For the last 9 months, Ben and I have been travelling around Australia in our car. Using the most valuable app to any backpacker in Australia, Wikicamps, we find and stay in free campsites as much as possible. Now these free ‘campsites’ can range from car parks and gravel rest stops on highways to full blown grassy campsites with showers and toilets, it’s the most amazing thing ever! But as most things free, it can also attract a stranger crowd… We have encountered our fair share crazy people, but these guys really stick in our minds, I’m not too sure why though?!
- The Man With 7 Dogs
This campsite was behind a BP Petrol Station with showers, toilets and grass – yay. Apart from one other guy in a teeny tiny caravan we had the place to ourselves. In true camping spirits, we got chatting to our neighbour – it may have been the two little puppies he had running around that drew us to him… A little while into the ‘chatting’ the pups started bombing towards us followed by their mum. And their dad. And 3 other intimidating dogs. We are dog lovers, but also wary of dogs we don’t know. And these dogs looked scary, but at the same time impressive. They were Bull Arabs, an Australian breed used for feral pig hunting. So we spent about 2 hours or so chatting and questioning this nomad about his dogs who shared his half size caravan with him. He was lovely, and you could tell he really loved these dogs. Great evening. When we woke up however, we said our good mornings to which he seemed puzzled. He had no idea who we were, didn’t remember talking to us and started to tell us all the things he had told us the night before. Either we had mutually dreamed this happened or someone had a very clouded memory!
- The Man Who Wanted To Share A Beer At 2am
This local pub allowed people to camp for free on a small patch of land behind them, where again apart from a caravan we were alone. The caravan looked as though it hadn’t been touched in years, run down and a bit gross so we actually thought we did have the place to ourselves. That was until 2am, I awoke looking out the window with a guy staring in at us (no more than 50cm from my face, luckily the window was shut). Then he started tapping on the window half shouting if we wanted to have a tinny (can of beer) with him. Yep that’s exactly what we want to do, get woken up in the middle of the night to share a beer with a drunk, crazy stranger looking through our car window.
- The Man Who Liked To Wee In Front Of People
So Tasmania seems to be the place to go if you have a fetish for being weed in front of! This campsite was a gravel car park with a park around the sides. It was pretty big and there weren’t many cars so it was a bit unnecessary for this guy to park right next to us. He was just sitting in front seat for an hour or so, but kept looking towards our car, in which we were snuggled up watching a film. Just before going to sleep, we did our usual routine, get out the car and brush our teeth. Obviously hearing us opening the doors, he looked up, waited a few minutes then opened his door and got out, whacked his willy out and started weeing – literally a meter away facing us. WEIRD. Then at 5am he turned his car on, tested how loud his speakers could go and then just sat there blaring out crazily loud music for 10 minutes then left. Maybe he was crazy, or maybe looking for an argument, or maybe he was just blind and deaf, who knows!
- The Man Who Thought He Was Undercover Police
I think this guy is our favourite crazy of the 6. To cut a long story short… Whilst at a campsite in the Gold Coast, I saw a man in a land cruiser (meet LC man) drive drunk into the back of a fisherman’s van (meet FM man). After arguing for a while, LC man decided arguing wasn’t getting him anywhere so whacked out his knife… I know, it escalated pretty quick! Luckily no one got hurt in the writing of this blog… It was all for show. He then came over to me and gave me his car keys so when the police arrived he couldn’t get nicked for drink driving. The police didn’t actually do anything, maybe gave them a warning but it was still very good afternoon entertainment for a nosey person like me! Fast forward to the evening when LC man walks over to Ben and I with a watermelon in one arm and a bullet proof vest in the other. He started telling us how he is an undercover police man, and the vest is his proof. The vest looked as though he had written POLICE with Word Art, printed it and stuck it on with sellotape. The Aussie police must be cutting costs. Next he gives us the watermelon (it’s already half eaten by the way) as a sorry for the commotion earlier gift. Yummm.
- The Man Who Stole Our Number Plate Then Injected Himself
Ben and I sadly didn’t get the chance to meet this charming man (assuming it’s a man because it fits with the theme of crazy men!). We stayed on the outskirts of Melbourne in a car park of a park. We were the only ones there, but all night cars would drive in and meet another car, both with their lights off in the middle of the night… I smell something fishy… Probably drug dealing. Ice is a big problem here in Aus, maybe because it’s so hot here they think it will cool them down (what even is ice?!). So we woke up in the morning to the lovely surprise of needles laying around the car. Someone must have had a nice evening. We then noticed we no longer had our rear number plate! So during our sleep in the car, someone managed to unscrew and steal it. Rather than the beach, the police station was our first stop that morning. Turns out it happens a lot, and it now gives us a good excuse if we get any fines – yeah our licence plate was stolen so it wasn’t our car ;). (This has come in handy once, but we don’t actually think it was our car).
- The Petrol Sniffer
This guy roamed the same campsite as LC man in the Gold Coast, so maybe this place should probably be avoided. We stayed here for 4 nights, and every day this young but aged guy would walk around with a water bottle pushed to his mouth and nose. It was empty bar a tiny amount of this yellow liquid. Petrol. All day he would walk around sniffing it up. He would then find an angry looking metal pole and fight it, punches and all. These poor poles couldn’t put up a fight. He would then wander around trying to chat to the campers, who would politely ignore him. One day we were sitting at the picnic table eating when he walks over to us, bends down and pulls out a weed from the ground. Grasping it in a similar manner to when proud children hold out flowers to their playground crush in films, he hands me this weed. Very thoughtful. It was more flowery than the (lack of) flowers I have received from Ben for a while (maybe he should take notes). And off he went, to fight another metal post!
Tips For Safely Staying At Free Campsites
- Always read the reviews on Wikicamps first, and take bad reviews seriously.
- Make sure someone knows where you are staying.
- Keep your car doors locked and windows shut (there have been stories of weird men putting their arms through open car windows and grabbed the boobs of the sleeping girls).
- If someone is making you feel uncomfortable, stay in the car and drive away.
- Be-friend your neighbours if you have any, if you have to fight a crazy land cruiser man, at least have an army of neighbours backing you up!