Van parks group stands firm on free camp fight

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free camping in Rockhampton
A free camping storm is brewing in Rockhampton

Despite a huge backlash against its decision to launch legal action in a bid to force Rockhampton Regional Council to close a popular free camping spot, the Caravan Parks Association of Queensland is sticking by its hardline approach.

The organisation’s general manager, Michelle Weston, says the impact of free camping at Rockhampton’s Kershaw Gardens has been so huge that it had “no other option”  than to go to court.

Ms Weston told the Morning Bulletin that the “unlawful use” of land at the free camping site had not been properly addressed by council of State Government despite several complaints.

“We originally raised our concerns about the free camping with council in July 2014 regarding the unlawful use and the impacts on the competitiveness of a number of local caravan park operators,” she said. “In light of the continuation of this unlawful development and in the interests of our members, including local caravan park operators, we have been left with no other option but to pursue remedies through litigation.”

Ms Weston told the Bulletin that many member caravan park owner and operators in the region had expressed their concern over the free camping ground.

“Local parks, of which many are family owned and run, are unable to compete with the free camping ground during peak and off-peak seasons due to the additional expenses that they are required to incur to run and maintain their parks,” Ms Weston said. “Any use of the land should be carried out lawfully, particularly when the use is impacting others in various negative ways.”

Opening in 2004, the Kershaw Gardens free camp site has been highly popular with grey nomads and other travellers who can stay for a maximum of 48 hours.g

Since first reporting on the legal action on Tuesday, the Grey Nomads website has been inundated with correspondence from readers, who are overwhelmingly opposed to the approach taken by the Caravan Parks Association of Queensland.

The matter will be in the Planning and Environmental Court in Brisbane on February 1, 2018.

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49 Responses to Van parks group stands firm on free camp fight

  1. What next, A class action by the Motel,s over Caravan Parks units.

  2. If I invested million of dollars in a Caravan Park and paid thousand in rates each year, and saw the council spending my Rates to provide free camping I would not be happy.

    • But would you be happy to receive the millions in subsidies that both the state and federal government have sunk into caravan parks, sometimes even to build cabins and water slides.

    • When I bought a motel for nearly a million back in 2000 and complained to my local council about the local caravan parks putting in big swags of cabins I was told that you need competition even though I couldn’t have caravans on my property. I understand you can’t compete with free so why don’t we do away with freebies close to City’s and towns and introduce a fee of say $20 per night and only supply toilets at these spots. That is competition.

    • have you seen the size of this site…. should have no impact on Caravan Parks…. I am a member of the Big Parks and I get charged $6 per night for my 2 cats that dont leave the Van… Can you tell me WHY I should have to pay this????? What facilities would they use?Obviously will choose to stay out of Van Parks that becomming too expensive for travellers… Some are as dear as Motels… And sometimes they are so booked out can’t even get site in them…

  3. What is that wonder-full at Rocky that would entice you to stay for a couple of days at over inflated caravan parks ? Some nice spots around the district for sure and maybe they have free camps that could be utilized. Greedy park operators don’t need us and we sure don’t need them. Pity the rest of the area loses out on some $$$ because of a few.

  4. What are these caravan park owners hoping to achieve? They cannot force travellers to stay in their parks and are risking getting any potential customers offside. They really need to look at their business model and their park amenities. As for staying in Rockhampton, why?

  5. So frustrating that the caravan park owners don’t do their due dilligance and realise that there are those who make the choice and they always use caravan parks and then there others of us who mostley do freedom camping or use reasonably priced places such as show grounds and we will not change our habits if these places are not available and instead we will drive past. A short sighted couple will ruin it for the many because the people using that short term free camp do so to shop..do your homework people

  6. Seems to me that if the nomads can’t free camp it won’t only be the caravan parks who lose out. Many nomads will simply not visit rockhampton which will impact other businesses. Maybe it’s time for caravan parks to offer different rates for needs. CLOSE FREE CAMPS NO ONE WINS.

  7. Caravan parks just do not seem to realise that the majority of the people using Kershaw gardens would never have been customers of the parks anyway. So all they are doing is driving visitors away from the town. CP’s should never think that all tourists have to use their parks. I would consider that to be an abuse of the free market economy we have in Australia where peole have a choice of the standard of accommodation they use.

    • This is the nub of the matter. Well said.

  8. I fully support the Caravan Parks Ass. Free campers are becoming a national disgrace. Just because they want a free camp they expect everyone else to support their lifestyle. Someone has to pay, let it be them.

    • It’s not so much the “free camp” it is more to the side of over priced parks – pools, jumpy pillows kids programs etc, that some people don’t want or need, and feel they should not have to subsidize someone else’s enjoyment.
      A lot of people just need a quiet spot to stop, rest and sleep. A lot of travellers do use C/parks, but not if not needed
      If C/parks had an area without all the bells and whistles, at a reasonalbe price, then vans would be more inclined to stop there – as they do in a lot of other towns and communities.

    • i think shirley might have an interest in caravan parks. all the free campers i have known in the last 7 years on the road more than pay thiere way and reguarly clean up sites after filthy whiz bangers.

    • I agree with Shirley & I have no self interests in Caravan Parks & I doubt Shirley does either. If all these “Grey Nomads” don’t want to use Caravan Parks, why is it they whinge when a Caravan Parks is sold to developers or closes van sites for cabins. Unfortunately we have these “travelers” out there who want everything for nothing, and the Grey Nomads are the biggest part of this group. As for you driving past a town & not spending dollars in protest, that’s all you do each day – spend as little as you can.

      • you really need to get out and see towns that benefit from grey nomads.take of the blinkers and you may be surprised what you will learn.

      • you really need to get out and see towns that benefit from grey nomads.take off the blinkers and you may be surprised what you will learn.

      • You need to come down to planet Earth and breathe some oxygen. Most use a mix of accommodation modes to enable them to travel more. High Park fees drive travellers to more affordable areas to spend their food dollars. Town’s that cater for this benefit from the extra spending power.

      • You have no idea how much grey nomads put into towns. Ask the folks of Barcelden and others outback. Parks are trying to be theme parks. Like someone said before Split the parks. Have a lower rate for those that do not need that. NOMADS spend a lot in towns.

      • Caravan parks want local govt. to force us to use their parks. Do they also want govt. to force us to drive a particular brand of car or eat at a cafe instead of packing a lunch. Get real you greedy people

    • I beg your pardon Shirley !!!!!
      We are not a disgrace and I take it personally you are unable to understand this concept about our choices of what style of accommodation “WE” all choose to stay in and what facilities we choose to use. We “DON’T” like to use some caravan parks as we have our own preferences because we enjoy the freedom to go to and choose our places which we research. What we DO” like is to spend our hard earned dollars in places that encourage us to stay and give us some friendly welcomes because “they” understand what we guve back into their community. Have you heard of referrals? We refer people who had a good experience where they chose to stay then those people refer their contact, then those people actually do return. It’s that simple Shirley. We want to spend our money only where we are happy and where we are welcome.

    • Park owner i suppose !

  9. If the business community of Rockhampton do not lodge their objections to the shire council and stand firm they will end up like the Charters Towers business houses missing out on huge amounts of the traveling dollar due to this similar situation!

  10. I say knock yourself out go to court close the camp and we all will wave good bye as we drive straight through.

    • Travellers and free campers spend a lot of money in your towns and cities. Does free camping mean the caravan parks are sitting empty – I don’t think so! Personally, I stay at a combination of the two, free and paid but if there is no reason for me to stay in a paid cp, such as washing I go for the free. If thats my choice and if no free camp available, I drive right through and try very hard not to spend a cent in such places.

  11. List of RV Unfriendly places:
    Bairnsdale (Vic), Bass Coast (Vic), Tweed Heads (NSW), Warrnambool (Vic), Airlie Beach (Qld), Byron Shire (NSW), Yeppoon (Qld), Gawler (SA), Elliot Heads (Qld), Darwin (NT), Broome, (WA), Hobsons Bay (Vic), Greater Geelong (Vic), Manningham (Vic), Brisbane, Mackay Region (Qld), Boort (Vic), Clarence Valley (NSW), Yamba (NSW), Queenstown (Tas), Noosa (Qld), now Rockhampton (Qld)

  12. i dont like Rockhampton anyway….nothing to see, nothing to do…keep driving…plenty of better places around anyway.

  13. Sick of over rated big 4 my days of jumping castles water slides are over not to mention screaming uncontrolled kids while there parent’s over soak happy hour time to move on to wanted RV friendly towns

  14. As already stated, if u take the free stopover there will be no stopping in for me and many others, We use to stop fill up with food ect rest then move on again. U can’t make travelers stop and use your caravan parks so if they close the free park then Rocky loses big time. Sorry Rocky

  15. As already stated, if u take the free stopover there will be no stopping in for me and many others, We use to stop fill up with food ect rest then move on again. U can’t make travelers stop and use your caravan parks so if they close the free park then Rocky loses big time. Sorry Rocky

  16. This is why caravan parks will get very few of my dollars.

    Booking Policy:

    Deposits must be paid at time of booking.
    Full payment is required when booking online.
    Check in time is 2pm
    Check out time is 10am
    NO Party Policy applies
    NO Pets Allowed
    All units are NON SMOKING
    $150 Cleaning fee is charged for any unit that requires extra cleaning
    A $30 replacement fee will be charged for any lost key.
    Children 2 years and under stay free

    Cancellation Policy:

    All online bookings are non-refundable.
    NO Shows on all bookings will forfeit the deposit paid.
    NO Refunds on early departure from dates booked.
    Bookings may be transferred to another date if available providing 24 hours’ notice is given. Additional charges may apply.

    • Sounds like corporateSpeak, like they think it’s a “sellers” market and rather rudely assume campers are an immature and irresponsible lot who can be pulled into line by a dysfunctional parent attitude. There, had my say!

  17. The best thing about Rocky is the road take you into town and out the other side.

    Do these comments get passed on the the greedy caravan parks??????

  18. My wife and I went to check out van parks in the Tewantin/Noosa area of the Sunny Coast. The van parks are pricing themselves out of the market. If I wanted a van site (only powered sites are on offer) today, it would cost us $50pn in either of the two parks; but wait, there’s more! Over the next few days that rises to $65pn…for a bit of turf and a toilet which we wouldn’t even use. Yes, they have to make an income, but that’s just plain unreasonable. We always want to support local businesses, but when you really can’t afford it, you have to drive away.

    • Guess what Vulcan, you wouldn’t get a site as they are all full.

      • But not with this little black duck!

    • I agree. Why do caravan parks put the price up over the school holidays. Is more power being used due to air cons or a heater in winter. Please explain.

  19. Free camping is coming to an end and the sooner we all adjust the better. We retire early next year and were planning on updating to a van with a full ensuite. In order to tow the new van we would have required a bigger tow vehicle. However, since reading about the closure of the free camps we have had a rethink. So no new van and no new car and no big lap. We will keep the existing setup for short holidays close to home. We are now planning an overseas trip next year, thinking Canada and Alaska look good or maybe a European river cruise. The end of free camping will have wider impact than just a few local towns.

    • There are more and more free camps every year so I don’t know where you are getting this misleading information

    • Charley, there are thousands of free camps around. Just get the wikicampsAustralia app and get on the road. Travel forever and never pay for a campsite if that suits you. AND do as we do – buy RVs in other countries and explore the whole world.

  20. We only travel in a Toyota Hi-ace high top but still have to pay the same rate as much bigger vans with all the bells and whistles. Most parks then stick us on very small awkward sites because we are so small. We usually free camp for a couple of days (paying for showers wherever available) then go to a park for a night or two. The best park we found is Freemantle where they have an area for smaller vehicles and charge accordingly. We can’t use Kershaw Gdns as we are not fully self-contained so maybe the local parks could give some monetary consideration when setting fees.

  21. What’s that old saying
    ‘You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make it drink’
    How stupid are these park owners if they think those that frequent Kershaw Gardens Free camp, they won’t they’ll just go north to Yaamba or south to Calliope. Then Rocky business in general will suffer… why because a few greedy park owners have overstretched themselves financially during the mining boom and are now feeling the pinch.
    We plan our stops for north and south of Rocky every trip fuel at Marmor and Ilbillbie never Rocky too expensive

  22. Just drive straight past …that’s what we do !

  23. We use a mix of free camps and smaller caravan parks. Many parks cater to families and that is ok but don’t try to bully those of us that choose the quieter simple no frills lifestyle. Grey Nomads contribute a lot to the economy of towns and councils that take choice away will loose our business

  24. I can’t see how the caravan parks can win this court case, if the councils lawyers use UBER & the Taxi Industry as a comparison that would be ‘all over red rover’ in my opinion.
    One has been in existence for yonks and was a large investment by each owner and as well have all the associated costs and charges in the world thrown at them, the other comes in overnight and has a free reign with very limited costs and charges and runs on thesmell of oily rag with the governments approval…double standards here for sure!

  25. Well, Then close the 48 hour stop over.
    Let the entrepeutinal folks move into town.
    Fill your water tanks, empty your grey water and cassetts
    Fuel up and hit the road.
    Then watch the bun fight begin between the Good people of Rocky have it out with the greedy few, who want the most.
    They should be renamed what they ARE ALL fast becoming. CABIN PARKS.
    They all applied, under their DA as a CP.
    Changed useage to a Cabin park = New DA.
    This makes it so much easier, to have it rezoned again into R2 housing.
    Once the owner has a Housing DA approved they sell it for extra million’s.
    Some people need to talk to the ROCKY TOWN PLANNER here.

  26. We have a 25 foot van and when we stayed in a caravan park with lots of goodies n , the site was so small with bushes on 3 sides that we only got in with help from a staff member but a different story when leaving. We could not get out ourselves out so the staff had to use there golf buggy cart thingy n manouvouring the van. Never, never again on an ordinary site that they told us was big enough for our van. If i must stay in caravan parks now i will only go in if there is a drivethrough site n enough room to manouvre and i inspect the site before i pay. Kershaw gardens is ok for a stop over.

  27. only free camped once nothing special. stay at cps so get to see standard of bath rooms most very poor.found kamarooka tourist park st george qld bath rooms gold standard

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