‘The campsites are better … but you must book online!’

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Contos campsite in WA
Stunning Contos Beach is a big drawcard for grey nomads

Being forced to book national park campsites online in advance is a system despised by many grey nomads, yet its use continues to spread.

The popular Western Australian campsites of Conto near Margaret River and Martins Tank at Yalgorup National Park can now be booked up to six months in advance using the Park Stay website. Other popular WA parks such as Purnululu, Cape Range, Beelu, and Lane Poole Reserve are already available for online booking.  Lane Poole Reserve, on the banks of the Murray River near Dwellingup, was one of the first WA campgrounds to go digital.

Today, Lane Poole is one of 15 campsites that can be booked online in the state. WA’s Department of Parks and Wildlife has also launched a mobile application, ParkFinder, to help guide people to parks and campgrounds in the state.

According to Tourism Council chief executive Evan Hall, allowing campgrounds to be booked online enhances their overall appeal.

“As outdoor experiences and ecotourism are growing in popularity among travellers, it is important for the campgrounds to embrace the digital age,” Mr Hall said. “Our natural assets, such as national parks, are some of the state’s most appealing aspects for visitors, so it is important they are bookable online as booking websites become increasingly trusted as the way to plan holidays.”

However, many grey nomads dislike the uncertainty surrounding the whole procedure of booking an unfamiliar campground … especially with concerns about the lack of internet connection in many remote areas, and the loss of flexibility.

“I absolutely detest being forced to book online,” said grey nomad, Caron H. “I want spontaneity on my journey and I want to be able to decide when I get there if I like it enough to stay.”

The WA Government spent $21.05 million in 2014-15 to add 271 new campsites to national parks and reserves and to upgrade facilities.

Among the improvements are a new $3 million campground at Logue Brook which has delivered 126 new sites, a new campground in Dryandra Woodland, and a new $250,000 new campground at the Credo Conservation Park in the Goldfields.

And WA’s most visited national park, the Leeuwin Naturaliste National Park has seen a $1.1 million expansion at the Conto campground providing 29 new sites and full wi-fi connectivity.

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