Is there an obvious answer to the rest area ‘shortage’?

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Truck areas crowded out by caravans
Parked out ... a trucker’s eye view of a rest area at night. PIC: Transport for NSW

The news that the New South Wales Government is to trial ‘four-hour parking only’ limits at two of its highway rest areas, with the possibility of a wider rollout down the track, has sparked quite a reaction.

Transport for NSW is imposing four-hour parking restrictions for light and recreational vehicles in the general parking areas at the Yelgun and Arrawarra rest areas on the Pacific Highway, and vehicles lighter than 12 tonnes will not be able to park in heavy vehicle spaces.

Offenders will face $114 fines. While most grey nomads say they are fully appreciative of the need for truckies to get the appropriate rest, many are convinced that there is a more obvious way to counter the ‘overcrowded rest area’ problem.

“We need more rest areas for both trucks and car/caravan travellers,” said Rod Gray. “Everybody is on about road safety and speed camera revenues, so why not put the proceeds to find a safe resolution for all.”

Grey nomad Geoff Loats said that four hours was simply not long enough.

“Imagine if you get to a rest area at 4pm, you then have to be on the road at 8pm and drive in the night,” he said. “What happens if you have an accident after your four hours of ‘rest’?”

Transport for NSW has not responded to GNT requests for information about any plans to build new rest areas, but other jurisdictions have been more forthcoming.

In Western Australia, Main Roads manages over 1639 rest areas on a network of 18,570 kilometres. It says it has recently identified the need to install approximately 150 new facilities, over a number of years, subject to funding availability.

Main Roads spokesman Dean Roberts stressed that the rest areas were not intended to be a ‘destination’. “The facilities are designed for road users to take a break for up to 24 hours, and most of our rest areas can accommodate caravans and camper trailers,” he said. “However, when using these facilities we ask drivers to consider the needs of others and act accordingly.”

In the Northern Territory, rest areas are intended to offer a place for a short break, although limited overnight stays are allowed. Unless signed otherwise, road users may not stay at any one rest area for longer than 24 hours. The Department of Infrastructure, Planning and Logistics says it is currently reviewing the facilities provided across the network to develop a program of works for the next round of new rest areas.

Truck parking bays and rest areas for light vehicle users are kept well separated in the Territory.

“Typically there is good compliance from motorists in avoiding use of dedicated truck parking areas for rest breaks,” said a Department spokesperson. “There have only been a small number of incidences reported of motorists using truck parking bay facilities and getting in the way of trucks.”

In Queensland, the Department of Transport and Main Roads said it was committed to reducing fatigue-related crashes by continuing to identify rest areas that may need upgrading and/or identify new locations on state-controlled roads to assist with fatigue management.

A Department spokesperson said it had been investigating the issue of camping at rest areas on state-controlled roads and will consult across Queensland on any proposed changes to the policy.

“While most road users do the right thing by stopping and resting to help manage fatigue, there is a small number of road users who use rest areas as camping opportunities … we encourage everyone to do the right thing and follow the rules for the safety of all,” the spokesperson said. “Unfortunately, we are aware some motorists illegally dispose of their waste at these areas, impacting the public’s ability to stop and rest comfortably. In most cases, we seek assistance from the Queensland Police Service to issue a move on order under its nuisance legislation.”

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23 Responses to Is there an obvious answer to the rest area ‘shortage’?

  1. Why not make it over night, so you can have a proper rest.Say from 4 PM to around 8.00am

  2. It is not rocket science to plan a trip according to have somwhere to park and sleep .Heaven forbid that you might have to pay something to stay the night.

    • Well said Alan but a considerable number of nomads expect to be able to stop anywhere and do anything include disposal on the roadside and fillup with potable water without having to contribute anything.

      • They do contribute to roads and facilities. My caravan rego is $684 a year and it isn’t on the road every day. Towing a va you use double the fuel which means double the fuel tax. The cost of fatigue related accidents alone could find more rest stops.

      • Is it wrong to expect to be able to breathe air freely, stand still quietly and rest comfortably for a decent period, without having to pay someone a toll or tariff? Seriously you would think that only people who tow vans leave rubbish? My experience is that more often than not caravan nomads clean up after the grotts who travel in cars and deficate behind bushes. We need MORE REST AREA’s

    • Sadly some of the grey nomads think they are the only ones that need a rest How about you get yourselves organised and actually PAY for the night so as the Truckies can pull in and get a REST would rather travel with a RESTED Truckie than one that has not had a proper rest Look beyond yourselves you are retired they are dtill pushing to earn a $$$$

    • perhaps everybody should pay including trucks
      if RV’s pay tolls as trucks they park as trucks
      just saying

  3. Well ,let me think,Hmmm! How about you plan your bloody trips properly and organise your overnight stops in a park or proper free camp.Lets face it, we are generally not in any hurry,so get your acts together and maybe pay for an over nighter some time. I am sick and tired of people winging and whining about the lack of free stuff.

    • Even the best plans for travel can go sour. Accidents weather animals on road, traffic jams vehicle breakdowns so some role do get caught off guard and need an unscheduled rest stop.
      The answer is build more rest stos. More people hit the road everyday so more are needed. Simple

    • Right on brother.Sit down with a map and calculator before you set out and work out what suits your style of travelling.
      Rest areas are just that – not camping areas.
      There are plenty of books that list free/low cost camp sites

      • Totally agree Alex some gn’s are selfish and killing it for everyone

  4. WA have very good rest areas there are many for both some for trucks and some where trucks not allowed
    I personally only stay long enough to rest properly most rest areas are on the side of busy. Roads and are not really a great place to enjoy a long stay . Let common sense prevail there are reasons that people need to stop longer eg sickness wait for weather (not everybody likes driving in storms or wind )
    Be safe enjoy this wonderful country be kind to each other .

  5. Caravans and motorhomes have no need to do the driving hours trucks do it is there choice to park there because it is free

  6. I keep thinking the idea is to get caravan out of the way of truckies. Forcing vans back on the road @ night seems to be getting them in the way. I suggest not allowing unattended vans this allows people to get the rest they need but not tempting them to overstay.

  7. Why not a system such as they have in some shopping parks. That is put in your rego which registers time of arrival and allows say 12 hours and a cost if you overstay. Simple surely.

    • Have you any idea what such a system costs? No Council I know of could come up with the bikkies for such a system

  8. This will not solve the main problem of insufficient space. The last time we drove to Sydney, we planned a lunch stop at a rest area. When we arrived it was packed with cars, caravans and trucks, it even had a food truck. With no place to park we just had to keep going, no toilet break or lunch. Just provide more rest areas first then work out how long people can stay there.

  9. I think part of the problem is that many rest areas are not properly marked. Signs should indicate “Trucks Only” for truck parking bays. Then there can be no excuse if banners are fined for parking there.

  10. Plenty of other places to pull up off the road,sidetracks,gravel pits etc.

  11. A number of comments here have hit the problem on the head. Grey Nomads want everything for nothing. Unfortunately they are they biggest group of whingers & whiners when it comes to paying.

    • I agree Geoff. If you take away the dialogue on free camping there isn’t anything to whine about. Rest areas are not camp grounds. Nomads need to manage their driving so they don’t rely on rest areas.

  12. The last 3 comments cover it pretty well. Why do some caravaners always have to have a level sealed “Parking” bay to pull up.Live a little .Plenty of small towns with low cost parks, sports grounds .They need the support and welcolme travellers. Get off the main hwys occasionally.
    Some people are never happy.They just don’t know how to enjoy the adventure of caravaning.I say stay home to them and leave more room for others on the road .

  13. The comment from The Qld Mains Roads means , ‘we’ve payed lip service to this problem but we spend all our money in SE Qld on wider smoother roads, more bridges over the Brisbane River & more & longer tunnels in Brisbane. Don’t hold your breath for anything to happen soon.

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