South Australia reforms park entry fee system

Published: November 3, 2016
South Australia national parks

South Australia is reforming its national park entry fee system, making visitors buy camping passes separately to park entry.

The changes mean holiday park passes, multi-park passes, single park passes and hiking or cyclist park passes will no longer include camping which must now be purchased through a new online booking system.

The changes came into effect at the start of this month, although all valid camping passes purchased before then will be honoured until they expire.

The Department of Environment, Water and Natural Resources (DEWNR) says changes to the park pass system are part of a push to stimulate more tourism activity in parks through a review and abolition of park entry fees where possible.

The department’s Parks and Partnerships program manager Chris Thomas told the Port Lincoln Times that the changes were part of the state government’s aim to make South Australia a ‘world-leader in nature-based tourism’.

“As part of this, we are looking at ways of increasing the number of people visiting parks, including reviewing and possibly even abolishing park entry fees where possible,” he said.

The system will reportedly allow campers to book a site up to 12 months in advance and pay online rather than at the old payment stands at park entries.

Mr Thomas said the online booking system allowed people to book their camping adventure from the comfort of their own home.

He said it also provided certainty that people’s favourite camping spots would be reserved and available when they arrive.

“This transition away from a first-in, first-served approach has come about after feedback that people, especially families, prefer to reserve and book their campsites before they leave home,” Mr Thomas said.

The Department of Environment, Water and Natural says the revenue raised from camping and park entry fees is used for park maintenance, services and improvements like providing good trails, clean toilets, hot showers and gas barbecues for visitors to enjoy.

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5 years ago

When travelling we like to ‘see where we get to” each day, then find a suitable Camp where we find ourselves – guess we won’t be able to ‘find ourselves’ at National Parks any more. What a HUGE disappointment 🙁

5 years ago
Reply to  Shelley

Totally agree

Neil coon
5 years ago
Reply to  Shelley

Yeah Shelley we are the same. Our lives are regulated enough during work periods, last thing we want is to Have to make a specific place to camp every night of our holiday. These plans must be put together by some pretty pusher who’s never been out in the bush/outback.

Faye Hunt
5 years ago

And for those of us who do not have credit cards to pay online, means no entry to any National Park!

Angry Ando
5 years ago

The new system for booking camp sites in SA will have the same negative impact on grey nomads and other travellers as similar systems in other states had.

Kevin Conoplia
5 years ago

So what happens with the to ring traveller who doesn’t have a Schedule and turns up at a park with No Phone reception. The Book when you arrive is the easiest way for them. Especially when unsure of the site positions or suitability for their size. Might suit families but No consideration given to the traveller like us we take our time and Do Not have an Itinerary or Time Limit. We should still be able to book when arriving where we are heading without having to Pre Book weeks ahead.
Typical Laziness of the National Parks Systems around Australia these days, so where there is Pre Booking without knowing what the sites are like we Bypass most that are setup with these Stupid Regulations.
I have spoken with people who have Pre Booked months ahead only to Arrive and find people camped in their site. Either from Online Booking stuff ups, Ignorant others or No Rangers around to Police the Problem.

Kevin Conoplia
5 years ago

Bloody Discrimination against Touring Travellers.

Neil Coon
5 years ago
Reply to  Kevin Conoplia

Well said Kevin. This program has all the hall mark of some pretty pusher in an air-conditioned office who’s never been outback or even seen a national Park.

5 years ago

What a discrimination against the travelling public esp. those not on internet. Some other states have ruined their N.P. camping & now S.A. has done the same.

Karen Hamilton
5 years ago

Not everyone knows where and when they are going to be stopping that far in advance. We ran into this problem while in South Australia. Arrived at the camp and was prepared to book online, but low and behold NO PHONE RECEPTION wasn’t prepared to set up and be kicked out by someone who did have a pre booked site. So went for a free camp site just out of the park instead.. Please S.A don’t go the way Victoria Parks have gone not favourable at all for travelling tourists with not itinerary planned..

5 years ago

It might suit families who only have one holiday a year and can be at a site on a certain day. But guess what? This crapp will drastically reduce the amount of visitors and the revenue they raise, this mean the end of me and many others spending our money in South Australia. Great idea, not!!!!

5 years ago

We have found that if we booked a site that was found not suitable on arrival, we moved to one that was. Checked on line first to make sure new site was not booked. Informed PARKS of changed. No Problems. Bought a $200 Multi Pass plus Camping. To date we have used over $200 in fees. Good system plus helpful staff. Only drma we have is with the grubs that come into the parks just prior to dark, free camp and leave their rubbish behind. For example the jetty at Stenhouse Bay and they were locals (SA) Pigs we cleaned up their mess.

5 years ago
Reply to  Laurie

I agree totally, as to grubs it is a offence to litter so do what I do take a discrete photo of rego and mess left and report it ,I did this and a few months after I was emailed telling me the offenders were charged and fined in court .

5 years ago

Hey I live in SA. Used to be a great state.

We have a government that is all talk but no substance and could not care about grey nomads needs on the road.

A smooth talking leader who does not fool a lot of people as he thinks he does. Do not believe or trust them.

They cover things up and make it look like they are doing something when they are not. I know cos I worked for them for 26 years and know how it works. Makes me feel sick. Had enough in the end.

Highest electricity costs in OZ and you can bet if the tourist numbers increase in parks the camp fees will go up and up. I stopped going to parks years ago. We even got parking fees to pay at Mount Lofty lookout. Wonder they have not charged for Windy Point Lookout. Bet they have thought about it.

All they try to do is get your dollar where ever you go no matter what even though our taxes paid for the parks in the first place. This is called “double dipping” and the pollies all have their snouts in the trough to get whatever they can from the taxpayer in benefits. This is totally out of control.

Bet they get free free passes too, on official duties they will tell you.

A grey nomad or pensioner spending money in this state traveling should be looked after and not discriminated against by these lazy incompetent, out of touch over paid managers and politicians. Makes my blood BOIL !

June Hutton
5 years ago

So disappointing! We have persistently told info centres in other states to copy SA’s system, and now SA join the bandwagon and bring in the same silly system, unworkable for both the users and those supposed to be running it.

Harry Kannegieter
5 years ago

I have to agree with all the comments above – also, how do you handle a situation when you turn up and someone else is in your site and is unwilling to move. Will there be a ranger onsite to deal with these issues? I’d say probably not. We were in Wyperfield NP (Victoria) week ago. We had pre-booked and paid the $75.00 for 3 nights but didn’t see a ranger to check us out. There were a couple of other campers as well for one night only- wonder if they paid – probably not!

5 years ago

We have arrived at national park sites, pre booked and pre paid, only to find that someone else had already set up on our site because they had dropped in that day. Nothing beats having a live ranger visiting sites and controlling the bookings in their parks.

Anne Harding
5 years ago

This is a backwards step!! Queensland has a similar system and in my opinion it fails BIG time. We have just had an extended stay in QLD and not only had we experienced all the issues mentioned in previous comments but everyone we spoke to disliked the Pre-book system. I booked and paid for 2 nights in a national park in Cape York, to be told that I had one of the last 3 sites left. When we got there, there were 30 empty sites. Some poor family had set up on an empty spot and were being fines by rangers because they hadn’t booked!! It’s hopeless!

Christine de Longville
5 years ago

As an interstate traveler, I am reluctant to pick a particular site online site unseen. We stayed at the Murray NP south of Berri in July ind we looked at all the sites to see there we would both fit and have a nice outlook. The site we picked was not the one that looked most suitable on the maps. As a Victorian I no longer camp in our National Parks because of the difficulties and will now not be choosing SA camps for the same reason.

5 years ago

The Parks were paid for by the people in taxes. The Parks belong to the people not the government or pollies.

They use the line …we provide the service and facilities. Such nonsense. Its all about revenue nothing else.

This is corruption at the highest level in this country as if they don’t think we notice. Some may say we are becoming more like a communist country everyday. Over regulated and fined at every chance they get to take your money. The wages of politicians need to be cut drastically then we may get some relief when we travel. We are all paying for their very high salaries and perks. NO WONDER MINOR PARTIES ARE GETTING STRONGER…. CURRENT POLITICIANS DON’T CARE AND WONT LISTEN TO THE PEOPLE.

They treat the average Grey Nomad like a fool ! They could not care about Grey Nomads.

When was the last time you saw a politician show genuine concern for the people or Grey Nomads they represent ?

5 years ago

As a casual traveler, these sort of booking systems are a pain in the “you know what”. It’s just too much trouble to keep within the rules, times, locations. I’m on holiday and the hassle placed upon us by the government mean it’s better to go elsewhere. My money with it.

Peter Routley
5 years ago

We do not use National Parks because of their no dog policy which is very restricting.Our dog a minature poodle does not come off his lead and is no threat to any wildlife.I have never seen a sign saying No Cats but they are more destructive than any dog.
As far as online booking of campsites, It won’t work for the reasons stated here.More over regulation by govt departments which have not thought their policies through

Don Fitzgerald
5 years ago

We used our camping pass in the limestone coast and only saw a ranger twice generally none were to be seen so how can this system be policed? Other states are no different. No foresight has been put into these changes. From our experience outside prime tourist times and school holidays a good majority of people camping 1 or 2 nights do not book nor pay and no ranger checks on them outside normal working hours? All round this change is a shocker. They could seperate sites for pre booked & camping permit holders only this would allow best of both worlds. Is that too hard? Probably.

B Cooper
5 years ago

Would have to agree with all the above. This system is not practical no matter how attractive it may appear to some bureaucrat sitting at a desk in Adelaide.

5 years ago

Agree with all of the criticisms here and for the same reasons. Having just returned from several days in the Flinders Ranges park using our parks pass did not see one ranger even from a distance. By the looks of the toilets and the rubbish bins out in the park the rangers are so few and hard pressed they cant even get that done well. So much for the money going to maintain the parks. All it is is a sleight of hand way of reducing ranger numbers (and consequently services ) while claiming it is the way people want to go!! We are spur of the moment travellers and campers. Looks like our support for SA Parks just evaporated.

3 years ago

So frustrating to be forced to plan and not enjoy the flexibility of camping and travelling which in the past has been the joy of national parks versus private campgrounds. Unbelievable that there is no thought given to cover the needs for travellers in low season. Surely this could be considered!!

Linda Murphy
3 years ago

As a Grey Nomad, I rarely know a week or so in advance where I’ll be to camp. I’ve also found that there is often no phone/internet service in these places so couldn’t book when i arrive somewhere. As a result, i won’t stay in National Parks any more, which is a shame as I love camping in that environment. Also, if I can’t camp there, I probably won’t go there at all – like a lot of other tourist – so state Governments who have implemented these ridiculously inconvenient systems are missing out big time on revenue from their Parks. If they think they are preventing people from coming in and not paying, then they are delusional – it happens all the time! More Rangers are needed to look after the Parks and amenities and also the people who try to do the right thing!


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