Campervan parking rules Australia
Brush up on where and how you should park your motorhome
Ever dreamed of a road trip in the Land Down Under? Rolling around Australia in a trusty vehicle that combines transport and accommodation into one intrepid package?
You are not alone! Hiring a campervan in Australia is a tried-and-true ticket to adventure. With so many miles of road—from highways to byways to Outback arterial routes— traversing this vast and varied nation, there’s no better way to explore.
Motorhomes are an ideal option for travellers with a bit of wanderlust. There’s something for any type of nomad, with rentals covering a broad spectrum from large RV-style motorhomes to small and compact sleeper vans. However, if you’re planning to hit the highways of Oz, you should come prepared with some knowledge of how things work.
Knowing the rules of the road is very important, of course. Safe driving is vital to a smooth and enjoyable journey. But what happens when the driving is done? Parking your motorhome in the right place and without incident is a crucial aspect of a journey that’s memorable for all the right reasons.
These are our top tips and advice for motorhome parking in Australia. Read on and arm yourself with knowledge for a successful trip in this fantastic and fascinating country.
Parking rules and signage: Where can I park my campervan in Australia?
In this section, we’re not talking about wild camping or overnight parking. Rather, we’re discussing the rules and regulations for temporary parking. If you’re stopping during the day to visit an attraction, do some shopping, or just take a wander, you’ll need to know these parking restrictions.
These apply to all vehicles and will be regularly enforced, particularly in more built-up areas where parking is at a premium. Always check carefully to ensure that you’re parking your motorhome somewhere that’s legal and safe.
The following are some basic pointers to guide you in your parking endeavours:
- Parking signage in Australia is usually white with forest green text that describes how long you can park for and at what times. You might also see a red and white “NO STOPPING” sign, or a “P” with a line through it—these both indicate that parking is not allowed.
- The number before the “P” is the time you can park for, expressed in hours. For example, “2P” means you can park for two hours in the area indicated by the sign. A 30-minute period would be indicated by “½P” or “30 MINUTE PARKING”.
- If the sign says “TICKET” or “METER”, you will be required to pay for parking. Look for a parking meter! Payment may be taken in cash, with a card, or via an app, depending on the type of meter.
- You should not park where there are signs indicating a clearway, loading zone, bus zone, works zone, or taxi zone.
- You should always park your vehicle so that it faces in the same direction as the traffic on that side of the road.
- Broken or continuous yellow lines next to the curb indicate that you are not allowed to park.
Some parking rules, such as the distance you must leave between your parked vehicle and intersections, will depend on the state. Do some specific research about your destination before you arrive and come prepared.
The penalty for parking infringements is generally a fine. The amount will vary according to the infringement. That’s not something you want to work into your holiday budget, so park carefully!
Free camping: Where can I stay overnight without paying?
Fond of overnight camping? Free camping is permitted in Australia, but there are extensive limitations to this. You certainly can’t just park up on the side of the road anywhere and spend the night. For any type of free camping, it’s a good idea to hire a self-contained motorhome. Having all the essentials onboard makes you less reliant on public facilities.
The rules for free camping will vary from state to state and depend on each local council, so look these up before you travel. The best way to go is to find places that are specifically designated as free campsites, so there’s no uncertainty.
Here are a few general pointers:
Look for rest areas
These facilities beside highways often allow free camping like bush camps. If you can find one that’s scenic, quiet, and has public toilets available, you’ve hit the jackpot! Note that you can generally only stay for up to 24 hours, and should always look out for signs saying that camping is prohibited—in which case, of course, you’ll have to move on.
Check the rules for national parks
Some of Australia's national parks allow you to free camp, while others charge a small fee—which is great value for travellers and helps to maintain these beautiful spaces. If you’re happy to mix free and low-cost campsites, national parks are the way to go. And of course, they’re ideal for campers who love the outdoors and want to experience Australia’s incredible flora and fauna. Imagine waking up to wallabies on your doorstep!
Booking may be required, even for free sites. Take a look at the national park websites for each state to get the most up-to-date information and plan your trip.
Download some apps
There are several apps available that will help you to find free (or paid) camping spots in Australia. The following ones are popular and well-rated:
- Travellers Autobarn App
- New South Wales National Parks App (if that’s your destination state)
Some of these are available for free, while others have a small charge. It’s generally well worth the cost to have a reliable app telling you where you can save a lot of money on camping fees.
For more detailed information on free camping in Australia, check out our guide!
“ The places in which you choose to stay will depend on your travel style ”
Types of paid campsite: Where else can I park my campervan for the night?
There is a wide array of paid campsite options throughout Australia, giving travellers plenty of choice when it comes to where they park their campervan for the night. These generally need to be booked in advance, particularly during peak travel periods.
Some low-cost campsites are very basic, with nothing but a long drop toilet (latrine). Other (higher-cost) ones are fully decked out with playgrounds, pools, kitchens, and more. The places in which you choose to stay will depend on your travel style; we’ve described a few of the different types below so you know what to expect and what to look for as you make plans for your Australia camping adventure.
National park, state forest, and similar campgrounds
These campsites are perfect for intrepid and adventurous travellers looking for a safe spot in which they can legally park their motorhome for the night. Usually bookable online, they are often basic but quite scenic and close to the best outdoor recreation Australia has to offer. Some may have hot showers while others don’t even have flushing toilets—so check the details and find the sites that work for your sensibilities.
Scraping the side of your campervan or damaging another car is a good way to put a damper on your holiday. To avoid that, check out our practical parking tips!
- Always be aware of the size of your campervan. It may take a few days to become accustomed, so be extra cautious as you acclimatise.
- If you’re in a city, you may want to park in parking buildings. Make sure you memorise the height of your vehicle and compare it against the signs which indicate the maximum height allowed.
- Avoid parking on mud or wet grass. You might regret it when the time comes to move on! It’s hard to visually judge how soft the ground is, and it’s very easy to get stuck in a heavy vehicle like a motorhome.
- Consider how easy it will be to get out of a space you have maneuvered into—particularly if you will have to do so in reverse.
- Be courteous and park at the back of a supermarket or shopping mall parking lot where it is less crowded. This is particularly important in a big vehicle that takes up more than one space.
- Employ a campervan parking wingman! If you are travelling with someone else, you can agree on some hand signals and have them get out of the vehicle to guide you into a tight spot.
- If you’re parking up for the night somewhere without marked sites, make sure you’re not on a slope. Even a slight incline will become noticeable once you lie down to sleep.
- Safety first! When you are leaving your motorhome parked and unattended, you should always lock up—no matter the location or the length of time you’ll be gone. A lot of your belongings are in there, in addition to many things belonging to the rental supplier. Dealing with the admin of a police report is not the kind of eventfulness you want for your road trip.
Ready to book?
Now you’re equipped with the knowledge of where and how to park in Australia, it’s time for some motorhome exploring! The expert GoSee team can help you to find the motorhome rental that suits your plans, and we have some great itinerary ideas to get the creative travel juices flowing.