Scones, swims and the Self Contained Debate

Kilkivan's cracking free camping area is just behind this sign - but is the region's new RV strategy welcoming all travellers?
Kilkivan's cracking free camping area is just behind this sign - but is the region's new RV strategy welcoming all travellers?

Australia Day is here! We hope you are camping? Here’s some ideas: an SA beach camp oasis, beside a pub in the Victorian High Country or whilst eating scones at a remote Kimberley station! Cool down in a freshwater perched lake and would you like a list of campsites and caravan parks you can swim at? Find all these amazing sites featured in our latest newsletter and in the Camps Australia Wide App, CAMPS Pendium, CAMPS 11 and Caravan Parks guides

There has been a stack of interest re the Gympie RV strategy, Queensland. A councillor in Gympie says the RV Strategy is a plan for “flash vans” and will exclude more than half the RV camping market!

Great news that council sites will be doubled, BUT they will only accept self contained vehicles, with all grey water to be contained, due to “environmental reasons”.

Thank you to everybody who has already emailed council on the strategy. Do councils understand how to attract RV travellers? For instance, why do many towns welcome grey water for their gardens? Will porta potties or potable grey water tanks be acceptable? Why is self contained stipulated when the camp site has toilets? Why is a plumbed in shower essential?

Here’s what our camping commmunity has said about the Self Contained Debate:

  • As a plumber I can confirm the comments regarding the storage of grey water should only be for 24 hours.
    And grey water WAS used extensively on plants during the drought – to the point many older people were injuring themselves carrying shower water out in buckets.

    I don’t have a shower or toilet in my smallish van, however it must be noted that where a greywater tank is fitted, care must be taken to make sure it’s emptied before refilling the water tanks. All vans struggle with weight limits, and this would not help.

    With regard to what the Gympie Council are demanding, I wonder just how serious they are, as reading between the lines, it seems that they are doing what some Councils do best. Put so many conditions upon a project, so that the project never proceeds. Further, ‘businesses’ wanting to limit the number of sites should read ‘business’, as I suggest most businesses would welcome any additional income. The ‘business’ of course would see a free camp as a threat, but should presume to pick up all the non compliant vans anyway.

    I for one though have got the Gympie Council’s message loud and clear, and will not be going anywhere near Gympie.
  • Won’t be staying in the area. What’s wrong with collecting grey water in a sealable container which can be disposed of elsewhere?
  • We have a grey water tank on the front of our van which we can dispose the water in it at a later time.
  • There are so many travellers in the same position. Some towns need to change their views on grey water collection or people will just move on to more friendlier places.
  • We have (an) older van and have a portable tank which catches our water.
  • Sounds good but what if no grey water tank and collect grey water in suitable containers
  • We’ve never had a grey water tank, we use a bucket if necessary or it goes on the ground.
  • We have an older van, we don’t drop any type of water onto the ground using a lidded type bucket for sink water and take it away with us and empty into the dump point with porta potty, but looks like we couldn’t use any of those sites, think we would just move on elsewhere
  • The majority of vans don’t have grey water tanks. More modern ones do. Can usually tell the ones that have grey tanks …….when they leave an area……. they open their valves and let it go ……ie the grey water tanks ……as they drive along.
  • This is not the usual practice of most caravaners. We empty in to dump points which are easy to find
  • I think that the water benefits the soil and trees bushes love it 99% of vans and RV people wipe all their plates and cooking equipment with paper towels BEFOR washing hence no food scraps in water
  • Grey water released properly, and filtered to stop food particles, is good for the soil
  • and yet food scraps go into the compost bin,hard to follow some councils??
  • Water benefits the ground. So many caravan parks ask you to put your waste water on the ground especially in a dry area.
  • It’s fine to do this but is there a dump point near by to empty holding tanks ?
  • It is not difficult to add a grey water tank to your van. It is making sure you have a built in shower and toilet that is another huge issue. Some places do not allow Porta Potties.
  • I have never heard of places not accepting Porta Pottys being used
  • Other councils have done the same so you head off to a caravan park where you run grey water directly onto the ground which makes me believe its not all about the grey water plus where do the people wanting to implement these conditions think people are going to drain there grey water that they’ve stored for a few days that has now be putrid. It’ll end up on the ground & create a real problem. Running grey water into some bushes isn’t a problem, stupid people doing stupid things is a problem & grey water storage won’t fix stupid.
    Edit campers could help by attaching a grey water hose instead of letting it drain where they’re parked.
  • I agree that you need to attach your grey water hose. We also attach a stocking over the end of the hose to catch any solid waste.
  • have read on one EPA site that it illegal to keep grey water for more than one day
  • I believe that grey water stored for 12 to 24 hrs technically becomes black water.
  • Lots of vans don’t have a great water tank, but many of us have other means of capturing our grey water. There are bladders and plastic portable tanks that can be used so maybe the definition needs to be changed for that reason.
  • You can buy portable grey water tanks(BCF have them) These meet the requirements
    All CMCA parks have this requirement but it is to satisfy council conditions. We stayed at a few last year before the rain and they were dry as a chip. The caretakers were bemused as to why the rule was in place
    I don’t see a problem as long as the water is directed by hose away to a suitable place.
  • I totally understand and agree with the banning of Black water, however, Grey water is a Grey area (excuse the pun) and as far as self contained goes, why does it have to be into an onboard holding tank?
    Why can’t it be into a portable container for safe disposal later many trees and shrubs would benefit from it!!
  • when you see beautiful pristine camp sites decimated by thoughtless campers, you can understand why Councils need to restrict types of campers. I don’t own a fully self contained unit so I couldn’t stay here, but I understand their reasoning
  • how is it then that a lot of caravan parks tell you to just dump it on the ground ?
  • I don ‘t have a grey water tank, but I do have a portable tank which I use. This whole thing is totally discriminatory, as long as we do the ‘right’ thing, it should not matter one dot! I am sick of all the rules and regulations that are for those who can afford the latest vans etc. It’s giving a free camp, without giving a free camp – these towns will not get any of my $.
  • Yeh I see what you mean. Must admit I don’t see the difference in a portable gray water tank and a fixed one. But I do see the rubbish people leave behind them unfortunately. There are some real grubs around
  • With drought in many places cannot see any issues to either catch and pour onto plants or onto the ground. 7yrs travelling and have not needed a grey water tank.
  • I have added a grey water tank of 50 litre for shower / wash basin . Kitchen sink is only wash ingredients water with acceptable detergent . And no food scraps. Empty into dump points is easy provided this Gympie park has dump point. Black water must be dumped correctly, that is what Gympie council must address.
  • Wasnt that long ago grey water was used to keep gardens alive, black water absolutely not and grey water left to long in a tank is black water.
  • here is absolutely no reason why Grey water can not be distributed around the grounds at gardens and such.. it is actually good for it ..there is no negatives at all apart from a disillusioned ” greenie” .aspect who would rather people didn’t even breath..
  • I really don’t understand why water is water in dry times plants trees and grass need it
  • I personally give my precious water to any plant that looks like it needs it. I’ve seen people open their taps and drain them whilst travelling. What a friggen waste.
  • What a load of you know what, we don’t have a grey water tank, I dispose of my grey according to where we are e.g., water trees or dry areas of grass, I filter what goes down my drain, what is wrong with this council, we are in a drought country
  • Sorry Gympie, will be bypassing your town
  • Grey water ,shower water is clean and not smelly as long as no food scraps go down ,it’s great for the lawns and trees, it only smells when left in holding tanks.
  • and all soap powder is now environmentally good now and harmless to ground.
  • that’s not entirely true. And what about soaps, shampoos etc. not many environmentally friendly. I only know a few who religiously buy this way, me being one of them. We had a worm farm septic so everything should be “friendly”
  • oh well the ones we buy are and the majority do and use the right stuff, we’ve had many many park owners want the waste water on the ground to water the plants etc.
  • Definitely water on lawns please
  • They should allow water on the garden, trees and lawns. We love camping and looking around towns and spending our money.
  • Grey water is better when let go straight away in holding tank it absolutely stinks after a couple of days in tank and I only use products that are safe
  • Porta potty (black water collection) fresh water tank, dedicated jerry for collecting grey water, on board cooking, sleeping, and porta potty on board. Definition says ‘on board’ not plumbed in. And we have all of these ‘on board’. I’m guessing they would refuse us though.
  • Water lawns and trees makes sense
  • Lived in a very large park in Darwin for 6.5 years and every drop of grey water went on the ground, no environmental problems and no one got sick, but nice green grass
  • All septic systems direct grey water to ground so what’s the problem, get realistic, if grey water is directed to a container and distributed to plants this helps not hinders
  • Put it on the grass
  • I don’t care what rules they implement, If I don’t like their rules I won’t stay there.
  • When drought is on we are all asked to use grey water for lawns and plants so why not utilise this when caravaners are in a grassy camp such as this . Saves the council on water for the grounds .
  • Most caravanners are concerned about the environment and use biodegradable products that do not cause environmental damage.
  • Out of cities where there is no sewerage, laundry water bathroom water and kitchen water have gone on the ground, no environmental damage even without biodegradable products
  • In most areas in WA, shower & washing water is encouraged to be put on surrounding trees and shrubs, not enough “unused” water available for greening!! It fine if the grey water hasn’t been stored for several days, as it then goes stinky and should be disposed in black water areas! Bit of common sense is important in these issues!
  • Wow! With the majority of RVs and campervan not being suitable, they will be struggling to get people in there. What if every camp site adopted this policy? Where would all those vans go? Park in the streets?
  • probably avoid camping in towns, and lose any income that might be included!
  • It’s easy to add a Gray water tank.
    Most vans have toilets and showers these days.
  • I put a 50 ltrs grey water tank under our van for under $80.
  • Grey water is fine on the ground great for trees and grass. Water out of septic tanks that has been treated with chemical gets pumped onto grass and trees legally. Don’t see any problems.
  • We have a portable grey water tank, but exempt having your grey water flowing into a river or creek, then I’m sure it can’t harm trees and native bush. After years of drought the bush needs as much water as they can get. Councils are ridiculous with a lot of their rules. I suppose it makes them feel important
  • Pass on by, if it doesn’t suit
  • If this comes in RV owners will simply bypass the Gympie area. This looks like Greenie’s are influencing the council to reduce the area’s income from RV owners
  • Wouldn’t go near the place if that’s their attitude. A lot of people doing their best to keep people away from Queensland. Nothing wrong with grey water.
  • I agree there is nothing wrong with grey water as long as its directed on to vegetation and not just left to make puddles where people are going to walk or drive. Grey water only becomes toxic when its been stored for 24hrs or more. We’ve been asked in a lot of parks we’ve stayed to put the grey water on trees and plants especially during drought.
  • Cuts out a lot of caravaners & motorhomes. If we are able to contain grey water in suitable tank ie portable grey water tank or plastic 20litre water tank which is emptied in appropriate drain should be quite acceptable & allowed. Yes some showgrounds welcome grey water with chux or similar seive to catch solids.
  • I bought a new Hiace last year already fitted out. I don’t have a holding tank for grey water. Also don’t have shower or toilet. Not able to stay at places which insist on self contained.
  • easy fixed. Boycott the sites. We will.
  • A lot of inconsistencies regarding the definition of self contained. Many parks without drains for grey water and many requesting it be used to water the grounds. Some places stating self contained but allowing camping in tents. All very confusing and a further problem is those campers that do no show respect for anyone or anything.
  • only have a tradies van, but I am fully capable of catching and holding my grey water and bucket wash water in a container that isn’t fitted to my van, to later be emptied out. I also have my own porta loo. It doesn’t take rocket science or big flash vans to comply with self sufficient requirements.
  • You need to remember that councils are run by educated town planners and legislators that love to tick boxes and comply with legislation – that they may or may not have introduced – and struggle with ad hock areas for overnight stays.
    Maybe long drop toilets and shaded areas are all we need, but that is not in the book
  • This is in line with the CMCA fully self contained definition, so I can understand it.

(Comments are from I Love Camping Australia Wide Facebook group and the CAMPS AUSTRALIA WIDE Facebook page)

Other issues include:

  • Plans for infrastructure and understanding what campers want; lack of budget for proposed infrastructure. For instance – the showgrounds should be well equipped to welcome campers, so opened right now! And why not tents, when Gympie does not have a caravan park?
  • Focused categorisation of sites – “local” or “regional” – with differing levels of facilities and features. This strategy may rule out smaller sites (for less than 15 vehicles) or sites that don’t suit Big Rigs. Is this ‘black and white’ approach really meeting the needs of travellers?
  • Business owners asking council for ‘competitive neutrality’ – wanting stricter limits on numbers of campsites in a town, number of sites in a camp area, maximum length of stay, and location of sites.
  • Introducing fees for some sites to be considered


  • More sites, dump points, water points and day parking
  • Longer time limits
  • Including coast (however not the whole coast, and not a site within a town)

Readers have said, “It is worth putting your two bob’s worth in”! and “I made the effort to send an email to the council, More of us need to write to council, I received acknowledgement of my email, too.”

You have until January 31, 2022. Check out our summary and how to respond.

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