Self-contained – what does that even mean?On 25. August 2019 by Cookie
Whe have discussed the topic of self-contained vehicles (SCV) in this blog quite a few times already. In the last post we talked about leave no trace, which is similar in spirit. Because being self-contained generally means to not leave anything behind.
Self-contained means not leaving anything behind
If you visit Bunbury’s website, you’ll find this information:
Visitors must meet the definition of fully self-contained to utilise these areas. To be considered fully self-contained your vehicle must be fitted with on-board facilities such as toilets and sinks. These on-board facilities cannot be a separate item; they must be manufactured as part of the vehicle and plumbed in. If your vehicle does not meet these criteria, you will need to use established caravan parks.City of Bunbury
Obviously, Bunbury has quite strict prerequisites for their self-contained RV spot. They ask for fitted facilities, which is the exception, according to the very informative website Australia So Much to See.
Generally, it’s about
- leaving nothing behind
- having the “ability to take any waste, including general rubbish, toilet waste and any water used with you for appropriate disposal elsewhere”
- not being dependent of facilities like toilets and water taps.
The CMCA (Campervan & Motorhome Club Australia) issued a Self Contained Vehicle Policy (SCV Policy). Members with vehicles that qualify can order a sticker that they can put on their vehicle. It’s a kind of voluntary commitment to comply and also to leave no trace.
The prerequisites include:
- fresh water tanks
- at least one fitted sink, other sinks and showers are optional. An external shower does not count, as the grey water is not contained.
- A closed grey water tank where the sink or shower are drained. Open containers, e.g. buckets, do not count, grey water must not be emptied.
- a toilet (fitted or portable)
- rubbish bins
As our Quokkamobil obviously is a SCV, we have never been asked about it by a ranger. But we have seen the ranger patrol nearly every time, and we have read about people being asked to leave or even fined when not meeting the requirements.
Being self-contained and what that means in detail is not uncontroversial. Different kinds of travellers clash at that topic, and there is a conflict between the wish for free campsites and the wish to saveguard exactly those same free campsites.
In the last post we alreade discussed what kind of a problem a small group of inconsiderate travellers can create. In some sense it is absolutely understandable that many communities decided to have the self-conained policy. But if you think about the fact that not only backpackers rely on these free spots, but also quite a lot of Australians just don’t have the money to pay $ 30-40 for a night on a campground, this does not seem entirely fair.
In Australia, there is quite a big community of grey nomads: senior citizens, who decided to leave their permanent homes (entirely or part of the year) to go and travel the country in their RVs or camper trailers. Not all of them have a SCV, because just those smaller, 4WD compatible trailers are often not made for carrying big water tanks (due to towing capacities, axle rating etc.).
But it’s exactley this group of travellers that do care about the landscape and that adhere to the leave no trace principles. Also, they are a mostly quite solvent clientele, who prefer staying in a town on their route instead of a caravan park, who will visit the local pub, do their shopping and thus leave money in the town.
In a story on the The Grey Nomads website, this question arises:
“Everything seems to be focused on the big, well-equipped motorhomes and caravans but they forget how many of us are out there,” he said. “We don’t even try to go into self-contained areas any more as we don’t want to be told to go away, but how much would it cost for them to put a long drop or toilet in … and think of the financial gains.”The Grey Nomads
Naturally, this does not only concern grey nomads, but all outdoor-loving Australians, who want to go hiking, camping or fishing in the bush.
Self-contained: solutions for the future
It was exactly this discussion (apart from the general flexibility provided by a SCV) that led us to buy our motorhome in this setup. But perhaps we could find a solution for the future that also takes into account the needs of the grey nomads and similar travellers, without leaving too much room for those inconsiderate travellers that just leave their rubbish everywhere.
Because we all agree that we don’t need those.