Free camp trial ending, but the debate is just starting!

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Grey nomads stay at Goondiwindi
Redmond ark has been very popular with travelling free campers. PIC: YouTube

The decision may have already been taken to close the free camping area at Redmond Park in the Queensland town of Goondiwindi … but that doesn’t mean the fuss around the issue is going away any time soon.

The local newspaper, the Goondiwindi Argus, reports that its office and social media accounts have been absolutely inundated people eager to have their say.

Many believe that Mayor Graeme Scheu’s announcement ending the free camp trial on the ground of high compliance costs was premature, and that the council had failed to take into account all of the benefits.

Elizabeth Ann Raymond told the paper that many of the grey nomads using the camping site enjoyed a pleasant walk from Redmond Park into town, and that any other proposed reserves would be too far for them to walk.

Margo Hancock said she was surprised that the Chamber of Commerce hadn’t been voicing their support, adding that free campers needed ‘doctors, prescriptions, food, alcohol, fuel’ and this could only benefit the town.

The owner of a laundry business in the town, Kristie Graham, said he had certainly reaped some of the rewards of the free camping experiment.

“I had a lot of free campers come in to do their washing and drying and have a chat,” she said, adding that they would also have a coffee.

Other Goondiwindi Argus readers, like Sting Woodham, wrote on the paper’s Facebook page that a free camping park should be kept, but that a bigger site was needed.

“They all need to stock up on groceries and fuel, so it must help local shop owners,” he said.

Chris Beare also saw free camping as a way of boosting the local community.

“I remember the council collecting shopping dockets that showed how much the town benefitted,” he wrote on the Facebook page. “It is extremely popular. I drive past it every day and it is mostly bumper to bumper with caravans.”

The Goondiwindi Argus said it had invited other business owners to state their opinions, but Tony Stevenson said some may be reluctant to become involved in the debate.

“How can a business owner possibly express their opinion on a Facebook post like this?” he asked online. “They will get berated and their own livelihoods will be in jeopardy.”

Graham Mills said there were ‘two sides to the story’. He said free camping was “great for the traveller and local traders, but not so much for the caravan park owner”.

The Goondiwindi Argus is now conducting an online poll on whether there should be free camping in the town.

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10 Responses to Free camp trial ending, but the debate is just starting!

  1. C.P owners can too benefit from influx of visitors. Have suitable arrangement and pricing for travellers who are self contained. It is an absolute no brainer more visitors and longer stays boosts a regions economy. Well and truly happening in Far north qld

  2. Those that want to free camp don’t like van parks and those that like van parks dont like to free camp. Closings free camp will not make free campers stay in van parks. I always use the description you nee a choice of restaurants /takeaway not every body eats the same.

    • so true, closing the free camp will see travellers move on to another town that has a free camp. It will not force them into caravan parks.

    • We like to free camp, but usually when away from towns. Despite being self-contained, the majority of our stays are in caravan parks so that we have easy access to water, electricity and sullage. Making friends and socialising occurs everywhere. A downside for some towns is lack of convenient parking spaces for a 13 metre long rig, so that we can purchase supplies. We bypass those towns.

  3. Every time we have stopped at Goondiwindi we have generally spent in excess of $300 on fuel, groceries and other necessities, closing down the free camp is not the answer. We don’t stay in cp’s but we will stay at low cost venues, if the cp’s put aside an area that was around $10 per night with say a $2 fee for a shower it would be a win win for everyone.

  4. I hope this isn’t sour grapes on the part of the Caravan Park and collusion with the council to stifle healthy competition. Choice, satisfaction and value for money is paramount in attracting business to any community and I would question the councils priorities especially when they appear to turn new business away and forget their responsibilities so as not to upset the apple cart within their own paradigm just to curry favour from so called local business leaders who don’t meet the expectations of new customers. Free camps and Caravan Parks are part of the travellers mix. If the local community council cannot wear providing both and thereby lose/turn away income due to simply being short-sighted to protect tired, dated and over-priced services then they will be failing those they serve. I wish them luck in this case and the many other communities that are becoming selfishly insular and familiar – there is space enough for every kind of traveller in this great country.

  5. When we stayed there the caravan park sent someone in a car looking at w ho was there. Trying to make people uncomfortable. I wonder who collected the shopping dockets. As an example Julia Creek really benefits from welcoming self contained campers

  6. I will by pass them now, l loved the free camp and the lovely walk into town. It sounds like the caravan park owners a running the council. A lot of business will miss out because of this type of attitude.

  7. Close the site and you and the town businesses will suffer. Wake up and keep the park open. Most complaints come from the caravan park who will loose also as has been the case in many towns. Suggest you not only keep the park open but add another free site near the town. Wehhavealways fueled

  8. This year the Port Hedland council allowed the Port Hedland turf club to open a vacant piece of land for free camping. A freebie at De Grey about 70km’s North of Hedland that was closed due to a noxious weed helped the decision. The freebie is open to self contained RVs for a max stay of 72 hours and will close at the end of October.
    So to the council of Goondiwindi, why don’t you contact Port Hedland and discuss the issue.

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