Its popularity is crowding out Bulls Camp at Woodford

Free overnight camping in a lovely setting, plus five-star reviews on Facebook and other positive social media coverage are all putting pressure on Bulls Camp at Woodford.

Bulls Camp Reserve is a Roads and Maritime Service rest area, not an approved camping ground, and travellers are supposed to stay for a maximum 24 hours.

But a council spokeswoman confirmed that many are staying longer.

“The upsurge in longer term camping has created safety issues which council is seeking to address. Actions in the short term include providing clear signage on permitted use of the site, and enforcement if infringements occur.”

The site has two toilets as well as a free shower, also under review by council.

“The area is on a pump-out septic tank and the current costs are high,” the spokeswoman said.

Free camping: The ever-popular Bulls Camp site at Woodford.

Free camping: The ever-popular Bulls Camp site at Woodford.

Members of the local branch of the National Trust, who went to see the site to ensure its growing popularity wasn’t harming heritage structures, found the site intact, although branch president, Rod Stowe, said they did notice tell-tale signs of human activity in the bush.

“While our interest was specifically in regard to heritage matters it was clear from our inspection of the bushland immediately surrounding the site that users are not confining their ablutions to the provided facilities,” he said.

Mr Stowe has also written to council to ask it to consider better signage.

While there is good information about Coxs Road – existing parts of which can be seen nearby – there is a lot more history to the area, he said.

Bulls Camp was built as a stockade in 1835 for the convicts working on the road.

There is a flogging stone, reputedly where the convicts were beaten. The sandstone slab has grooves in it, which are said to have given the flogger a better foothold.

There is also a cave, reportedly used as a cell for misbehaving convicts.

Mr Stowe said Bulls Camp was abandoned as a stockade after a short period, and another built at Blackheath. But in the 1860s it was again used, this time for workers building the railway.

And in the Depression-era 1930s, swaggies looking for work camped there en route to the central west and the possibility of jobs.

The branch has written to council’s general manager, offering help in compiling information for more signage.

A council spokeswoman responded, saying “interpretation of the heritage values of the site will be subject to availability of funding in future years”.