Can you sleep in the motorhome while driving in Australia?

In this blog post, we will discuss: Can you sleep in the motorhome while driving in Australia? We will explain what the rules regarding driving a motorhome in Australia are. We will also tell you where you can legally stop and sleep in your motorhome. 

Can you sleep in the motorhome while driving in Australia?

No, as a passenger you cannot sleep in the motorhome while driving in Australia. Each passenger in the moving motorhome has to be seated and wear a seatbelt at all times. Children must be seated in a child seat. 

If you do not want to risk incurring these penalties for not respecting the law, here are the rules that you and your passengers must observe while driving:

  • Occupy only the passenger seats in the cabin;
  • Remain seated in the designated seats during the trip;
  • Fasten your seat belts;
  • Do not use the beds in motion (in particular the lower bunk bed, because if the hatch of the locker below is not closed properly, there is a risk of being thrown out);
  • Do not exceed the number of seats allowed for the passengers.

In this regard, before travelling, always remember to consult the vehicle registration document to be sure of the seats for which your vehicle is approved and how many you can travel by camper.

Even to stop and sleep in a motorhome along the road, it is necessary to respect the rules of conduct. We will see what they are in the next paragraph.

Can you stop and sleep anywhere in Australia with a motorhome?

No, you cannot just stop and sleep anywhere in a motorhome in Australia. You won’t be able to sleep anywhere, even with your motorhome. Usually, parking lots mention a ban. In big cities and relatively busy places, you risk a fine (steep!).

In the following states you cannot camp elsewhere than in a spot camp:

  • Queensland
  • Northern Territory

Where to stop and sleep with a motorhome in Australia

Queensland

Queensland has more than 470 camping spots spread across its parks and forests. In some cases, to camp in a national park or near forests, you need a permit. These campsites in national parks and forests are managed by park rangers.

In Queensland sleeping in a vehicle outside of camping areas is considered illegal. The amount of the fine depends on the regional council and varies depending on which part of Queensland you are in.

The state of Queensland defines camping as:

  • Set up, place a tent, caravan or other structure for the purpose of being used for camping (overnight)
  • Place equipment that can be used for camping or a vehicle in position for the purpose of staying overnight using the vehicle or equipment
  • Leave your vehicle or camping equipment parked overnight, even without supervision
  • Just stay the night

Camping fees in national parks in Queensland:

  • For one person: $ 6.65 per person per night
  • For a student or an accompanying person in an educational setting: $ 3.65 per person per night
  • For a family: $ 26.60 per night. The family rate applies to families of less than 8 people with a minimum of 1 adult and children under 18 years old.

Camping is prohibited in the following cases:

  • In natural areas classified 1 to 3
  • In historical or cultural places
  • In “threatened” or “worrying” regional ecosystems
  • Protected areas for wildlife (breeding area)
  • In the scientific areas of national parks
  • On too steep sites with fragile soil or plant cover sensitive to pollution
  • On a site where the water supply capacity is poor
  • On a site where waste disposal is not satisfactory
  • On a site where natural risks are present

Parks that allow campfires have facilities for this purpose. You must provide your wood and it is forbidden to collect wood in the park to use it for your fire (even dead branches).

New South Wales

In the state of NSW, the majority of national parks have camping areas and some parks allow bush camping.

Sleeping in your vehicle in NSW is allowed and even encouraged to combat fatigue while driving. In town, you have the right to sleep in your vehicle as long as you are parked in a place that allows it. Please note that some areas prohibit parking overnight. Parking in these areas may subject you to a fine or a police check to ask you to move.

Before going camping:

  • Check if the national park is open
  • Check if the national park is not subject to an alert
  • Download the Emergency + application
  • Check the campsite equipment (to provide a stock of water …)
  • Check the weather
  • Check that your camping gear is functional
  • For your safety, it is recommended to fill out a form (Trip Intention Form) and notify a loved one in the following situations:
  • Visit places where the climate is extreme (snow, mountain)
  • Road trip in national parks
  • Risky sports: canyoning, mountain biking, horse riding …
  • Activities on the water: boat, kayak …
  • Camping and visiting remote areas

Tips for being a good camper:

  • Do not camp on low or poorly drained areas where the soil or vegetation can be easily damaged (look for harder or sandy soils)
  • It is advisable to wear sneakers or sand shoes to avoid soil compaction in the areas around the campsite
  • Use the bins available
  • Do not defecate within 100m of a stream and bury them at least 15cm deep
  • Do not play music at high volume so as not to disturb other users of the campsite and the wildlife
  • Bring your own wood for the fire
  • Do not feed wild animals.

Victoria

Sleeping in your vehicle in Victoria is not illegal but very limited. The rules are specific to each region of Victoria. It is already prohibited in the following areas: Hobsons Bay, Greater Geelong, or Manningham.

To camp in some national parks, you must make a reservation in advance. You can make your reservation online or by phone at the “Visitor Information Center”.

For camping in Victoria National Park, fees apply. The fees vary depending on the season and your booking method. In some cases, it is cheaper to make the reservation online or by phone than to buy a pass directly on site. For more details see the fees for each park.

The fees are higher during the high season, i.e. from the start of the Melbourne Cup to the end of February, during the Easter holidays, during the December and January holidays, on the Labor Day weekend ( March 8), and Anzac Day weekend (April 25).

During the middle season, the costs decrease. This period runs from November to the end of April these charges only apply for weekdays except March where weekends are included. Easter and September holidays do not count.

The fees are lower during the low season i.e. from May 1st until the start of the Melbourne Cup (November).

Northern Territory

Most of the campsites in the North are well equipped (toilets, showers, garbage cans, barbecues, tables).

Most campsites operate on an honesty system. You have to pay for entry by putting the money in a box.

South Australia

Sleeping in a motorhome outside a campsite is not prohibited in South Australia. However there are some limitations, for example, some areas around beaches and parks do not allow camping.

Tasmania

Sleeping in your motorhome outside a campsite is not illegal in Tasmania.

In Australia, there are three or even four ways of camping: the caravan park, the rest area, the spot camp, and wild camping:

Paid areas: Campsites (or “caravan park”)

The caravan park or campsite will offer you all the amenities: showers, toilets, washing machines, kitchens, some even have a TV room or swimming pool… They are very common in Australia and are mostly indicated by blue signs on the road.

Paid camp spots: Some camp spots are indeed sometimes paying, but inexpensive. In general, as soon as the spot is located in a tourist area (generally national), areas are made available to travellers for a few dollars a night.

The prices are quite variable depending on the location, the type of site (tent /motorhome) and the amenities. Although they are usually limited, you will usually find water and dry toilets (sometimes showers and electricity).

Free areas: The rest areas or “rest areas” are suitable for people who just want to stop to sleep and get back on the road the next day. Free, the amenities they offer vary widely: most often toilets (sometimes dry) and water (not always drinkable), sometimes even showers. They are placed on the side of the road and can be noisy, especially if they are accessible to heavy goods vehicles.

Wild camping: Wild camping is the height of freedom (except that you will not have access to drinking water, let alone a shower or toilet). This type of camping is prohibited, whether in a tent or in a motorhome, you should normally set up the bivouac only if it is clearly authorized. You risk a fine, often hefty. 

Many Australians are fond of it, however, and will assure you that by being far enough from places of passage and if you respect the place, no one will disturb you. This is at your own risk!

Our advice

Falling asleep in a motorhome can be dangerous for both the driver and the passenger. If you feel tired it is always best to pull over! And here are a few tips on camping in Australia with a motorhome:

  • Respect the environment
  • Choose a good spot to sleep
  • Watch out for food. 
  • Even in Australia, the nights are sometimes chilly, so don’t hesitate to pack several blankets. Even if space can sometimes be scarce in a motorhome, nothing worse than sleeping in the cold! 

Do you have any questions, comments or tips on the content? Please let us know!

FAQ on Can you sleep in the motorhome while driving in Australia?

Can you travel in the back of a motorhome without seatbelts?

The answer is no, you can’t travel in the back of a motorhome without seatbelts as long as the vehicle is moving. Even though you may not consider it dangerous, the law obliges you to wear the seatbelt even as a passenger in the back of an RV. 

Can you drink in an RV?

You can drink in an RV as long as you are not the driver, do not plan on driving the RV, and you are parked at a campsite. Needless to say, it is illegal and a criminal offence to drink and drive. It is legal to drink behind the driver as long as no containers, empty or not, are within reach of the driver.

Where to stop with a motorhome?

A motorhome can stop in town in a parking space and spend the night there. It does not matter whether the motorhome operators are on board or not, as long as they comply with the regulations.

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