Camping in the country’s numerous state forests is a magnificent experience … and, by and large, it’s free!
There are different rules and regulations across the states and territories but it’s fair to say that facilities – where there are any – will be fairly basic. If you are lucky, you may be blessed with a long drop toilet, a picnic table or a fire pit. Otherwise, there might just be a clearing. It’s time to enjoy camping in its purest form in Australia’s Great Outdoors.
When camping in state forests it pays to be self-sufficient and to come prepared and well stocked.
For many grey nomads, for whom travelling with a beloved pet is absolutely essential, the big advantage of state parks over national parks is that – with some small exemptions – dogs are generally allowed. However, they must be kept under direct control at all times and are expected to be kept on a leash in picnic and camping areas or when near other visitors.
State forests are often tucked away off main highways and thoroughfares so you must be comfortable with the prospect of spending the days and nights alone. If you are the sort of traveller who gets a bit jumpy about a rustling in the bush or the sound of a distant engine, it might be best to go with a travelling companion or two the first time.
Although many are remote, state forests can deliver a rich variety of activities including such things as bushwalking, canoeing, fishing, four wheel driving and cycling.
Camping in our magnificent forests for free is a real honour and privilege and all state forest authorities urge visitors to respect their wonderful environment.
In Victoria, for example, grey nomads and other campers are urged to tread lightly and to:
• Camp in an existing campsite rather than create a new one and camp at least 20 metres from any stream, lake or reservoir.
• Be careful of camping under trees. Trees can lose their limbs at any time, but particularly during high winds.
• Not dig trenches around tents.
• Use toilets where they are provided. In areas without toilets, bury toilet waste in a 15 cm deep hole at least 100 metres away from campsites and watercourses.
• Not cut down or damage standing trees or vegetation. All native plants and animals are protected.
• Take your rubbish home. Don’t burn or bury rubbish. If you have the misfortune to come across other people’s rubbish, do the bush a favour and take it out with you too.
• Use only dead fallen wood. Standing trees, even dead ones are a home for wildlife and a part of the scenery.
• Not cut down or damage standing trees or vegetation.
• Gather firewood well away from your camp and use it sparingly, keep it small and be conservative in your use of fuel or better still, bring your own. Where possible, use a lightweight stove for cooking.
• Take care with fire – observe all fire regulations and Total Fire Ban days. Use existing fireplaces rather than create your own. Ensure fires are safe and that they are completely extinguished when you leave.
• Keep to the track. Drive your vehicle only on roads that are open to the public.
• Protect water quality – wash up at least 50 metres away from streams and avoid using soap (use gritty sand and a scourer instead).
• Leave campsites tidy.
Full details of camping regulations and locations in state forests can be obtained from the respective state and territory authorities.
Camping in state forests can be one of the great joys – and budget savers – of an extended trip around Australia. Once they have tried it, most grey nomads make it an integral part of their Big Lap planning.