Bunbury free camping trial ‘overwhelmingly positive’

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Bunbury free camp trial
Bunbury's free camp trial has been a hit with grey nomads

A trial of free overnight camping at Bunbury in WA has sparked an ‘overwhelmingly positive response’ and is set to become a permanent arrangement.

The trial was put in place to entice self-contained grey nomads, who preferred to camp for short periods, into Bunbury.

The West Australian newspaper reports that, within 12 months of the trial, the city estimated about $227,000 had been spent by 823 people who had received permits for the overnight rest areas.

“We have managed to tap into a market that would otherwise bypass Bunbury … this is a large market which we previously were unable to tap into,” said Bunbury Mayor, Gary Brennan. “We are only half way through the trial and we expect we may have to make some minor changes, however it is likely to continue after the trial based on the feedback we have received so far.”

More than 69% of visitors using the overnight rest areas are from interstate and almost 40% are 65 years of age or older.

The West Australian quotes Mr Brennan as saying they started to notice travellers were hearing about Bunbury through word-of-mouth by other travellers who had stopped.

“The more people who find out about this paradise we call home the better it is for Bunbury and those who live here,” he said. “Once in Bunbury they add vibrancy to the city centre as well as inject cash into our local economy by refuelling their vehicles, having repairs done, buying groceries, enjoying a coffee or bite to eat.”

The city is conducting a survey of residents who live close to the rest areas. The survey closes on December 5.

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19 Responses to Bunbury free camping trial ‘overwhelmingly positive’

  1. No surprise
    Another example how free stops help the towns economy. It’s a no brainer, welcome travellers the dollars will follow

  2. It is such simple logic yet so many towns are controlled by the caravan parks. Let’s see those caravan park operators contribute $200k+’into the local businesses. I’m alway baffled by these situations because the free campers will drive straight through a town which doesn’t welcome them and the town misses out. The stupidity of a caravan park association to think that they’ll get more patronage if the free camp is closed just shows their logic. I will always stay at an RV friendly town as we are currently in Maryborough (Qld) and we are spending money because they have a 48 hour RV stop in town. Bunbury will be the same when we go there in 2020
    So many smaller towns see the value in offering alternative stops for the Grey Nomads. The caravan parks are still going to be busy because many people want to stay there so please leave the freedom campers to do what they do best. Which is to patronise the town which welcomes them. It is a win win.
    Thank you Bunbury. We are looking forward to visiting.

    • You are forgetting about the council rates these parks pay, the locals they employ, the supplies they purchase from local businesses, the tradies they hire to build/repair facilities. They put a lot more into the local economy than free campers do. Pretty stupid statement. They put in way more than $200k

      • You didn’t mention which caravan park you are connected with Matt. Nothing stupid about my comment at all and if read without a preconceived bias you can see I make note that caravan parks are still very well patronised by those who choose to stay there. My issue is, and you’ve confirmed it by your narrow focus, is that caravan parks have a belief that all campers must pay them to stay in the town whereas I’d prefer to pay every other business because my money is being distributed better for the local community. The greed and aggression which has taken hold amongst some caravan owners against freedom campers is very destructive for a community. See Rockhampton for example. Very soon the free camp will reopen because the majority of the town will benefit. The caravan operators are making sufficient money from travellers but want more more more….
        the majority of comments confirm my view, as does the number of towns opting for a freedom camp. No need for greed. Just let people live the way they choose. I will decide where I spend my money and it certainly will not be in a town where the caravan park operators are calling the shots.

    • I totally agree. Victor Harbor SA could learn from this, just to name one of many towns I could mention. I love Bunbury. Bussleton and Margaret River might follow suit with a bit of luck!

    • Good to know! Maryborough is a nice town, and the family is from there, so on my way.

  3. I know it is not Bunbury but you only need to look at Bulahdelah in NSW to see how a small town thrives when the town is by passed by the highway and the Council allows free camping in the area. The town and campers are both the winners.

  4. We recently stayed at the Bunbury 48hr free camp by the Surf Life Savers club, it was fantastic, we re fuelled, we bought groceries, we bought alcohol, we went the the Surf Life Savers club for Friday night feed and a drink, had a great time chatting to the locals who were all welcoming, the ladies at the Info center where we completed the survey were a great help, we were able to park at the Info center during the day.

    • Fantastic! As a Bunbury local, it’s great to read that you enjoyed yourself. And yes, the Surf club is a great spot on a Friday night!

  5. We are currently in Mt Gambier where the showground is restricted by council regulation to allow 8 campers to access reduced price camping. There is more room available to enable travellers to access reduced cost camping. More people to stay in the city. More money to be spent in the community.

  6. All they need to do now is put ina public dump point

  7. I couldn’t agree more. I can’t abide caravan parks with the hypocrisy of crying foul whilst turfing ou van sites to install cabins which in turn must have a detriment effect on motels etc.

  8. It is an unwritten law with free-campers,where free camps are allowed,You spend Money,so the Town benefits,We have inderduced it at MANILLA NSW and it has brought money into Our Town,I might add I am also a free-camper.Good on You Bunbury.

  9. I have a problem with the fact that you require only fully self contained can stay. (hardly call it camping)
    I cannot afford nor can i pull a caravan with a shower and toilet. I have an A frame camper and i can contain the minute amount of grey water i expell I don’t require water or power just a toilet and shower if possible.
    I feel the self sufficient only cancels out all the A van campers and hybrids and small vans and only involves the elite larger caravans with shower toilet . I am happy to pay a donation for the use of a shower and toilet

  10. Yes we have used it. We would not have stopped if they had not been available. In the 3 days we were there, we discovered the best farmers market in wa, and I keep recommending it to anyone who is driving through. We alsobought dinner, fuel, and visited little local markets, to name a few things. From where we were parked, we had the best view of the ocean and light house. Thank you Bunbury.

  11. We love our stay in Bunbury and spent $$ at the fish & chips shop for dinner, three coffee shops one for lunch, woolworths, bunnings, fueled up and loaded up with fruit and veggies at the market just north of town.

  12. Where abouts in Bunbury is the free camp?

  13. How do you get a permit to stay here please?

  14. If only the towns listen to the travelling public, They would do well to give some free camping in these town. The money would help a lot of business.Travellers soon spread the word and pass towns that don’t have free camping.

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