Do part-time grey nomads make the best mayors?

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Grey nomad mayor in Shellharbour
NSW town wants to welcome more grey nomads

A New South Wales mayor inspired by her own ‘around-Australia travel’ experiences is seeking to turn her town south of Sydney into a grey nomad-friendly zone.

Shellharbour’s Marianne Saliba has urged council staff to look into whether it would be possible to turn the city’s sports fields into makeshift campsites.

“Now that I have become a grey nomad with a bus, and I travel around different states when I have a little bit of time, I’ve discovered some places that do this really well,” she said. “They might have a sports field or a showground that’s not being used, and what they do is charge them a small fee, sometimes if it’s just for a completely self-contained vehicle they might charge you $10 for the night, but if you want to use their showers they might charge $20 a night.”

The Illawarra Mercury reports that Cr Saliba asked staff to prepare a report on all possible open space and sports fields within walking distance of the town centre. These, she told a council meeting, could potentially be converted into seasonal camping areas for use outside sports seasons.

“The benefit of having free or low cost camp sites means more people will come, they might be inclined to stay in town for a few more days and they will be more inclined to spend money in supermarkets and restaurants,” she said. “Some people have said ‘won’t this affect caravan parks’ but the people that use these are people who night go and park on the side of the road for nothing anyway.”

Councillor Nathan Cattell said he supported the mayor’s motion but asked that council staff investigate the possible financial implications for other caravan park operators.

“It is a big movement across Australia, the grey nomads,” he said.

The Illawarra Mercury said councillors carried Cr Saliba’s motion unanimously.

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5 Responses to Do part-time grey nomads make the best mayors?

  1. How great is this, a council and mayor that actually gets it, perhaps if more councils listened to some of these other councils that support the free camp movement then we all would benefit. Incidentally, I am not into free camping, my wife and I only use caravan parks, this actually means when we get to a town that has free camping sites close to town the town is actually growing and prospering. Great move.

  2. I wish more Town Councils on the West Coast would follow this example of forward thinking…. To many Councils here, shove it in the too-hard- basket with their only interest being, how much they can sting the over night stopper for camping where there is a no camping sign, and that’s just about everywhere up the Coast !!!

  3. Some small towns, like where I live, have a caravan park that is council owned and leased out or employs a manager. Myself and a friend who are avid grey nomads have done everything communicating with council to have our town a RV friendly town as a major highway cuts through town and many RV tourists pass through. Success for us? No way.

  4. To many councils listen to the greedy caravan park operators, as is the case of Murray Bridge where the show grounds have been put under pressure and have closed the toilets where low cost camping operates. The dump point is over the bridge in town near the railway station. We stayed at the show ground for 5 nights at a cost of $10 a night, and we spent $800 in town. Had the showground not been taking campers, we would have only purchase fuel and nothing else.
    Their is a box at the showground for campers to put their comments, and dockets for purchases made in the town.

    If caravan park operators want more to attract more caravaners they need to provide an area where they do not use their facilities and are are charged for a place to park.

    • Your comment ‘greedy caravan park operators’ I don’t believe is valid. Councils charge caravan parks a lot of money for water rates, one I know was being charged commercial water rates and were only just breaking even, they have council fees, rates, public liability insurances etc, and often work long hours and can deal with some ugly situations. So I can understand them wanting the free camps closed. I love free camping and when I do travel try to use them, but I know there are two sides to every story. Free camps definitely help the economy of small towns, I just don’t know the answer to the problem. Most grey nomads are on the pension and can’t afford to stay in van parks all the time.

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