Should Darwin do more to welcome grey nomads?

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Darwin caravan park
It's not always easy to find a spot at caravan parks in Darwin.

It’s a grand plan that may never come to fruition, but the fact that the old Darwin Hospital site is even being talked about as a possible location for a new caravan park shows there is a growing awareness that the NT capital can – and probably should – do more to welcome grey nomads.

Darwin resident Anne Clifford has proposed the idea to the NT Planning Commission, and has been told that she should now talk to Darwin council about the possibility of transforming the site in Larrakeyah to a place that can accommodate caravans and motorhomes.

“We want people in Darwin who will spend time and money here and this caravan park would instantly bring in a group of people who have money and time to spend to put into all the facilities,” Ms Clifford told the NT News. “The idea of this is getting spenders.”

She said the site would generate income in the city and push people into the suburbs with easy access to public transport.

“It’s got all the infrastructure under here,” she said. “There is power close by, there’s sewerage close by … there are buses here that go all around Darwin.”

Grey nomad Chris Seamons told the NT News that he had travelled all across Australia and spoken to many people who had all made the same comment about Darwin.

“They say ‘I’d like to stay longer but it’s usually full and I have to stay 40 kilometres to 50 kilometres out’ (from the CBD),” he said. “They all say ‘we wish there were something closer to Darwin’ … we just want a flat piece of ground and to walk into town.”

  • Have you found Darwin welcoming, or have you struggled to find an affordable and convenient place to camp? Comment below.

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17 Responses to Should Darwin do more to welcome grey nomads?

  1. We love Darwin but camping is so prohibitive. The cost of parks are rediculous, you say you want spenders, well us grey nomads are mainly on the aged pension & with the cost of fuel alone eats well into the fortnightly budget. We free camp mostly & this allows us to spend our $’s between various businesses in town eg butcher, baker, supermarkets, service stations for fuel & not just supporting one business eg caravan parks who rip us off left, right & centre with their rediculous prices. Most of us are self contained & just require a site with power & water, we dont use your ablution blocks as we have toilet & showers, I make that point because a lot of parks carry on about how much it costs them to employ all these people to run the park. Anything over $25 for powered site is out of reach for most of us,so if you want people to stay longer & spend some money around your city this is the way you’d have to go, not develope a site, where ever it is with all the bells & whistles that we dont want & dont want to pay for. Not worried if its grassed or not, just that its tidy!

    • I totally agree with you Eric. Darwin is a beautiful city with so much to experience,but the cost to stay in a caravan park there restricts most people to one or two nights. Bells and whistles are a waste of money. and as for cleaning amenities etc..we,like you,always use our own shower and toilet. Whenever I do visit the ablution blocks I rarely see another they are definitely not being used very much . A park that simply offers power,water and a dump point for a reasonable rate would be well received anywhere I feel sure. would seem that councils are not listening..

    • Well said Eric, couldn’t agree more !!

    • Couldn’t agree more Eric

    • Very well said. Agree 100%

    • I totally agree, we were in Darwin last year and were flat out finding an affordable van park within 20 kms of the cbd. I am also convinced that Darwin does not like dogs, we have Pomeranian pup and with the response we got from caravan operators you would think our little dog was a monster from the dark ages. We finally found a suitable park about 20 or 30 kms out of town, we stopped 4 days instead of 3 weeks, too hard and too expensive especially after the long drive up the middle of Australia, Darwin needs to wake up to the dollars they are not getting, in the mean time we will go somewhere else

    • Well said Eric, we were in Darwin 2017 and were stunned at the amount of businesses closed in the CBD they need to get something happening for us before the town totally dies.

    • Fully back you up Eric

  2. Too expensive anywhere close to Darwin. I wont pay $55 a night for a powered site for one person. They say they only have a short season to make their money. But based on that, Southern Australian parks should be triple the price at this time of the year.

  3. Really depends on how much they care about Aussie’s wanting to see Australia. Yes they are price prohibitive! Such a shame. Perhaps Darwin doesn’t need our money. Thats sad and their loss.

  4. Who needs a jumping castle? Camp kitchen? We have our own BBQ.
    Anything over $30 is too much for the level of amenities which we need.

  5. I fully agree with everything said above …far to expensive to stay closer in and we really love Darwin and would love to spend more time there

  6. Caravanners like those in the comments above are naive if they think that caravan parks are run to keep grey nomads happy. Sorry, but like any other business, van parks are only run to make money. Currently van site suppy is low and demand is high. No point developing extra sites if you can put two on what was once a single site, no need for the effort of keeping a booking system if you can fill the park anyway on a first come first served basis. Parks fill every day, with minimum maintenance and effort. Many van parks on the east coast and in WA between Carnarvon and Darwin are thriving on the relative lack of competition, with a culture of cram them in and they can like it or lump it. Another park closer to the center of Darwin would be good, but if one is built it will still never be providing sites at much below the going rate in the area which is always at the maximum that some are willing to pay.

  7. Yes…too true Wayne..!

  8. Totally agree with you all cps are jusr a rip off we all ways free camp why buy a van with all the gear then go to a cp wa has heaps of free camping

  9. i spent a month in darwin… because i was house sitting a farm at howard springs…. loved it….. the only way i could do it… i cannot affort what they charge

  10. Great idea to provide accommodation near centre of town. As long as it stays for travellers and doesn’t become full of permanent residents creating a quasi slum.

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