Free camp success paves way for new caravan park!

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Bulahdelah free camping success
A new caravan park is being built to accommodate rising demand. PIC: News of the Area

While it is commonly claimed that the popularity of free camping poses a threat to the viability of many caravan parks, there is at least one town where the exact opposite appears to be true.

Work has just begun on the construction of a brand new caravan park in the small New South Wales community of Bulahdelah … and it’s the massive popularity of free riverside camping at Lions Park and the other cut-price camping options at the bowls club and showgrounds that is being credited with paving the way for the development.

When the Pacific Highway bypassed Bulahdelah back in 2013, many feared it would become a ‘ghost town’. However, a decision to actively court grey nomads has paid dividends. An army of volunteers transformed a scrubby patch of land into an attractive, riverfront free camping spot … and the rest is history.

Rather than deserting the town, caravanners and motorhomers flocked there in big numbers, supporting local businesses and breathing fresh life into the community.

However, with work just starting on the multi-million-dollar River Myall Holiday Resort, some grey nomads questioned whether it might signal the beginning of the end for what has been a win-win situation. Those fears, though, appear to be unfounded.

At a community meeting a week ago, the people of Bulahdelah told MidCoast Council in no uncertain terms that a top priority should be enhancing the existing free camping site.

“The town is becoming a destination and it would appear that the opening of the caravan park is because the free camping has developed an opportunity to add to the quiver of tourism that Bulahdelah offers,” Cr Len Roberts told the Grey Nomads. “The town does not see or want the closing or diminishing of the free park area … but wants it maintained and enhanced.”

Cr Roberts said the people of Bulahdelah see the free camp as a huge success and economic driver for the town, and that the opening of the caravan park was viewed a supplement to the free camping area rather than as a competitor.

Mayor David West echoed those sentiments.

“I believe there is room in this great country of ours to cater for all that wish to take that leap into discovering the tourism brand of ‘Barrington Coast’,” he told the Grey Nomads.

Stage one of the River Myall Holiday Resort, due to open later this year, will include 70 camping and caravan sites. Stage two will see an additional 99 sites added.

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6 Responses to Free camp success paves way for new caravan park!

  1. Bulahdelah is a great little stopover and the free river camping is always near packed when we stop for a break. Just hope the planned holiday resort doesn’t disturb the ambience and tranquility of the little town although businesses will prosper I am sure.

  2. Could you please advise of any free camp sites in or near Redcliffe, Queensland?

  3. All way stop at bulahelah on our way though love their grandma’s rissoles at the butcher and love the bread and cakes at the bakers even the people a round the town are friendly don’t change any thing we love it

  4. Hope it works for a nice town, but do they sell the world s best pies there. If so will definitely go .

    • Yes, they do sell the best pies. I couldn’t get enough of them. Made the old fashioned way with lard making the pastry is crisp and flavoursome.

  5. This is great news. We always stop at Bulahdelah and patronise to local businesses. We were fearing the opening of a caravan park would force the closure of the Lions park. We are fully self contained and do not want to be dictated to by overly expectant caravan park operators. Experience elsewhere has seen a town suffer because the caravan park owner ‘believes’ the freedom campers are somehow robbing them of their rightful $$$$ yet in reality, if you close the Lions park all you do is reduce the income of the businesses within the town and I certainly can’t see the caravan park owner compensating the butcher, baker, IGA, Pub, newsagency etc for their loss. The caravan park operator only has their own bank balance front of mind, not the town as a whole.
    Freedom of choice must reign and allow the traveller to choose. This will be a win-win for Bulahdelah and hopefully other small communities will take note. I’ll be more than happy to continue to patronise any town which respects the varied visitors as we all spend money and donate to the Lions Club. Well done to Bulahdelah community and local council.

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