Alice Springs showground camping battle simmers

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Alice springs showground camping
Up to 30 caravans and motorhomes can currently stay at the showgrounds. PIC: Alice Springs Online

The pushback from Alice Springs caravan park owners over last year’s decision to allow grey nomads and other travellers to stay at the town’s showgrounds has cranked up another notch.

Blatherskite Park is owned by the NT Government and last September, Planning Minister, Eva Lawler, decreed it could accommodate caravanners and campers on up to 30 sites.

However, the NT Caravan Park Association, says this arrangement is now operating “to the detriment” of privately-owned facilities.

The Association’s president Brendan Heenan – who also owner of the MacDonnell Range Holiday Park – told Alice Springs News Online that he had observed as many as 65 to 70 recreational vehicles being accommodated at Blatherskite Park.

He claimed this was happening when there were vacancies at the town’s private parks.

“This affects all the parks in Alice Springs,” he said.

Mr Heenan said when the showgrounds were given an exceptional development permit in September last year to allow caravans or motorhomes, the intention had been for Blatherskite Park to be used when all other caravan parks are full.

Mr Heenan told Alice Springs News Online says the new arrangement had put it in conflict with “competitive neutrality” which on a Territory Government website is described in this way:–

“Government businesses may compete with private sector businesses in a variety of markets. When this happens, government businesses should comply with competitive neutrality principles to ensure they don’t have a competitive advantage because of public ownership.”

Mr Heenan rejects arguments that the privately-owned parks are unable to accommodate large rigs, and he says some caravan parks allow pets. He said Blatherskite Park, as a property of the government, does not have many of the cost incurred by the private parks, such as council rates.

He claims the government should fund the showgrounds more fully so it wouldn’t have to seek other forms of income. Currently, Blatherskite Park is primarily self-funded through the rental of the grounds and facilities to the public.

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30 Responses to Alice Springs showground camping battle simmers

  1. We were in Alice a few weeks ago and tried 3 caravan Parks and was not successful in all 3 as they were full so if it wasn’t for the show ground we would have been camped on side of the road somewhere so very glad to have the show ground to go to made our stay very good and we ended up staying 3 days longer

  2. The local parks need to lift their game. As most Nomads have smaal pets the existing pet alow park/s are not up to standard as we have stoped at one (wont mention name) several times and the standard is not good.We have the last three times stoped at the show grounds and have fond it of a acceptable standard.The time we are normaly in Alice is for the Desert Race as we help out with the event.

  3. The caravan parks hate opposition. They scream blue murder to councils when they think that RVer`s spend their money elsewhere or free camp. Competition is the name of the game, they need to meet the market.

    • I agree with this comment — but be assured the caravan parks are either leased or owned “by councillors” and hate the competition – I have been to and through The Alice at leased 8 times and avoid the close parks , as they are too expensive , I would rather go a little further out and enjoy my stay !

    • The caravan parks seem to have no objection to erecting onsite cabins etc in opposition to the local motels

  4. you need to send the first responsde to the Alice newspaper saying the parks were overcrowded, expensive and profiteering..Pensioners often cannot afford their exorbitant rates which is why we support low cost or free camps.. Park business need to cater for those who can afford only low cost and adapt or die, are they are no longer a get rich quick and council protected monopoly

    • I just saw a caravan park advertised for sale at $14million dollars. Guess that takes a lot of mortgage repayments. Can’t see why they can’t charge what they need to cover the enormous set up expenses. If you can’t afford, politely go elsewhere, don’t be nasty to people trying to earn enough to cover expenses. Where CP’s overcharge is where they charge way too much for dependant children, being pensioners that doesn’t apply to you so you should maybe stop whining

      • Obviously dependant children are front of mind here. I’d say most travelling grey nomads would rather avoid children in caravan parks, not cater to them. If a CP sells for $14M that tells me they are certainly a going concern and shouldn’t be trying to pull the rug from under frugal grey nomads. Small mindedness and greed is far too common within the CP industry and they should be all welcoming any sort of traveller onto the roads. The RV industry is booming and any forward thinking operator would be catering for all types of travellers rather than stigmatising those who choose to freedom camp in preference to ‘little suburbia’ inside a caravan park. If someone is considering investing $14M then I’m sure they’d do their homework. It’s not up to the grey nomad to supplement and subsidise other people’s investment choices. We’ve already done our own and are now travelling with what we have. Let the market decide and stop bullying travellers

  5. Do all the parks allow big rigs? Probably not and that’s where the Showgrounds are wonderful plus they allow pets most of the time. Like David Cook said why get uptight if they are already full

  6. caravan parks when full and were is one suppose to stay ??. Side of the road, a way side stop some were. If it was not for the foresight of some councils and open up show grounds and the like. I don’t even mind paying a few $ for the privilege. I now live in Tasmania and free camp when i can, one of the places that we have stayed is at Tryabunner. No water or power, but just a couple of $ that would go to the local fire brigade or ambulance.
    When caravan parks are full, the caravan park owners should not. complain, Even when there is space in caravan parks one can not force people through there gates.

  7. Simple. No showground or suitable alternative to a caravan park we don’t stay. It’s hard to avoid staying in Alice but can be done. The simple reality is we want to avoid all the facilities caravan parks have. Water and dump point are all we require- Alice like other towns need choices. Travellers want choices. Motels hotels caravan parks Showgrounds and low cost minimal to no facilities for the self contained.

  8. We had stayed several times at the same caravan park in Alice. Last time we phoned 5 weeks in advance to book a site for 2 nights and told no go. Minimum of 3 nights only. We ended up at a small caravan park on Ildappa Rd. Beautiful and lovely people so helpful. So maybe if the bigger parks were not so inflexible there would be no need for alternate measures.

    • Good example of the bombastic approach by this C.Park.
      We are NOMAD,which means we are travelling in and out of towns and places sometimes on a daily basis.
      Demanding 3 nights … and then have the audacity to complain about the lack of patronage.

  9. We have a big rig. Why should we pay the high rates the caravan parks are charging when all we require is power if we stay in one. We are fully self contained so we don’t often need to stay in caravan parks.

  10. I can’t see a problem with this provided a level playing field principle is applied. Less fees for less services. All I need is a reasonable level of security, power, water, a dump point, and garbage collection. I can understand families with children may require more services. Individual choice is the key.

  11. I would rather stay in the showgrounds when we can as you are not squashed into small spaces and sometimes no where to park your car. You pay high prices in caravan parks which we also stay in if there are no showgrounds but I would prefer to support the local council run showgrounds and money goes back into the community or upkeep of the showground. Caravan parks need to get their act together and review their prices which at times are very expensive and they cater a lot for families with children which are things we don’t need if we are touring. All we need is power, water and dump point with some security and a garbage bins.

  12. I’m sick to death of these caravan park operators who want a captive market. I will ALWAYS avoid a caravan park because the cost is excessive and I do not want all the trimmings they provide, nor do I want uncontrolled kids running around. The modern RV does not require a caravan park every night so let us decide what we want to do. The greed, arrogance and pushy nature of the modern caravan park is what is driving the grey nomads elsewhere. I certainly think there are plenty of young travelling families who will patronise the caravan parks so just accept the free market and get on with your job. Allow the grey nomad to travel and stay as they choose. Last time I was in Alice it was rather tight for accommodation so I’m guessing the park owners are trying to ensure there is no competition for them. It’s called greed.

  13. We are in Alice at present and everything is booked out. We had to go out of town to stay

  14. Problem with the free campers is that they over stay and don’t give any other campers a fair go. Seen campers staying for weeks at a time, ruins it for the rest of us.

  15. Blatherskite Park opens when the other parks are chockers and is an excellent site. The parks doing the complaining need to take a good look at their business as we saw more than one substandard park in the Alice during Finke

  16. I’ve come to Alice Springs for the July cluster Fog Show, A’s have many others from Adelaide, VIC and WA etc, camping at the show grounds makes great sense as we are right in the grounds and don’t have to travel, I’m sure the carnies would feel the same way

  17. I’ve come to Alice Springs for the July cluster Dog show, A’s have many others from Adelaide, VIC and WA etc, camping at the show grounds makes great sense as we are right in the grounds and don’t have to travel, I’m sure the carnies would feel the same way

  18. Its our money and we will choose how to spend it. If CPs want a share then they need to cater for what we need, simple.

  19. Same same. Let the c.p whinge and complain and do nothing
    To suit the modern traveller. It is their loss. C.p can only blame themselves when they push themselves out of business for refusing to change business model. Those left standing will be the smart ones who have suitable charge rates for different levels of service.

    • Why don’t you come up with suitable rates ANT. Maybe you could be the one to revolutionise the Caravan Park Industry. We could all benefit.
      What do you reckon about $25 per night unpowered, no dump point, no ablutions , no water. No fences to keep out the wandering stock, no trees No rubbish pickup. Then you could say the Parks are ripping you off. They’d only have to pay shire rates and land tax on unimproved value.

  20. Caravan Parks need to take a good look at who uses there parks.
    I would have to say it would be Grey Nomads.
    Why should we be penalised when it is school holidays or public holidays, when you put your fees up, what extra services do we get?
    I don’t see any nomads using jumping pillows, water slides etc. so why should we have to pay for these facilities.
    Most grey nomads are self funded so every dollar we save on accommodation we can spend in your town on a few luxuries.
    Maybe you will see it our way when you are in our position.

  21. We are a very small park at the rear of our Hotel,some powered and some unpowered no dump point which is the only service we don’t offer.Whilst we aren’t the Taj Mahal we have meals 7 days a week and are dog friendly with full shower,laundry and modest camp kitchens. We welcome the overflow and welcome the fact that big rigs can stop in our part of the world, we are a tourist destination and should encourage all visitors.
    Some may say the small park is one small section of our business so we can afford to have the attitude we have that may be true but every person who visits and enjoys their time here tells the next traveller. We certainly welcome you to Alice Springs

  22. Personally l think it’s a good idea as I’ve got a large van. And back in 2017. Me & my father wanted to visit Alice springs for the first time in our lives but we wanted to stay for 8 wks to really enjoy the area. And l knew that it was going to be peak season when we would arrive at the start of June. So l rang up in the first week of February to book my result was two parks no sites left for my size of van. Two was booked out. And finally I found one that had 2 sites left for my size van. Thank God but if l waited an extra couple of weeks l would have had no hope at all of getting a site

  23. All the parks we have stayed in are very expensive, run down facilities pack in we will be looking elsewhere next time in Alice Springs. We stoped at a caravan park for about 10 days asked for a weekly rate they said no can’t do it. First and the last.

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