‘Low-cost camps needed to get Spirit travellers to stay’

Published: July 27, 2021
Does Geelong need low-cost camping?

The Victorian city of Geelong is looking at the possibility of introducing more facilities for low-cost campers in the area,

With the Spirit of Tasmania due to start sailing into Geelong from next year, the Bay 93.9 radio station reports there are growing calls for more to be done to entice caravanners and motorhomers to stay.

Councillor Kylie Grzybek is proposing the council update its policies, and look at providing low-cost camping in the northern suburbs, including a publicly accessible dump point.

“We are missing this whole cohort of RVers, these caravan and camping facilities,” she said. “They’ve got their own facilities but they just need somewhere to be able to park and to be able to use our fantastic places in the north.”

Cr Grzybek says that, after being encouraged to do so by members of the local community and tourism businesses, she is putting forward a motion to the City of Greater Geelong proposing possible new low-cost camping sites be investigated.

She said areas including Lara, Anakie, Little River and the You Yangs would benefit from a low-cost camping site.

Cr Grzybek said a site nearby could generate money for the local economy, if grey nomads and other travellers could be persuaded to stick around for a night or two.

“Caravans and campers need somewhere to stay the night before or the night after, so they’re not travelling straight off the boat into the world,” she said.

It’s not the first time Cr Grzybek has tried to get more done to encourage all caravanners and motorhomers to stay in the area longer. Back in 2019, she said the city should have both paid caravan parks, and some small free short-term parking places with a dump point.

However, at the at time, her appeals fell on deaf ears with the chief executive of Tourism Greater Geelong and the Bellarine, Roger Grant, opposing the initiative.

“There is no such thing as free camping, because someone has to pay,” he said at the time. “Campers are welcome, caravanners are welcome — we say ‘please come and stay’ but you have to pay.”

The Geelong Advertiser reports that in 2019 the region had 27 commercial caravan parks each drawing about $1.26 million into the local economy per year. Council figures showed the parks account for about 12% of the accommodation industry revenue and 9% of industry employment.

  • Would you stay longer in the Geelong area if there were more low-cost camping options? Comment below
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Wil Warburton
11 months ago

We were looking for somewhere to stay in Geelong back in May 2021,
We ended up out at Queenscliff because when towing a van it is not always easy to find Caravan Parks that doesn’t break the bank which are easy to get into, especially if you don’t know the area or the city

11 months ago

Especially with the Spirit of Tasmania soon to be departing and arriving at Geelong it would be beneficial for a lot of travellers to have low cost camping with basic facilities available in the area. So many places we have visited over the years have basic camping either at the local showground or a small area run by the local service clubs for a small fee. Places like this would bring more travellers, and their money, into the community.

Jean Winterfield
11 months ago

We have been to Tassie on the Spirit and coming from rural SA found that daunting enough without having to overnight somewhere to catch the ship., last time it was Werribee then into Melb early. Much better to have Geelong and a cheap no frills overnight spot would be fantastic.. it would encourage people to shop etc in Geelong too. Hope this becomes a reality

Marj Davis
11 months ago

They need to do something for Geelong and surrounds. There’s no free or cheap camping within the area at all. Greedy councils.

11 months ago

Absolutely brilliant idea. Only 2 parking spots for RV’s at the outskirts of the CBD, near the uni, caravan parks around the area are very expensive & even though the showgrounds are quite central there are numerous times a year that’s closed for camping! Everything we’ve read or experienced 1st hand in towns that offers low cost camping report an increase in revenue. With the “bush telegraph” so many travellers by pass the area as it’s far from RV friendly. You only need to look at how Winchelsea have got theirs set up, it’s always busy when we visit!

11 months ago

Roger Grant needs a wake up
It.s people like that making silly decisions that make the whole town, city area lose out.
If facilities aren’t there people just don’t stay, move on and spend time and money elsewhere

Ros Grams
10 months ago

Free camping doesn’t necessarily mean low cost. Many like us are totally self sufficient, just need somewhere to park relatively close to the boat. We are happy to pay for a camp space, but we really don’t like being jammed in caravan parks, and don’t need their facilities. So free for us and our 2 cats means people free, not dollar free

10 months ago
Reply to  Ros Grams

Yes I agree. Let’s face it, the Council does not want to upset the caravan parks who pay considerable rates and have to comply with many regulations at considerable cost. I also agree that there is no such thing as ‘free’ camping because yes, someone has to pay for maintaining the area. We like low cost or free camping because we are not shoved in like sardines and we are completely self contained. How about some of the local clubs (eg Lions, golf etc) getting something going at affordable cost. It happens in lots of other areas we have been to. We always patronise their bar and/or eatery as well. Just a suggestion.

10 months ago

Great idea- What about the car parks at the Old Ford Factory, only a few minutes from Corio Quay.

Keith Ambrose
10 months ago
Reply to  Marion

Don’t think you will get Ford to agree to subsidise your lap!

10 months ago
Reply to  Keith Ambrose

Ford don’t own the part of the factory I was thinking of, it’s privately own. It was just a thought I had. It would be good for Geelong.

Catherine Anne
10 months ago
Reply to  Keith Ambrose

Maybe not – but all ideas on the table.

10 months ago

No pet friendly over holiday times

Catherine Anne
10 months ago

Living in Tasmania, I m a regular Spirit Traveller, so I think its absolutely necessary and the councils would be crazy not to facilitate somewhere close to the port. Not just self-contained Spirit Travellers either as there are many with smaller vehicles need to go to the toilet and have a shower. So perhaps a tiered price structure. Smaller vehicles needing amenities to pay a bit more. Currently I stay out at Mortlake on my last night and travel in to Melbourne the day of boarding. I find the caravan parks at Barwon Heads and further in to the city frightfully expensive – so I can see why self-contained vehicle-owners would not be happy about the high prices.

Peter Opie
10 months ago

Travelling for 5 days to get to Melbourne. Finding a reasonably close van park, hmmmmm. Now try to find the ferry terminal in the rain, early in the morning, in the dark. Even with google maps, it ain’t easy. From Tassie on the other side….fantastic. Plenty of low cost areas, close by. We sppreciate this and spend , and spread the word. Make it easy, Geelong.

Ken and Jane Figg
10 months ago

We have been ‘on the road’ now for sòme time, we have seen so many families travelling, we have also noticed caravan park site prices have escalated a huge amount. We have travelled to Tasmainia a few times and prior to leaving Melbourne we stayed at a low cost c/park, not a ‘flash’ place but really nice people running it and on arrival in Tasmainia there iare a variety of places that are low cost, council run sites with availability for fully self contained units ($10p/n) Thank you Devonport you and the rest of Tasmainia is ‘setup’ for tourism. Sorry Geelong, your not, no dump point, no low cost sites. we cant afford to visit you even for fuel or groceries let alone anything else. Travellers who call into a town will usually purchase fuel, food, check out the sights around then stay if it gets late but when c/parks are the price they are travellers will avoid the town/city altogether and only call in out of necessity. It is disgusting to think that a place such as Geelong doesnt provide a public dump point but they arent alone. Some road side stòps in WA have dump points.Think about the $ that will be brought into your town by the travellets if you provide low coat camping. Spirit travellers would fill their fuel tanks, feed themselves (fruit and veg quarantine) check the town out purchase souvineers etc. With the lockdown Victoria has had, open your arms to the low cost travellers encourage them to stay with cheap camping. Anyway Spirit why arent you encouraging Geelong to provide a service for your Travellers, heres another idea Spirit purchases a site that can hold your travellers for the night prior to travel with dump point and water point, the entrants must have their Spirit ticket to enter. Then perhaps the problem would be solved, also Geelong just might see how many $ are not coming into the area for not supplying a required service. Just a thought.

Guy Williams
10 months ago

Very good comment.

10 months ago

Ahh yes, Geelong!! A few years ago planned on staying a few days to stock up, fuel groceries etc. prior to travelling the Great Ocean Road to SA. Pulled into a caravan park and when told the price it was nearly double the price in the caravan book. I queried the price & the lady? said ‘public holiday’, take it or leave it, I’ll leave it thank you.

Betty McCabe
10 months ago

Good idea Ken and Jane Figg!
If I have to pay a lot to stay in an expensive packed park I spend less in the town in the way of shopping. If the town is good enough to supply a lowcost camp and dump point I like to give back to the community. I think supplying those facilities is a way of saying you want caravaners there. If nit I am happy to move on to a town that is.

Annette Furner
10 months ago

We would definitely stay in Geelong for an extended period should facilities be provided allowing us to camp up in a safe location in our fully self-contained motorhome. We have family history in the region we would love to spend more time exploring. We look forward to visiting places like the Geelong Gallery, National Wool Museum and Geelong Museum of Motoring & Industry.


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