Gold coin donation camp at Bulahdelah ‘here to stay’

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Bulahdelah Lions Parks
Bulahdelah is a hugely popular stop for grey nomads.

The town of Bulahdelah in New South Wales has long been held up as a model of how small communities can embrace the grey nomad phenomenon to help ensure their economic viability.

Rather than allowing its bypassing due to a Pacific Highway re-alignment send it into terminal decline, Bulahdelah seized the opportunity to rejuvenate itself. At the centre of this hugely successful ‘roll-out-the-red-carpet-for-grey-nomads’ strategy was the gold coin donation 72-hour camping area at Lions Park.

From the outset, it was embraced by travellers, most of whom made the effort to buy a coffee at a local cafe, or fill up with fuel, or grab a pie. Slowly though, fears grew that the campsite would become a victim of its own success. Multiple stories emerged of travellers overstaying, and of not following good sanitary practices.

Then came news that Big 4 was to develop the River Myall Holiday Resort Park, and that the Mid Coast Council was to perform a review of all free camping in the area.

Rumours that the Lions Park camping area was to close inevitably followed. Grey nomad Rod Aleckson was one who heard through the grapevine that times were a-changin’ at Bulahdelah.

“No more camping, pub meals, coffees, pies, groceries, gas bottles or fuel for me,” he said. “Left hand down and west for me in future.”

However, it seems that the rumours of the demise of Lions Park could, at the very least, be premature. The President of Bulahdelah Chamber of Commerce, John Sahyoun, said that the developer of the new Big 4 park had insisted there was room in the market for all to co-exist.

“Those who still want ‘free’ camping or similar venues at really cheap rates will still be able to do so,” he said. “There are no plans to close the free camping at this stage.”

Mid Coast Council’s Economic Development Coordinator, Robyn Brennan, said the authority recognised the contribution caravanners made to the region. However, while she said Here to stay Rumours that the gold coin donation camp at Bulahdelah is closing have been refuted the council was committed to providing a diverse mix of facilities for visitors, she hinted change might be coming.

“Council is currently investigating options to ensure sites across the local government area which are used by caravans for overnight stays, comply with relevant regulations,” she said. “The Lions Park remains in operation and is included in these investigations.”

While acknowledging there had been issues at Lions Park, Councillor Len Roberts was more bullish about its future. He said that the new Big 4 park and the Lions Park would complement each other, and that the council was looking at putting up signage to ensure people respected the rules.

“Whilst I am on council it will remain and I suggest will be there for as long as required,” he said. “I cannot stress any stronger, it is there to stay.

  • Have you stayed at the Lions Park in Bulahdelah? Do you think the current arrangement is working well? Comment below.
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6 Responses to Gold coin donation camp at Bulahdelah ‘here to stay’

  1. We have stayed at both the 72 camp and the club grounds only overnight,, we very much appreciate the area, usually on return from the north. Going north however we stop at the daughters and are usually at Bulahdelah by midday, in both instances, we stop and shop, going to the bakery, butcher, always !!!
    other shops as need be, we never bypass Bulahdelah whether travelling through or staying. However, if, towns become freedom RV unfriendly we have been known to avoid them at all costs.

  2. There is great coffee, food, fuel, spares, services in Bulahdelah. the 72 hour site is very popular and often near full, so first come first served. The new CPark will suit those looking for powered sites, showers, toilets, camp kitchen. i would li8ke to see council expand the Lions Park install toilets. User pays power and showers would be an added bonus.

  3. I’m a little perplexed as to why the developer of the Big 4 would have any more of a voice in the Lions park operations than any other business in town. We patronise any town which is RV friendly and avoid those which cow tail to the caravan park operators. They will generally not make waves until they establish their grip on the town. Rockhampton has just gone through this exercise.
    These regional towns need the Grey Nomad far more than they need a caravan park. I’m hopeful that all the current businesses remember how the travellers staying at the Lions Park helped save the town. No caravan park can do that.
    We will continue to stop at Bulahdelah while ever the Lions Park is available. The Bakery, IGA, pub, Cafè and Post Office are all frequented by us.
    We appreciate the effort put in by the Lions volunteers and reciprocate in kind to the town.

  4. I have stayed there a couple of times but mainly like the Bowls club. A nice meal in the club too.

  5. Always stop at Buladelah on way south to Sydney. Have stopped at both Donation camp & Bowls Club – both good too. Meals at Club perfect. Good pizza in town at Motel up hill. Donation box missing last time so left donation for Firies when at the bakery. Bakery worth a visit too. Nice town!

  6. We have stayed at the Lions Park numerous times and appreciate the facility very much. Have noticed that some overstay, others Park so they have there space and at times it is near to overfill. Always shop in town. Think the gold coin donation is too cheap -$5 night at least.

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