What’s known elsewhere in the world as wild camping, dispersed camping, or freedom camping is (also) known in Australia as bush camping.
For those unfamiliar with the aforementioned terms, they all essentially mean that you’re camping outside a designated camping area (there’s a fine line between this and homelessness).
As much as I would like to tell you that I am capable of conquering the sometimes massive distances between Outback outposts, I cannot (but I can get close). Therefore, bush camping has been a big part of my two-wheeled journey across Australia.
And why bush? Because that’s what Aussies call the wilderness down under: the bush.
Further south (between Melbourne and Port Augusta) it was not uncommon to find rest areas equipped with running water, shelter from the rain, and (if I was really lucky) sometimes even an outlet (or power point as it’s called here).
However, I left “further south” behind quite some time ago, and since my transition into “barren Mad Max wasteland,” these amenities have become quite scarce.
When I find myself explaining that I’m “riding my bike from Melbourne to Darwin,” at least of half of all people ask, “So where do you sleep?” and a further half of this sample will ask, “Do you just pull over on the of the road?”
The answer to the first question? In the bush.
The answer to the second? Yes. That’s exactly what I do – pull over and sleep on the side of the road.
Camping along the Stuart Highway (the road between Port Augusta and Darwin) is easy if you don’t require (or are not able to) access any luxuries outside what you’re carrying.
My strategy? Find a place out of sight of the highway (because headlights and because people) – note: this will sometimes require pushing your bicycle through deep sand – set up tent, camp.
I’m not 100% clear on what the laws are (or even if there are any out here), but I would be surprised to find law enforcement officers hassling bicyclists along this route (just stay out of the way of cars and away from anywhere that is obviously private land).
I have yet to have an encounter with the law (or any strangers in the night, for that matter).
If truly solitary camping is not your thing, then it is relatively easy to reach a rest area each night. However, said area may simply be a paved space for cars to pull off the highway. Expect to be woken by cars entering/leaving throughout the night.
The WikiCamps app (iOS/Android) has been a valuable resource in finding campsites, and even though it’s gear more towards people with cars or caravans, I have found it to be hugely useful.
Now that I’m getting further north, the only thing I need to worry about when it comes to bush camping is the water. The crocodile-infested water.
And snakes (of which I’ve seen none).
- START: Pine Creek, Northern Territory
- END: Bridge Creek, Northern Territory
- DAY’S DISTANCE: 39.68 mi / 63.86 km
- TOTAL DISTANCE: 2,334.64 mi / 3,757.24 km