You have been warned! Free campers not welcome

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Urunga camping
Sign of the times ... campers are not welcome. PIC: Bellingen Shire Courier-Sun

The authorities have made good on their threat to crack down on camping along the Atherton Drive foreshore at Urunga south of Coffs Harbour in New South Wales.

A number of ‘No Camping’ signs have been erected, and Crown Lands have promised to conduct ongoing compliance operations to address unauthorised camping. Unauthorised campers will be instructed to leave or be issued with penalty notices. Fines of $1,100 can apply for unauthorised camping under the Crown Land Management Act.

The action follows reports that a sudden and dramatic increase in free camping in the area was causing environmental issues and annoying local residents.

The Bellingen Shire Courier-Sun reports that locals had complained about recreational vehicles blocking access to boat launch areas and picnic tables, hoses set up to run grey water on the ground and towards the river, rubbish bins overflowing and the sole toilet block being rendered unusable. Other environmental concerns include vegetation being damaged, fire risks and river bank erosion.

The newspaper reports that the Atherton Drive foreshore precinct comprises about four hectares of Crown Land on the Kalang River north of Urunga’s CBD and is a popular spot for picnicking, sightseeing, fishing and boating.

Department of Planning, Industry and Environment – Crown Lands Acting Deputy Secretary, Alison Pepper, said the time had come to target unauthorised camping in the area.

“Campers are instead advised to stay at authorised holiday parks in the region that are properly equipped for overnight or longer term stays, including at Urunga, Hungry Head, Mylestom, Nambucca Heads, or Scotts Head,” she said. “Traffic bollards will also be installed on Atherton Drive next year to prevent campervans and other vehicles accessing the foreshore.”

She said the actions were designed to help protect the future sustainability of this part of Bellinger Heads State Park.

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63 Responses to You have been warned! Free campers not welcome

  1. The minority of mongrel freeloaders and grubs stuffing it up for the majority who have responsibility, awareness and take care of country.

    • It’s very simple, if Urunga Council doesnt want us there, stay away. Spend your money in locations who welcome us. I make a habit of spending money wherever I free camp, even if it’s just to top up fuel. Maybe Urunga should consider its business ratepayers (cafes , clubs, IGA’s, fuel stations etc. and not pander to the greedy tourist park operators, we have a limited income and prefer to spread it around

      • How about you pay for the services you utilise, instead of claiming you are doing the right thing by buying your top up at the IGA. You would have done that anyway.

      • If you can spend thousands on a rig, fuel etc surely you can camp in proper caravan parks?

        • not enough caravan parks ,they are mostly full with cabins & perments, we are many

        • When local parks charge you more than $70 a night just to park a van …
          Think that speaks for itself.

          • That is a rip off. Anything over $40 a night is bit pricey. Ok you use a little power, a little water but not 70 bucks worth.

        • If you spend thousands on a rig you don’t need the fancy facilities at the overpriced caravan parks. You set yourself up properly for travelling and most of us then have a budget so we can go and see and do all the things we dreamed of, not supplement some greedy park owners profit margin. We are willing to pay a fair price and spend our money in local businesses but we won’t be gouged.

        • This comment had asked made many times. To simply answeranswer yr question we prefer not to llive lije sardines and to put up with noisy.ppl who smoke and let it drift into our van. I have all the facilities which we psid for so we do not have to.pay exhorbitant prices to park in caravan parks.?

        • Why would I want to stay in a park and be cramped and uncomfortable.

          • Well when we can escape our work life or retire there are no or not many who cater for solos. $30-40 a night is not doable. We do pay big rego to use overnight stays. people are homeless too. this town or these towns will never our business. Open up showgrounds. or maybe private land or yards.

      • The problem with this latest push to shut out free campers, is that the only caravan park in Urunga is owned by the State Govt, and the are under discussion is Crown land. So it is all State Govt land and they have a captive market. Best idea is to not go there as you said.

    • You see the young in those crappy vans all over the east coast of Australia who are wrecking things for everyone.Then they fly home.

      • This is what we have seen. We’ve cleaned up after wicked vans and others who have no consideration. So sad they are the ones noticed not the many more responsible campers. Also not every grey nomad has a rig worth tens of thousands, , ours would sell for less than $15000, and we carry everything we own. Why should we, who have lived our lives love our last days restricted to a house and block when we can enjoy the country studded, in style or not.

      • I would not blame the wizz bang brigade completely. Have been travelling for quite a few years and there are some very uncaring nomads out there. Hey mate put your fire out before you go. Get stuffed. Hey mate don’t leave your rubbish behind. Get stuffed. Hey mate empty your loo at the dump point. Get stuffed. Hey mate don’t change your oil on the ground of the free camp. Get stuffed. It all needs a goverment web site to send a photo to and when a rego number clocks up 10 photos a goverment department needs to go and have a chat to them. Yes I do care what these lazy, oxygen wasting clowns are doing to my country.

  2. North coast councils in general are increasingly becoming negative about free campers. This might be due to the disrespect shown by some campers as outlined in this article. However, son in-law tried to book in for one night unpowered sight in Coffs Harbour region and was told minimum 2 nights only. A lot of parks are administered/owned by councils and this seems to be an increasing trend to dictate to the customer what they can buy. I for one will continue my trip and go elsewhere. Might even encourage others to do same. People who want to stay for one night in the region have nowhere to go if this policy continues.

  3. One way for Crown Lands to push us go stay in their Reflections Holiday Parks as they have taken over almost all the coastal areas and increased fees beyond a fair and reasonable amount.

    • Yes I stayed in Reflections Park at Ballina, 1 night last week. I just wanted an unpowered site for my small, completely self contained motorhome. They don’t have unpowered sites. I feel $45 p/n is quite unreasonable

  4. Bollards???? Where am I suppossed to park my caravan while I using the day use area for fishing or have a picnic on the foreshore

  5. Unfortunately the free and easy camping days we enjoyed S young people are just about gone. I understand the problems faced by councils and national parks. Too many lazy inconsiderate people just leaving their mess behind.. This not just in coastal regions but all over Australia.

    • Yes my parents generation of free camping is almost gone. The baby boomers who have paid their dues in taxes should be allowed to free camp. Murwillumbah Showgrounds offers a much cheaper alternative to high cost holiday parks – gorgeous little town in northern NSW. Base yourself there and do day trips – great facilities in town and there is always a welcoming smile from locals.

      • Gret place there, great town & day trips EVERYWHERE..

  6. Councils making money – its all about money

    • They not getting any money out of me.
      I drive past..plenty of other places.

  7. Yes it is the ones that stay for weeks on end that stuff it up for the over nighters or one or two nighters but saying that it is also the grey nomads that bring the cream into these towns and if word gets out that caravaners not welcome then no extra money.

  8. There is or was a little overnight stay opposite the Fisher mans Wharf Cafe it had s sign from the Lions Club encouraging you to stay the night and enjoy the Urunga village we have stopped there 2ce while travelling through to Iluka last week we stayed at the Bellinger River Caravan Prk in Mylestom and came through Urunga to do sdome shoping as we drove around the foreshore noticed all the vans taking up the spaces between the old fishing shacks and the vans paked in front of the no camping signs you might see 1 or 2 free campers further around the river front but last week we counted about 30

  9. U can afford a $40,000+ caravan and $50,000 car to tow it why free camp? Support the local community not all parks are owned by council!!!!

    • Majority of Nomads are Aged Pensioners. Limited income to spend goes on running costs food and also caravan parks who have become Tourist Parks and cater more for family environment. As a result rising costs keep us away.
      So what now transpires the greedy Park Proprietors get none of our money and we shop elsewhere.

      • We are self contained leave no trace motorhomers that free camp otherwise we could not aford to have holiddays. This is the situation of the majority of motorhomers on limited funds so if we are being shut out from towns along the coasts you will end up being black listed from spending anything it your town enjoy the day then move on @ spend elsewhere

    • Why pay for a caravan park site when your $40000+ caravan has a stand alone lithium battery & solar power system, water a bathroom & toilet and everything else you need?
      We spend money in towns we stop in by the way of fuel, groceries, medicine, dining out, clothing etc….
      By the way – we ALWAYS take our rubbish with us.

    • With the trend for caravan parks to increase fees and reduce the space you are given small wonder we choose to buy rigs that give us the freedom to be “picky” about where we park. We have had far more negative experiences in van parks than alternatives, free or not. Whether it be restrictive rules, annoying neighbors or limited privacy. We have noticed van park sites are becoming smaller and fees increasing. A $90 B&B gives me far more bang for my buck and I don’t need a $90000 rig. The fact is if you pay $90000 for your rig it has to have advantages in site costs or else the Motel/B&B is a better option

    • Spot on.
      We always pay for sites.
      Unlike most we are not tight arses and support local communities.
      To many cheap skates out there with $1000’s worth of equipment.
      To tight to pay a modest fee for a powered or non powered site

      • I agree with you. We bought an older second hand van and prefer to pay for caravan parks. We are pensioners and still manage to pay our way.

      • Happy to pay a modest fee. Won’t be gouged.

      • We’re not “tight arses”..we simply love to travel Australia enjoying the freedom and the quietness without suffering people like you. We are totally self contained..and leave nothing behind.

      • Totally agree with your comment. Spend thousands on vans & rigs, and then want everything for nothing.

    • Why do you act like this weve paid all our lives this is supposed to be the fun part or our lives be reasonable and we might stay but we have limited fund

    • They are pensioners Wendy. One day you will be one. All they own would probably be the caravan and vehicle.

  10. But you see Wendy…that’s the thing. After spending on a Van and Rig we don’t feel like being ripped off by Van parks when we are self sufficient. And…by the way…we DO support all businesses all over regional Australia including the major areas. Don’t need to stay in Van parks to support the business that welcome our trade in these fairly desperate times.

  11. why do people think this is a bad thing, its simple don’t stay where your not wanted, visit somewhere else and spend your money there, there are plenty of other places in Australia you don’t need towns like Urunga, I will never visit towns that don’t make me feel welcome, I visit RV friendly towns and they get my dollars

  12. Wonder what the reaction would be if I pulled in there overnight to rest as I was too tired to drive any further. There are two definitions. One is camping, where you set up your van, pull out the barbie, boil the kettle and enjoy it. The other is resting, where you simply pull into the area, dont pull out the barbie, but just boil the kettle, and grab a few hours sleep because I’m too tired to drive ahy further. That is not camping. Would they rather I kept driving and had emergency services come out a couple of hours later to get my body out of my car, as I had gone to sleep at the wheel, because I was simply too tired to keep driving? What I needed to do is not camping.

    • You would be warned or fined and the told to go to the local caravan park just up the road

  13. We will never go there
    And we’ll spread the word

  14. And I thought that Crown Land was the property of all Australians!

    • I just looked it up Richard. According to the 2018 act in New South Wales crown land can be vested in a local council and they can then call the shots.

      • But remember Rod, councils ARE illegal entities and in our constitution should not have power to fine or hand out rates etc

  15. Caravan parks are getting too expencive for a lot of travellers. A lot of people will stay away and not travel at all. I for one will travel overseas for more holiday satisfaction. We have sold our Caravan as many of our friends have. ☹

  16. Pretty simple, don’t go there. Move on to somewhere that welcomes you.

  17. Be like the boss and I, travel a bit inland plenty of good free camps and small friendly reasonably priced caravan parks and friendly townspeople who appreciate our patronage

  18. It’s always the few that Ruin it for everyone else. You should be ashamed.

  19. Its been said lots caravan parks are running riot with their costs the price of a powered site is way over the top and like said hear small sites enjoying people gutless management not controlling bad behaviour why should we pay for that any were i agree there is a rouge element out there that mess it up for all leaving rubbish around dumping water and toilets in incorporate areas they need to be ropped in and fined to teach them the right way i heard Qld caravan park association has pushed government and local councils to police free camping more and once they got it through they all upped there rates big time because they have authority’s on there side pushing people to them and why do ALL parks have premium very high rates total price gouging there is no reason for this at all i wont pay outright ripp off fees

  20. Over and over and over, same thing all the time.
    Well, dont get your knickers in a knot, or let this subject raise your BP, just ignore these places.
    We of the $193.000 MoHos know we are not bludgers, who want everything for nothing, we are NOT free campers, but freedom campers
    Nothing is free these days, so yes, we buy fuel, food, gas and yes, beer, spirits and wine, lunch at the Pub or a local cafe.
    We pay our way, and have been doing so for tthe past 20 years, and will keep on doing so.

  21. A pack of freeloaders who overstay these places no matter where they are going, give a bad name to the other campers doing the right thing.

  22. There needs to be a acceptable balance when looking at free camping. we have free camped around Australia in some very beautiful areas and the first thing we do when we arrive at the camps is pick up any rubbish we find and bin it, but, often after we done this we find what I believe to be locals visit the area and leave there rubbish having no consideration for others. I laud the action of councils and other levels government in their efforts to keep our country beautiful and clean so that we can all enjoy it. Caravan parks are too expesive in metropolitan areas but what you pay extra there you can save when in country regions. Love Australia and respect it.

  23. Reading this I decided to look at Nambucca Reflections park.
    2nights $74 total
    They allow dogs
    Several years age we stayed for 4 nights
    Excellent facilities and beach is beautiful
    Short drive to town centre
    Big point is if you join the club there are promotions and a $10 Tuesday special
    So shop the deals and if your a nomad then avoid anything like the coasts holiday periods.
    Other times they need the business. Then free camp elsewhere.
    As a retiree I alway have time to research.
    ALSO! Go west young people they need the business as well.

  24. For those who don’t understand freedom camping I suggest you try it. Wake up in a free / low cost camp then wake up in a Caravan Pk.

    If you like the over regimented lifestyle then the van Pks are for you. But I like many others like to wake up to nature.

    Thank you Urunga Shire you have just made my travel plan that bit easier.

  25. Wow this has struck a nerve doesn’t bother me

  26. There r many older travellers who camp for weeks and months in free spots Other travellers arriving late for a few days or overnight are left hanging to find a spot These areas r getting like van parks .Loud music guitars unleashed dogs . We had experience of being forced to listen to music very loud for 6 hrs one night despite asking for it to be turned off in a free camp en route .We take a mix of parks and free low cost sites .Many vanners do not understand that self contained means grey water aswell They run it into streams where others swim or fish
    Bev Moore .If we want free camps then we need to abide by the leave no trace and respect others rights none of us have a given right to make ourselves at home anywhere other than in our own home So all those who think that life on the road is free camps need to think about what they are doing to keep these areas opened
    Personally I think there should be a small charge for all camping as someone has to clean up and mow grass etc. And there r plenty of small cheaper parks out there
    Can travellers not light fires in spots anywhere but use a preexisting spot
    Can you park your van nose in in attractive sites so more people can enjoy the view and not be selfish
    It is about sharing and consideration not me me me

  27. While we are on the subject, I own a hiace pop top campervan with a small bar fridge and a few led lights. Why do I pay the same amount for a powered site as a huge rig with every appliance imaginable?

  28. What a shame. We use this beautiful spot a number of times a year and love it.we spend our hard earned in town at the golf club,hotel,shops ,servos and the great anchors wharf cafe Crown lands dept who run Reflections holiday parks ona leasse arrangement are getting very greedy Surely us responsible caravaners who look after the environment are being are being pushed out of Urunga .We will be spending our money else where .somewhere we are welcome

  29. wow what a rumble, it’s easy people use wikicamps and stop where you are welcome, your choice.

  30. Ha we get all this `crap` here in NZ, Aresoles in the cheap vans(wicked etc )spoiling it for everyone who is a responsible camper .As for the jokers that say we are mean as we don`t stay in caravan parks .!!! $140,000 spent on tug and c/van ,daily and weekly fuel ,shopping ,eating out at restaurants ,cafes and pubs ,maintenance at garages ,the bloody list goes on ,i bet most of us spend a dam site more per year than you` 2 weeks away on holiday ` buggers . Rant over .Have a spectacular day .

  31. We have dogs, and most c.van parks wont take us, so we have to free camp. Would us a c.van park, if they allowed us with our dogs.

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