In a country characterised by long stretches of road across a big outback sky with few towns breaking the horizon, stopping at rest areas have become a necessity for many drivers.
Growing evidence of the role fatigue plays in many accidents on our roads has given rise to the marked improvement in the number and standard of rest areas. They are meant to provide a place to break your journey, have a rest and then resume once again refreshed.
Each state has its own policy with regard to overnight stays at rest areas and most have produced free maps showing where the rest areas are and what facilities are available.
Picnic tables, rubbish bins and toilets are generally provided at sites where 24-hour-stops are permitted, and many places also offer shade.
Inevitably, these rest areas are quite close to the road, but they are commonly down a short access track that offers some protection from traffic noise. You’ll find that the more attractive roadside stops prove quite popular, and by 4pm a cluster of grey nomad rigs has normally gathered.
Given that it is never ideal to camp near big roads where anyone might pull in during the night, amazingly few security problems are reported. Just be aware of your surroundings and your neighbours.
Most state road authorities produce free maps or charts detailing where rest areas are and whether overnight stays are permitted.
VIC: click here
NSW: click here
Queensland: click here
SA: click here
TAS: click here
NT: click here
WA: click here
While it is unlikely that an exhausted motorist would be reprimanded for taking a break from the road during a long journey, there are nonetheless rules governing the way rest areas and heavy vehicle areas should be used in each state and territory.
Clearly, the local commercial caravan parks would not be amused if scores of grey nomads set up a long-term encampment at a rest area. Travellers can be fined for overstaying time limits of for camping at a rest area illegally.
Nonetheless, rest areas – particularly on long stretches of endless Outback road – form an important part of most grey nomads’ camping itinerary.