CAMPING ETIQUETTE

 

Camping in Western Australia

 

 

 

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Enjoying the outdoors is all about respect. Respect for the environment and respect for other campers.

There has been a big surge in people hitting the road and travelling Australia since 2020 when Covid struck and many will not be aware that there are a lot of unwritten rules about camping that help to make things easier and more enjoyable for everyone.

This is all about learning to behave in ways that make life more enjoyable for everyone who goes camping and helping to ensure that campsites stay open.

The first camping rule you need to know is:

LEAVE NO TRACE

The well worn saying goes; Ďleave nothing but footprints, take nothing but memories.í Leave your campsite clean and tidy for the next person to enjoy.

If others have left some rubbish around, then take a few minutes to pick it up and bag it for later disposal. While it sucks to have to clean up mess made by some thoughtless people, doing this means that campsites are not only far more attractive for everyone, but they are much less likely to be closed down by the authorities.

Donít bury rubbish. Animals can dig it up and spread it around so take it away and dispose of it properly.

The next subject and one of the most important in a land as dry and hot as Australia is:

FIRE

Always put campfires out with water and make sure they are really out. Property and lives are lost regularly because someone just left a campfire to burn itself out. Huge areas of bush are burned to the ground and thousands of native animals are burned to death because people are careless with campfires.

We have arrived at campsites where a pile of ashes look like they are cold and the fire is out BUT on closer inspection we have found hot glowing charcoal just under the surface. One one occasion this was a matter of a couple of feet away from a lake with UNLIMITED WATER!

If a child walked over a fire like this then they would end up in hospital and if a vehicle parked on top of the ashes, at the very least it would result in a destroyed tyre and could result in the entire vehicle burning.

Donít put things into fires that wonít burn. Glass and tin DOES NOT BURN in a campfire. Putting these things in a fire pit is the same as littering. PLEASE put them in your rubbish bag, take them away and dispose of them properly.

Obey campfire restrictions. Australia burns every summer and we need to do everything we can to reduce the risk of bushfires.

Some campsites do not allow fires at ANY time of year and others allow fires only during the cooler months.

It is vital to obey all rules relating to fires. Lighting a campfire during a fire ban is a criminal act and if caught you are likely to face time in prison if property has been damaged or people killed.

Donít put campfires where they smoke out your neighbours. If you have a campfire, keep an eye on where the smoke is going and try not to make fires that smoke too much. Avoid using leaves and wet wood and consider putting the fire out if it is making too much smoke and disturbing other campers.

Bring your own wood and avoid collecting natural wood. In many places now it is illegal to collect and burn wood from areas around campsites.

Fallen wood and dead trees are essential homes for native marsupials and birds.

Bring your own wood or charcoal with you to a campsite.

Use fire pits where they are provided. In many campsites there are concrete fire rings. Please use them in preference to building fire pits from rocks etc.

Making new fire pits all over the places means that the area gets covered in ash. It is much better to keep the ash contained in existing fire pits.

Place fires in sensible places. We have seen fires that have been lit in the middle of turning circles where vehicles need to drive. Please put fires off to the side of a cleared area and leave room for vehicles, especially bigger ones, to turn without having to drive over the ash pit.

Now we have to tackle a subject that some people find unpleasant and difficult to discuss; toilet waste.

 

Camping in Western Australia

 

TOILET

The best way to deal with black waste, IE toilet waste, is to use a Porta Potty style toilet. Many campground are now making this a mandatory item to take with you when you go camping.

If you use a portable toilet then PLEASE donít empty the waste into a long-drop toilet or other toilet system that relies on natural means to break down the waste.

Chemicals used in portable toilets destroy the bacteria necessary to break down the waste in these systems and cause major problems.

Dispose of black waste like this in a proper dump point. There are many of these disposal sites around W.A. now so there is no excuse not to use them.

If you are out in more remote areas then make sure you take a long handled shovel with you and dig a deep hole for black waste disposal.

Keep black waste away from water sources like rivers and streams.

While we are on the subject of poop, please make sure you clean up after your dog in campsites.

Stepping in dog poo is not a pleasant experience and you could find your pooch has been banned from the site the next time you want to go camping if you continue to allow barkerís eggs to accumulate on the ground. The next section deals with getting to and selecting a campsite and the things you should avoid doing.

CAMPSITE

Donít camp on top of others if you have a choice. If there are plenty of sites available and you have a choice, pick a site that isnít right on top of someone else.

We have had this happen to us a number of times and it is not appreciated.

Camp in areas that have already been cleared. Not only is it easier for you, it is much better for the natural environment.

Donít camp on top of water sources used by animals. When you are selecting an area to camp near a water source, give some consideration to how native animals and stock get access to the water.

If you camp too close or on existing animal tracks, you will block animals from coming in to get a drink.

Try to arrive at camp in daylight. Arriving at camp in the dark is never appreciated by other campers. Please make all efforts to arrive at your chosen campsite before dark. Of course if you are camping somewhere that nobody else is using then arrive any time you like but for campsites with other campers, it is bad form to rock up after dark and start making a lot of noise. If you have no choice but to arrive at night, keep noise to a minimum.

When unloading your gear, PLEASE leave you vehicle doors open until you a done. Listening to car doors being opened and shut multiple times for no good reason is certainly going to upset your neighbours.

If it is safe to do so, turn your vehicleís headlights off and use your vehicleís side lights.

Never camp in a river bed. It doesnít matter how dry it looks or how clear the sky is, rain can fall a long distance away and water come rushing down the river and if it hits your camp in the darkness, you are going to be in serious trouble.

Donít use soap or detergent within 50 metres of a stream or dam. This will pollute the water and kill native animals that need the water to live.

Donít walk through other peopleís campsites. This is a BIG NO NO in all campsites.

Someoneís camp is like their lounge room, donít walk through it, go around.

There are now many campsites in W.A. that cater specifically for self-contained vehicles. If you are NOT self contained then find somewhere else to to spend the night. Ignoring this rule will end up with these sites being closed down.

A lot of free camps may have existing facilities so donít block them. We have seen local fire brigade sheds located in areas people are allowed to free camp. It is very important not to block access to these facilities as they could be needed at any time.

Areas like dams are often used by locals for recreation. Make sure you leave space for them to get in or your might just find the campsite becomes unavailable.

If there is a donation box, leave a donation. Facilities made available for travellers cost money for the local community to maintain. It is always nice to leave a donation if you are asked to as it helps keep the sites maintained.

If the site is free then think about buying fuel and supplies at the nearest town, or having lunch or dinner at the local hotel or cafe, to thank the locals for making great free sites available.

Slow down when driving in campsites. Walking pace is fast enough. There are often children playing and not paying attention to vehicles. Driving slowly reduces the risk of nasty accidents.

Donít leave food scraps around that attract animals. Everything from ants to foxes and dingoes can be attracted to a site where food scraps are left out.

It is always best to bag all scraps and store them away from where local animals might gain access to them.

Try to be out of the campsite at a reasonable time. Other people will be coming in and looking for somewhere to set up so if there are no rules about when you have to vacate a site, try and be gone by 10 or 11 am at the latest.

 

Camping in Western Australia

 

NOISE

One of the biggest complaints many campers have is excessive noise.

It is almost exclusively generated by groups of young males who are out to Ďhave a good timeí. Unfortunately their Ďgood timeí tends to be a miserable time for everyone who is camped around them.

Bottom line is, if you want to go out with a group of mates and blow off some steam and make a lot of noise, do it a long way from other people who are out in the bush to enjoy some peace and quiet.

Other noise in campsites that isnít on this extreme level can be dealt with simply by having a bit of common sense.

Keep generator use to a minimum and donít run cables out so your generator is closer to your neighbours than it is to you. If there are rules governing the use of generators on a campsite them follow them so that others will know when the site will be quiet.

If there are no rules then try not to start gennies before 8am and turn them off after 9pm at the latest.

Keep all noise to an absolute minimum after 10 pm. People with kids need to get the to sleep and a lot of older people go to bed around that time.

If you sit up talking, keep your voices low. There are some people who seem incapable of talking without shouting. Learn to do otherwise and be kind to others around you.

TV noise can also be an issue. If the windows of your vehicle are open then you need to turn the volume down so that it doesnít travel at night.

Vehicles these days are coming with outside speakers, again be aware of how loud you have these things and try to keep the noise restricted to your own campsite at night.

Following are some guidelines for being a kind and thoughtful traveller.

 

Camping in Western Australia

 

GENERAL BEHAVIOUR

When walking around at night in a campsite, keep torches pointed down and avoid shining them into other peopleís camps.

Use existing tracks, donít bush bash and make new ones.

Leave all gates as you find them when travelling in station country. Stock may need access to water or be fenced off for one reason or another so if a gate is open when you reach it leave it open, if it is closed, close it again after you go through.

Keep off unsealed roads after rain. Driving on wet unsealed roads chews them up so that others cannot use them for a long time. You may even be fined for the cost of repairing a road if you chew it up after is has been closed.

If you break down, stay with your vehicle. This is a universal rule. A vehicle provides shade and resources and is much easier for searchers to find. This is more of a safety rule than and etiquette one but it s worth mentioning here.

Donít dump grey water where it is prohibited. Grey water is the water from washing up, from showers and from clothes washing. It contains detergents, food waste and oil. If the rules of the campsite specify no grey water dumping on the ground then use a container to collect it and dispose of it in a dump point.

Try to buy fuel and supplies in local towns where the community provides good facilities for travellers. It is a way to say Ďthank youí to the local shire and businesses for the things they make available to travellers.

Donít interfere with wildlife. Let wild animals get on with their lives and avoid disturbing them. We have seen parents stand and watch while their children throw rocks at ducks and other unfortunate birds. This is simply unacceptable. Leave wildlife alone! Donít feed bread to ducks as it is harmful.

When filling up with water at a tap or dumping black waste, donít stand and talk to someone else for half an hour when you are finished if others are waiting.

We have experienced this ourselves and literally had to push in to get to a tap where two sets of travellers had deiced to have a nice long talk while their big 4x4s and caravans blocked access to the water tap.

Least but by no means least comes:

DOGS AND CHILDREN

Keep your dogs under control and donít allow them to wander around campsites. They are not only a nuisance to other campers, there are instances where dogs have been hit by cars because they were running around uncontrolled.

Donít tie your dog up and leave it to bark. I canít believe how many times we have seen a dog that has been left tied up outside a caravan while its owners have gone off into town to do something.

The dog is in an unfamiliar place and proceeds to bark at anything that moves and does so continually for hours at a time. All dogs bark sometimes but allowing it to continue unchecked for more than a few minutes is going to make you very unpopular.

Donít be one of these people! It isnít the dogís fault, it is the actions of very inconsiderate owners that lead to situations like this.

Donít take your dog in to a national park. National parks generally prohibit dogs because they are places of protection for native wildlife. Domestic animals have no place there so please do the right thing and do not take them in.

Be VERY aware that 1080 baits are used in W.A. and they are LETHAL to pets. Keep your dog on a lead and do not allow it to pick up and eat anything from the ground. 1080 baits can be present in areas that are NOT SIGNPOSTED.

I know it is already mentioned previously but I will say it again, make sure you clean up after your dog. Have a ready supply of plastic bags and collect their poop.

Donít let your children scream at the tops of their voices when they are playing. Kids are kids and left to themselves will generally make as much noise as they can. They get over-excited and as a result disturb others who are trying to enjoy some peace and quiet.

I bit of noise is fine and most people understand that kids need to play, just donít let it become excessive or go on for too long.

Donít let your children play ball games around other peopleís vehicles. It is mind numbingly infuriating to have your vehicle constantly hit by a ball being kicked or thrown around by children. Keep an eye on what your kids are up to and make sure they play in open spaces away from other camperís vehicles.

Donít let your kids run through other peopleís campsites. Someoneís campsite is in every way their own private property while they are using it. You wouldnít want someone wandering through your lounge room at home, so donít allow this behaviour on campsites.

Donít let your children approach strange dogs. Different dogs have very different personalities and your kids need to know that it is not safe to walk up to a strange dog. Dogs may be perfectly friendly normally but in the strange environment of a campsite, they can become territorial and feel the need to defend Ďtheir patchí.

Yes, I know there is a lot to take in here, but this is an attempt to set down things that every camper should be aware of.

Following these guidelines will make camping so much better for everyone who enjoys getting out into the bush.

 

 

 

 

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