Is the ‘self-contained’ only trend dividing grey nomads?

Published: November 24, 2021

It’s a phenomenon most grey nomads travelling in a ‘modest’ rig will be all too well aware of … the rise of the ‘self-contained-only’ camping area.

While it’s obviously ‘easier’ for local authorities offering free or low-cost campsites not to have to deal with providing and maintaining even basic facilities, the trend does effectively exclude non-self-contained grey nomads from an increasing number of spots.

Veteran travellers like Ted Samuels – who tows a Cub Brumby Camper trailer – says it is actually creating a ‘them and us’ division among the travelling community.

“Everything seems to be focused on the big, well-equipped RVs but they forget how many of us are out there,” he said. “How much would it cost for them to put a long drop or toilet in … and think of the financial gains.”

Self-contained vehicle trend affects grey nomads

The issue has once again been put in the spotlight after a landowner in far north Queensland applied to transform his 57-hectare property just a few minutes out of Mareeba into a budget camping ground.

The owners stated in their development application the campsite would ‘not be open to caravans or large vehicles such as buses or any campers without fully self-contained conveniences’.

“No facilities are provided with the exception of rubbish bins,” said Manuel Hausmann. “The park will operate on a leave it as you found it basis … true bush camping!”

The proposed campground is intended to accommodate a maximum of 74 guests at any one time, and an onsite manager will be established with four camping areas opened and shut as required and depending on the season.

So, with the self-contained-only trend growing, it seems that nomads like Ted Samuels who are travelling in rigs without an ensuite or without capacity to store black water or grey water may just have to get used to feeling increasingly ‘discriminated against’.

And Ted certainly resents the implication that, because he doesn’t have a ‘self-contained’ rig, he is somehow a lesser traveller and less respectful of the environment in which he travels.

Sometimes, he says, the exact opposite is true with people in big rigs ‘behaving badly’ while those in more modest units do the right thing.

“We free camp where we can and leave nothing but footprints,” he said. “And then I see other travellers leave rubbish at overflowing garbage cans and it annoys me … if you can bring it in, you can take it out.”

  • Do you think it is right that so many campsites in beautiful areas are effectively out of bounds to so many grey nomads … or do you think it’s the obvious way to go? Comment below.


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Malcolm Jeffries
5 days ago

what is wrong with taking a portaloo and a grey water tank in your van it doesn’t say you have to have an ensuite

Michelle Hall
5 days ago

Tell me the name I will avoid the placee one in all in i love talking to everyone who travels and ask about their rigs its how we learn some handy tricks

John Walker
5 days ago

I don’t think its about discrimination – just common sense. How do none compliant RVs propose to dispose of their black and grey water? Its not a case of fewer campsites for these campers, just that many councils and local communities are becoming increasingly RV friendly by providing additional overnight stops for self contained vehicles, often close to town where obviously it would not be appropriate to just allow grey water to run to ground and what then of toilet waste and paper?
Having traveled extensively through NT, SA and WA over the past 2 years in our fully self contained motor home, we have been disappointed at the number of obviously none compliant RVs who insist on making use of sites clearly posted as for self contained only. We would see people camping in their cars or in roof top tents, usually sneaking in just after dark and leaving early in morning (to avoid being spotted by council rangers), quite often squeezing in between other campers. We saw instances of this at almost every self contained stop we visited.
One overnight stop in WA had been closed with signs announcing that this was because of the large number of campers abusing the conditions.
It was also sad to see so many bush camping areas spoilt by people who could not be bothered to bury their waste and toilet paper, just leaving it scattered around the area. In one very scenic riverside area we came across a disposable nappy just discarded on the banks of a swimming hole!
I have nothing against people having simpler rigs, but they need to take advantage of the appropriate campsites. If they continue to abuse self contained campsites then they will spoil it for everyone as these get progressively shut down.

5 days ago

Well. I do think one of the objectives is to have clean campsites. Experience is most of those vans and campervans without a shower and toilet – do leave a trace. Especially toilet paper in the free camp spots. We cleaned a spot of toilet paper at tom price earlier this year riddled with paper and next morning a campervan left tpaper right next to it. The term “self contained “ eliminates that problem. Grey water takes it a little bit further. Funny to me is vans with the sticker “leave no trace” self contained but they travel with dogs. Come on – you lie if you say you leave no trace.

5 days ago

I can’t afford to be officially self contained!
I use a tiny amount of dishes water and a tiny amount of water to clean my teeth and have a bit of a wash in, all of which ends up in a fireplace to disappear the next time someone has a fire and you wouldn’t even know I’d been there. (I book into a C.P. every 3 days for a shower).
I also have a toilet tent, and loo, but I wouldn’t count as fully self contained.

I don’t think it’s fair to exclude me or blame people like me for the mess some inconsiderates leave behind. I do understand that if you don’t have a loo it’s a good idea to choose camp with long drops, because let’s be honest the ground can get pretty hard to dig a good hole in. But insisting on FULLY self contained is devicive.

I would also like to add that in Oct I stayed at a camp WITH a long drop, where as I was arriving someone from a FULLY SELF CONTAINED set up was peeing in a beautiful hollow tree that later on some kids were playing hide and seek in, yuck. A grots a grot self contained or not. And I’m not a grot.

4 days ago
Reply to  Lucy

I agree with you. I camp by bicycle and with a camper trailer. I have been abused when camping/touring by bike with my dog, for not having a toilet with me. I don’t know where I could put it. I have been told to my face that we campers should not be allowed to camp anywhere in Australia unless we are self contained. Mostly I camp in stealth mode now, if I am on the bike with my dog, I avoid camp areas to avoid the snobs, that think only self contained should be allowed to camp in Australia. If this is what they believe, then they should lobby the government to ban tents and campertrailers, and vans that are not self contained and because their is a hell of a lot more of us out there,, this would cause the the camping industry to go broke. It is a pity that grey nomads, and it is mainly grey nomad snobs saying this to us. just don’t mind their own business. I have had enough of it,
f .

Pat from the Top End.
4 days ago
Reply to  Ric

If everyone would just get on and look after their own things and mind their own business everyone would be a lot happier and enjoy life..
you only get one go at it and time gets on very quickly when you’re an elder. Travel safe and have a nice time.

3 days ago

So true, there are good and bad, nasty and nice, from all walks of life and none of us are getting any younger, let’s be kind to each other.
However, Gray nomad’ did ask the question, ‘is the self contained only trend is dividing Gray nomad’s’ and judging by the answers here clearly it is.


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