he has had to ask a few campers to turn the noise down at various stages.
“People are very good in general,” he says.”They understand that everybody at a site deserves a fair go and trend to respect that.” However isolated the camping spot, camp hosts check in with the local ranger via radio twice a day just to let them know that everything is going well.
“It’s a great system,” John says. “And I think everybody wins. It is very difficult now to get camp hosting at some of the more popular spots like Cape Range National Park and Karijini but elsewere it’s not too bad.”
If you are interested in finding out more about camp hosting, the following are contact numbers for the states that currently run camp hosting programs:
NSW: please visit the website here to learn more.
Western Australia: please visit the website here to learn more.
Victoria: please visit the website here to learn more
Tas: please visit the website here to learn more
SA: Visit the website here to learn more.