Veteran camper trailer couple bemused by ever-different ‘self-contained’ rules

Published: June 11, 2024

While many long-term travellers opt for the ‘luxury’ and facilities offered by a big caravan or motorhome, grey nomads Terry and Vicky Lean opted to hit the road in a camper trailer … and it’s brought both its rewards and its challenges.

The Tasmanian couple have spent the last couple of years taking extended trips on the mainland … and they’ve been quite shocked by some of their experiences.

“We chose a camper trailer for several reasons; cost, size and ease of towing and because we feel like we are still camping,” said Vicky. “We like to be off grid as much as possible.”

They travel with a small tent for their Porta Potti, two 20-litre buckets with lids for grey water.

And they also have a hot water system for outdoor showers but seldom use it as it uses too much water.

“I call that self-contained,” said Vicky. “But there are just so many disparities when travelling.”

And that lack of uniformity is a source of constant frustration.

“We have been to places such as showgrounds and free camps where anything goes … and others where tents, boats and sleeping in cars is not allowed, and even some that don’t allow camper trailers,” said Vicky. “Many places ask for grey water to be used to water the grass or garden, and others demand it is taken away, and even others will not accept anything without onboard stowage.”

Terry and Vicky love life on the road.

Terry and Vicky, who travel with their dog so miss out on national parks, like to pick a small town on the map and head there, and say they often find amazing free or low-cost camps where they meet the locals and learn about the history.

“We also find that little towns are more open to accepting of any mode of accommodation and are generally more visitor friendly,” said Vicky. “At the moment we are in WA and have found very few free camps so we have been in caravan parks where, again, some want you to water the grass and others demand that it goes into a drain.”

While the Leans occasionally feel less than welcome at some sites due to their rig and their toilet set-up, they believe there are worse things they could do.

“We always pay our fees where there are honesty boxes or give a donation and really resent the travellers who arrive after dark and leave early to avoid detection,” said Vicky. “Many of these are big rigs worth a fortune and, unfortunately, are the reason many towns are reviewing their free or low-cost camping rules.”

  • Do you think travelling with a Porta Potti and toilet tent makes someone self-contained? Comment below.

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It does in all the DBCA parks we have stayed in WA. It’s actuality policy.

A porta potti, yes, a shower tent, definitely no. Buckets under the sink, No.

Last edited 6 days ago by Ian

Porta Potty & toilet tent definitely self contained.
Emptied in the same dump point as a toilet cassette from a luxury caravan.
I also agree with the fee avoidance comments in this article.
We see it everywhere.

Porta potty YES, grey water collection containers YES, but if you can’t put grey water on the ground then that counts out a shower Why should certain camping be only available to those that can afford expensive costing caravans with all built in in facilities included?

I notice that the owners of expensive rigs declare most of the places that they stay at “self contained only”.
Absolute rubbish.

Unless the camp-site is near a water supply ie: river, lake etc I can not see why self contained is required at all for grey water. It wasn’t all that long ago government (both federal & various states) were encouraging the use of hoses from your household washing machine onto the back lawn. It’s a PC campaign pushed by the CMCA.
A free camp in Cowell SA actually has a sign asking you to drop grey water on the trees.

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