Touring Remote Oz - the Myth Part 2
With an ever increasing throng touring the highways in search of the Outback Experience it’s getting harder to find an isolated corner to unroll a swag and light a fire.
If you arrived here from Touring Remote Oz. Part 1. you will have an idea of how difficult finding a little peace and isolation can be on Australia’s tourist trail. The real solution is to get off the roads most travelled and start exploring what this country really has to offer.
Of course this really depends on your chosen method of transport and how you bed down for the night. Dragging a 60 foot, tri-axle, apartment block on wheels behind you means sacrificing some flexibility regarding location. Naturally a proportion of the touring population is seeking no more than the ability to travel from destination to destination with all the comforts of home in one complete package behind them. With no real desire for anything more than the companionship of the caravan parks and the camaraderie of the bitumen this simple nomadic choice provides everything some people seek.
Admittedly, we are sometimes a little envious at the ease of opening a caravan door when the sun fades and it is time to pull up and start making camp. The opportunity to just hop into bed without having to unpack or the need to account for the weather each and every night holds a certain attraction at times.
However, when it’s time to see what lies on the other side of those sand dunes or to follow that snotty track over a mountain it’s terrific to drive off without thought of caravan or camper. Knowing that you can attempt any path you choose and your vehicle can handle gives a sense of freedom that the confines of a house on wheels can’t provide.
So, horses for courses, and best of luck with whatever approach you take. For us the opportunity to bed down in some very remote locations and experience the type of terrain that the majority of tourists miss is what we crave.
Getting Away from it All
We tend to avoid staying in organized camping grounds, caravan parks, hotels and roadside rest areas. With a stop where we drop mentality we are usually found parked a few kilometres up a dry creek or perched on the side of a hill.
The real key to finding a quiet place to camp is to find a quiet road to travel on. If you are bouncing from destination to destination, generally there will be more than one way to get there. Often the dirt road can offer an experience not afforded by bitumen and make it far easier to find a place to pull up for the night.
Often just up the road or around the corner from a popular destination can reveal a better location than the designated camping zones for the area. The authorities that control and manage our parks and recreation areas tend to hump everyone together in one manageable group. While sometimes necessary to protect fragile environments more often than not it is about making fee collection and the management of the public easy for rangers etc.
We aren’t encouraging you break laws regarding camping in national and state parks or on rivers and beaches. We do suggest you question signs and directives and attempt to understand who really has the authority to deny access and enforce rules about such things.
A detailed article about 'Roadside Camping' can be found here.
A close friend who works for DEC (Department of Environment and Conservation) recounts the story of a junior department manager who barricades remote roads in local National Parks to minimize his department work load. This manager works largely autonomously, a huge distance from head office. It begs the question of the public having the right of access versus departmental policy.
We recently travelled a well known route to an iconic location that is seasonally closed due to tropical rain. We received a reprimand from one government department for travelling on a closed road without a permit. We had seen no road closure signs and drove on it innocently. On investigation it turned out that the Main Roads Department admitted to failing to erect the signs for the season.
A couple of years ago, in the Southwest of Western Australia, we came across a large sign nailed to a tree. It was the beginning of a sand track to an isolated beach. The sign consisted of a skull and crossbones and threats of legal action or murder upon trespass of this private property. We happen to know that this particular beach is crown land, open to the public and the sign was erected by local squatter/fisherman to scare of prospective explorers. It must have driven off hundreds of potential fisher folk over the years. We spent a delightful evening, completely alone on this beach.
Much of Australia's north is pastoral land, mostly large cattle stations. These stations are also 'Crown Land', leased from the Australian Government and under certain stipulations available to the general public. A polite enquiry at the homestead is often all that it takes to access a private waterhole or a unique hill top vista.
Again we can’t suggest you break laws or trespass in an effort to discover Australia while you are touring, however a questioning attitude and a little confidence may see you visiting areas initially thought to be off limits.
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