The Queensland Government is considering locking up a public car park at Noosa National Park overnight in a bid to stop people camping there.
Parking at the beachside location is free although it is capped at two- and four-hour limits — but many visitors ignore the restrictions. The ABC reports that more than $13,000 in fines have been handed out to overstayers there in the first months of 2021.
Every one of the 50 campers caught overstaying their welcome so far this year has been hit with a $266 fine.
Noosa Council officers have apparently been going vehicle to vehicle feeling for cold engine bonnets and targeting travellers they suspected of staying longer.
The Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service (QPWS) installed gates on the entry to the larger car park late last year, and closed them at night during Schoolies celebrations. The QPWS is now preparing to start discussions with the Noosa Council and other interest groups on its proposal to close the gates from 8pm-4am each night.
Independent Noosa MP Sandy Bolton said travellers know there are some places where they are not allowed to park or camp.
“If you have some who are there all day and all night, that precludes others from having that same experience,” she told the ABC. “Going back in time when it was legal to park in those areas overnight, there were huge issues, you’re not talking one or two, you’re talking hundreds … they’re parking all through residential streets, the amenities of residents was severely impacted.”
Ms Bolton said there were campervan sites and caravan parks nearby where people can spend the night without using the public car park.
However, one local, Julie Ember, told the ABC that she enjoyed meeting the visiting campers, even if they were breaching local laws.
“What I see every morning is a community of people that wake up and have coffee and they’re happy,” she said, adding that it was great to see different people from different socio-economic groups and from different cultures. “When you minimise it down, we’re going to see the same faces with the same opinions with the same money and the same everything — that’s a bit boring.”