While caravans and motorhomes are fun to use on vacations, it can be sometimes difficult to look for places to legally park. Some motorhome users and owners may not be even aware of the legal parking requirements for their travel buddies. If you are unsure of all the legalities, don’t worry we’ve put together this post to explain all the rules.
Parking your motorhome or caravan on public streets is okay but under three general conditions. First, the street’s parking sign is followed. Second, the parking sign restrictions are as per and compliant with the Australian Road Rules and Council regulations. Lastly, as long as you don’t use your recreational facilities while the vehicle is parked. Nonetheless, there are state-specific rules especially for large motorhomes and for residential parking.
In general, the Australian Road Rules specify the uniform parking regulations in all of Australia. That includes parking signs, offset distances, parking tickets, etc. However, each state/territory and the local council may have additions to the regulations, particularly for heavy or long vehicles*. And we will discuss these below, plus tips on where else you can park your RV or caravan.
*Warning: The definition of “heavy” and/or “long” vehicles may vary per local government unit.
Parking Rules for Motorhome, Campervan and Caravan
Since campervans typically have a gross vehicle mass (GVM) of 4.5t or less, the general parking rules for vehicles apply. Please note the sections below as applicable where needed.
Motorhomes and Caravans
Hitch your towing vehicle with one caravan/trailer only.
|Useful Tip: Do not leave your caravan unsecured. Unhitched caravans are prone to theft.|
Unless otherwise specified or with additional conditions/provisions, this section applies to motorhomes or caravans:
- with a GVM of more than 4.5t (a.k.a. “heavy vehicles”), and/or
- at least 7.5m long (a.k.a. “long vehicles”) – for caravans, this includes the length of the towing vehicle
In addition to the general parking rules, you can park your heavy/long vehicle in built-up areas for a maximum of 1 hour only, unless:
- You are picking up or dropping off goods during the entire extended parking period, or
- You are carrying out emergency work, or
- The parking sign says otherwise, or
- You have a valid permit that allows you to park otherwise
Now this list is not exhaustive. It’s better if you could check the website of your local council and especially search for “heavy vehicle parking”.
|STATE / TERRITORY||REQUIREMENT|
A “long vehicle” includes also a towing vehicle or caravan which, when unhitched, is at least 5m.
A “heavy vehicle” includes also a towing vehicle or caravan which, when unhitched, has a GVM of at least 3t. (Practically all vehicle-caravan combinations!)
It is illegal to camp overnight on a road or park, including sleeping in your vehicle.
|Registered vehicles with a GVM of <4.5t or length of < 7.5m can park on residential streets for an unlimited time.|
|A vehicle-caravan combination (parked or not) must NOT EXCEED 2.5m wide, 4.3m high and 19m long.|
|Parking at night
If your vehicle is not clearly visible from a 200m distance, then you should leave your front and rear parking lights lit. And if your vehicle is ≥ 2.2m wide, then leave your clearance and side marker lights alight too.
Acquire first a Development consent if your vehicle is of GVM ≥3 tonnes.
You do NOT need a separate parking fee for your hitched caravan.
Commercial vehicles that are >6m long, >2.6m high, and of GVM >3.75t shall not be parked on residential land with multi-unit housing.
A “heavy vehicle” has a GVM of >4.5t, is >7.5m long, AND is used for commercial purposes.
Residential Parking for Heavy Vehicles
Since we need to also cater to users with special parking needs, there are special permits for them. For example,
- A vehicle owner who does not have a parking lot. It would be wiser for them to acquire a resident parking permit to unlimited park across the street of their residence.
- A vehicle owner with a disabled family member. They can get a mobility permit to ease some parking restrictions for them.
Visit your local council to learn more about the type of permits available in your area. To see an example of other types of permits, visit Brisbane’s site for a good overview.
Where can I park my caravan or motorhome?
If you want to actually park and camp/rest, there are plenty of options for your caravan or RV:
RVers and caravanners choose rest areas the most because they’re usually free, open 24/7 and equipped with basic amenities – toilet and picnic tables, for instance. There are certain limitations though, such as a maximum overnight stay and a general avoidance of pitching tents. Visit the Roadside Rest Areas blog to know more.
Caravan parks and camping sites
Now, these are the ideal venues for RVs and caravans while on vacation, most are not free. But they are fully equipped with camping needs. These are usually located in national/state/regional parks, beach camps or bush camps.
You just need to thoroughly plan beforehand so you can efficiently switch between free and paid camping/parking sites.
Driver Reviver sites and RV friendly towns
These are a result of community campaigns to accommodate or freshen up RVers and caravanners through:
- a free parking space, coffee and biscuits (in the case of Driver Reviver sites)
- affordable parking and camping sites (in the case of RV friendly towns)
Service Centres and Petrol Stations
Obviously, you cannot camp out in these spots, but you can park for a short time to rest.
Country towns and roadhouses
Many country towns are also part of the RV Friendly scheme and can be a great place to park up and explore the local area. But roadhouses can be spread out between towns and are a must stop for fuel and supplies. Many of these businesses offer camping areas at affordable fees and for longer stay periods. So you might want to consider these options.
Breaking bad norms
You may already be aware of the basic parking rules, but there are practices that drivers do too often to the point of being thought of as “acceptable” enough. Rather, never assume that it is acceptable to park in a certain spot just because:
- The business premises are vacant
- It’s outside business hours
- You won’t be parking for a long time
- The space is practically wide and empty
- You were able to park there before without getting caught, or
- Other people are parked there
Storage and Secure Parking
There are many providers who offer a parking place for your caravan or motorhome for a fee. These may be a local landowner in the correct zoning to allow commercial vehicle parking or a business offering secure warehousing facilities with 24-hour access. If you do not have space at your residence to be able to legally park your caravan or RV on or off-site, then these might be an option for you.
Latest Parking-Related News
Towing and Clamping
Recent regulations require tow truck operators to make an effort to look for the vehicle driver/owner before towing the vehicle. Further, they must carry a towing consent stating that the property owner/occupier authorises the tower to tow the parked vehicle.
The tow truck operators must immediately release the vehicle at no cost if the driver/owner returns while the vehicle is still being loaded or secured. However, if the vehicle is already secured, the vehicle shall be released after the accomplishment of an on-the-spot fine.
Interestingly in Western Australia, wheel clamping is now illegal mainly because it causes either the apprehender derogating the apprehended, or violence of the latter to the former.
So just to wrap it all up… You can park your motorhome or caravan on the streets under the general and local parking rules, and only for the purpose of parking – no usage of recreational facilities. There are designated places for that, in case of doubt, do not park. And in any unregulated parking area, ask permission first from the property owner/occupier.