Tassie free camping rules … the saga continues

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The Franklin campground has been at the centre of a dispute between Huon Valley Council and caravan park owners. PIC: Patrick Gee/Mercury

The row over free council camping sites in Tasmania looks set to drag on.

The state’s Economic Regulator has recently completed its investigations into complaints from businesses opposed to camping and overnight RV parking services at several council locations in the Kentish and West Tamar areas … but now it has yet more similar issues to look into.

There is a lack of uniformity across Tasmania’s 29 councils regarding free camping, and Local Government Association of Tasmania CEO, Katrena Stephenson, said the situation needed to be resolved before peak tourist season.

“It’s disappointing that we are coming closer to the summer period and we are possibly going to see more of these issues,’’ Dr Stephenson said. “We are still waiting on the government review to be completed, which might resolve some of these issues going forward.’’

The Mercury newspaper reports that National Competition Policy – which is overseen by the State Government and Tasmanian Economic Regulator – states that it is illegal for councils to offer free camping if it affects local businesses such as caravan parks.

In relation to the latest investigations, the Economic Regulator told the Mercury:

  • The Kentish complaint was determined to be justified at six sites but rejected at one site as it was not operated by the council.
  • The West Tamar complaints were rejected because four of the sites were not operated by the council and the other two council sites were found not deemed significant business activity.

Recently, a complaint against Huon Valley Council – which also involved unfair competition – was upheld, triggering a review of all that council’s campsite costs.

The Economic Regulator first received unfair competition complaints from caravan park owners almost a decade ago. Competitive neutrality principles are designed to ensure government bodies involved in significant business activities compete on fair and equal terms with private sector businesses where it is in the public benefit to do so.

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17 Responses to Tassie free camping rules … the saga continues

  1. Wake up Tassie, before it’s too late.
    Once the travelling public hear of this you’ll wonder why the tourist numbers drop off.
    All because of the Whining Van park owners who don’t know how to provide for the Self Contained Traveller or those who don’t want all of the the Bells and Whistles.
    In WA there are parks getting this clientele with different fees applicable.
    I’ll bet during the peak season with all the Van Parks in Tassie they couldn’t cope with the Influx.

    • Ditto

    • Caravan parks are getting too expensive to stay all the time. You get to meet more travellers when yoh free camp. Magbe the councils should look at their expenses.

  2. What about caravan parks with cabins,don’t they take away from hotels motels ?
    What is so special about caravan parks and completion? If I open a coffee shop or pub in a town with cheaper prices and better service will I get closed down because the other coffee shop or pub complains
    Triabunna in Tasmania is a classic example where low cost or free camping is pouring thousands of dollars into the tow and a caravan park is only a couple of hundred metres away from the camps
    To target camps on council land and to say that it is unfair competition is crap
    Too many caravan parks are ripping off the RVers ,the caravan parks that are reasonable prices and don’t squash you in are still thriving

    • I agree with your comments as all businesses have competition from cheaper forms of competition If they shut down the free camps we will loose a lot of The camping tourists Which means all businesses will loose a lot of income.Iv been traveling on the main land for 12 years &the free campers are keeping little towns alive, especially the ones who make the effort to welcome & provide for the people who won’t to free camp .

  3. Yes you have just lost another grey nomad couple, like I said before some places the cook and I have only spent $200-$300 but when it comes time to fill up on fuel,booze and tucker etc I spend closer to a grand.I would not be the only case. Now you dont have to be a clever arse to realise that you take a dozen or so of us kind every week out of a small towns economy and what have you got.Stevo

    • Totally agree. Up far north qld there are so many visitors the shops can barely keep food on the shelves. In Mareeba you regularly see bottled water, uht milk, tinned foods, pasta at a minimum on the shelves all food sorts people will be taking travelling. And it is great to see empty shelves!! Obviously visitors are boosting the region immensely

  4. Tassy people have enough disadvantage with the ferry costing so much.Why the heck do you wish to stiffle tourism more by shutting down free camping.Our last trip we free camped 82days out of 90 .I can assure you we spent many thousands in tassy at many establishments so everyone got a piece of our pie.Cut out free camping and we who plan to return will not.Simple.

  5. Tasmania, why bother, much the same as the rest of Australia, Sure there are some beautiful places in Oz but they are overpriced and few and far between. Yes, I love caravaning, but there is much better value o/s.

  6. Fine… Close all the Free sites… I won’t be coming to that small minded state anyway!

    • I dare say they will be devastated to hear that you aren’t going there zJaq…

  7. Over the years, 2 beautiful Council owned spots near me have closed. Mostly because people were taking advantage of free camping and staying for weeks. Very sad and disappointing.

  8. Bft. Build a tunnel. 250 km without air should be a doddle.

  9. We had the pleasure of visiting Tassie back in 2013/4 and we spent from memory a total of $8000 or more in Tassie. Now multiply that by 100 and it will be around $800,000 and then by 10 and you can see that 1000 RV would or could spend up to $M8 dollars. If the authorities continue on their current policy we will not be revisiting the little island.
    Why should a small business operator like a Caravan Park owner, stifle the opportunity for the other small business in Tassie to have their revenue undermined because of their small minded on this issue???

  10. With the cost of transporting our car and caravan to Tassie ($1982) and return to offset this amount we need to free camp to pay say $5 a night. Staying in free camps in towns we spend big dollars on food, fuel, cafes, museums etc. We tend to bypass towns with no free camping.

    The only thing I would like to clarify is the true meaning of self contained. Every Council has a different idea. Geraldton in WA defines it as internal toilet, internal shower, internal sleeping arrangments, internal cooking with internal water tanks. A good explanation. Other areas also add no greywater. In outback WA, NSW, Qlds, NT and SA we found 99% of areas wanted the greywater on the ground because of drought conditions. Lets be consistant and have one meaning for self contained!!! Thankyou to Sheffield (Kentish) for this low cost camp where we are currently camped.

  11. My feelings exactly with all of my fellow travellers. No free camps to offset the cost of coming over would mean less of us coming over. Lose us and other small businesses miss out.


  12. We have been coming to Tasmania with our school incursion business for 10 years. We have to cover the cost for the return ferry trip as we don’t charge schools for our travel costs from Victoria.We will definitely not be returning if our costs have to include expensive caravan parks when we are completely self contained. I know Warrnambool in Victoria has been blacklisted by many RV travellers who bypass it to travel to Portland which is RV friendly. Tasmania will now be bypassed by many who spend a great deal of money to boost small Tasmanian communities.

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