You’re getting set to head off on a road trip across Australia and need to know all of the right information.
Here we tackle the big one: can you carry diesel or fuel on the back of your caravan, trailer, camper, RV, van or 4WD?
I’ve been in that same situation, wondering the same thing myself. In fact I found it very difficult to find the definitive answer that I was looking for, but today I will share with you what I’ve found.
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Carrying Fuel Regulations for Caravans
Why Carry a Jerry Can?
- Just in case you hit a head wind and go through the fuel quicker than expected (it happens!)
- Just in case you bank on pulling into a servo, only to find it closed 5 years ago
- Just in case you pull into a town and find that they’re fresh out of diesel (have also seen this happen!)
- To fuel a generator
- To fuel a diesel heater
As we were in the stages of preparing our set-up for travel, it was a no-brainer that we needed a Jerry Can on the back of the van with spare fuel in it. Why did we want to carry spare fuel on our caravan? Mainly for ‘just in case.’
What if we had battery problems somewhere along the way and needed to pull out the generator (it’s never happened yet, touch wood)?
What if we ran out of fuel along the Nullarbor and needed that extra 20L to get us to the next servo? We have never run out of fuel yet, but you know, gotta be prepared!
So we went ahead and bought a Jerry Can Holder to fit behind the spare tyre on the rear of the caravan. But then the question came to me, “are we even legally allowed to store fuel on the back of the caravan?”
I got googling as we were midway through fitting it, just to be sure everything was all above board. My biggest concern was Insurance. I wondered if we’d be covered by insurance if someone ran up the back of us with a jerry can full of fuel on the back.
My Research Findings
After spending a lot of time trawling through Google, I came across hundreds of articles and conversations in forums saying that you shouldn’t carry fuel on the back of a car or trailer.
Even RACQ had an article on the topic (which is no longer available, for some weird reason). They reckoned that fuel can’t be carried anywhere that is prone to impact, which rules out the front of the vehicle, the rear of the vehicle/ trailer, plus the draw bars.
Fuel also should never be carried inside the passenger compartment of the vehicle. So, what’s left? The roof apparently… but that’s not always ideal, plus it adds extra weight up top. Sometimes it can work, but it’s not always the best scenario.
Alas, I couldn’t find anything actually saying whether or not it is illegal to carry fuel on the back of our caravan.
So far, I’d found lots of recommendations but no cold hard facts. I wanted it straight from the horse’s mouth.
Next thing I did was ring the Queensland Department of Transport. The first person I spoke to didn’t actually know the law on the topic, so I got a bit of a runaround until I ended up in the right department (within the department).
What did Queensland Department of Transport say?
When I put the direct question to the employee at Queensland Department of Transport, this is the answer I got:
QUESTION: “Is it illegal to carry fuel in a jerry can on the back of my caravan?”
ANSWER: “There is no law stating that it is illegal to carry fuel on the back of your caravan. As long as it is acceptable with your insurance company, then you are legally allowed to have it there.”
What did our Insurance provider say?
I just needed to make sure that I was complying with my insurance policy. It was time to ring them and get their answer as well.
QUESTION: “Will we be covered in an accident if we’re carrying fuel in a jerry can on the back of our caravan?”
ANSWER: “As long as you’re complying with your state regulations, then yes, you’ll be covered.”
When I asked my insurance provider the same question, they did assure me that we would be covered, as long as we were abiding by the state laws for whichever state the caravan is registered in. It sounds to me like a case of passing the buck, however as long as we were covered, that was my only real concern.
It doesn’t hurt to get this in writing if you’re worried about any future claims around the issue.
Dangerous Goods Licence
Bear in mind that no more than 250L can be carried without a Dangerous Goods vehicle or licence. Fuel must be always be carried in containers that comply with Australian Standards, like metal or hard plastic purpose-made jerry cans. They’ve also got to be clearly labelled or colour-coded.
Standard Recognised Fuel Colour Codes
🔴 RED = Unleaded Fuel
🟡 YELLOW / BLACK = Diesel Fuel
🔵 BLUE / CLEAR = Water
Where to Carry Fuel on a Caravan
As there are no legal requirements with where to carry fuel on a caravan, you are free to store it wherever you like. However, it’s important that fuel is never stored inside the caravan and is always placed away from flamables.
Where to Carry Fuel on a Caravan:
- Store away from ignition sources (such as the fridge and hot water system)
- Store fuel in correctly labelled and/ or colour-coded containers
- Do not store fuel inside the caravan
- It is legal to carry fuel on the front and rear of the caravan, as long as it’s properly secured
- Make sure jerry cans are secured in purpose-built jerry can holders
Carrying Fuel Regulations Summary
- It is NOT illegal to carry fuel on the back of your trailer or vehicle (in QLD anyway)
- Check with your own State Department (links below)
- Check with your Insurance Provider if you can carry fuel on the back of a caravan and still be covered (get it in writing)
- You can’t carry fuel inside the passenger compartment of the vehicle
- Always carry and store fuel in approved and labelled/ colour coded Jerry Cans
- You can’t carry more than 250L without a Dangerous Goods vehicle or licence
Keep in mind, that depending on how you store your jerry cans, they may be adding extra length to the back of your van.
State Department Contacts
For more information, contact your respective State Department of Transport & Main Roads to check with what information they have issued:
- QUEENSLAND – Department of Transport & Main Roads
- NEW SOUTH WALES – Transport for NSW
- AUSTRALIAN CAPITAL TERRITORY – Access Canberra
- VICTORIA – VicRoads
- TASMANIA – Department of State Growth
- SOUTH AUSTRALIA – Driving and Transport
- WESTERN AUSTRALIA – Department of Transport
- NORTHERN TERRITORY – Driving and Transport
CONCLUSION – Can You Carry Fuel or Diesel on the Back of a Caravan?
When asking the question, “Can you carry fuel or diesel on the back of a caravan,” the short answer is yes. However, it’s important to ensure that the fuel is stored in a correctly labelled and/ or colour-coded container. Plus, it must always be secured well and stored away from flammables.
My biggest piece of advice is to double-check with your own State’s road authorities and insurance company, as these laws could change at any time.
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