Free camping in spotlight as virus concern grows

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South Burnett Regional Council free camping
Most free camps in the South Burnett area re-opened on June 12.

As the coroanvirus continues to cause major concern in some states, it seems renewed focus is being put on free campsites and the protocols in place to keep visitors are safe.

Earlier this week, we reported that Gladstone Regional Council in Queensland had announced that all the campgrounds it manages will be closed until further notice, due to concerns over Covid-19.

The decision affects the hugely popular camping spot at Calliope, as well as the Lilley’s Beach, Futter Creek, Oaks, and South End campsites.

A council statement said that, in order to meet the public health direction, the council would be required to have staff in attendance at its five campgrounds located across the Gladstone region at all times, which would come at a significant cost for ratepayers, and was basically impractical.

That decision followed a complaint by a local caravan park owner that it was unfair that free camping areas weren’t subject to the same strict Covid-safe enforcement protocols as caravan parks.

While it is not yet clear how many local authorities will adopt a similar stance, it is clear that it is an issue that has popped up on their radar, particularly as community transmission of Covid-19 in Victoria and New South Wales has become a growing problem.

Queensland’s South Burnett region is home to several free campsites run by the South Burnett Regional Council. The free camps – at Benarkin, Tipperary Flat, Stuart River, Wooroolin, Kumbia, Wondai, Proston and Murgon – re-opened on June 12 after a two-month hibernation due to Covid-19 restrictions. The Stuart River Rest Area will remain closed for the present due to upgrade works currently being carried out on that site.

The council said at the time that the reopening would help provide a welcome injection of cash for local businesses who service visiting caravanners.

While any privately owned campsite or caravan park requires guests to sign in and out for virus tracing purposes, South Burnett Regional Council says that, according to Queensland Health Public Health Directives, its free campsites do not require a health management plan or a site manager.

South Burnett Mayor Brett Otto told the Courier newspaper that these directives are in accordance to the state requirements.

“The Queensland Health Directives are founded on the strict border controls and the community in general adhering to the mandated and commonsense precautions in relation to social distancing and the prevention of community transmission of Covid-19,” Cr Otto said. “Further to the regular cleaning schedules, council has introduced an additional residual chemical sanitation treatment of all public amenities throughout the region.”

  • Do you think there free camping areas should have to require campers to sign in and sign out so that they can be traced if needed. Comment below.

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11 Responses to Free camping in spotlight as virus concern grows

  1. There is no reason why Local/Shire Councils cannot set up a system of “Camp Marshals” similar to Cooper Creek free camp – It ensures that money is kept coming into town/s.

  2. Yes definitely

  3. Yes, its no bother to sign in. If it helps keep the free camp areas open and keeps costs down. The majority of caravanners wouldnt mind I’m sure if it keeps us safe too.

    • I have no problem with signing, it’s good commonsense

  4. Yes we all need to fill out contact traceing doco. Free camp or c park. Unlike the one we are in now! No doco no contact tracei g possible! If councils cant afford or do not have the staff to manage the camps then they must be closed

  5. Just another way to close free camps to benefit caravan parks

  6. Yes, we nrrd to br able to trace where everyone has been, for all our saftey

  7. Yes, we would sign rather than see them closed as they are as important to the local economy as they are to travelers. And anyone who has a problem with it are just plain stupid..

  8. Would be happy to register as at excellent.free and low cost RV parks at Julia Creek, Winton, Longreach etc
    Would also be OK with small fee to cover cost

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