The problems that can arise when landowners seek to quietly allow grey nomads and other travellers to camp on their properties is being highlighted by a showdown in Western Australia.
A couple which owns the Yabby Farm in Chadwick north of Esperance has just been told by council to update their facilities or stop allowing campers on their land.
Jackie and Steven Smith want planning approval to allow travellers to stay on their property, but that has not yet been granted. According to Council, the Smiths were told back in 2014 that Chadwick was under specific residential zoning law, and rezoning would have to be applied if they wished to continue using the property for camping.
The Esperance Express reports that the council received nine written complaints from local residents, mainly relating to access.
“I witnessed earlier this year a coach bus towing a trailer with a Toyota LandCuiser on it damage the end of Warden Road near our driveway,” residents Marcia and Trevor Walter said in their written report to Council. “The bus was parked at the Yabby Farm just before attempting to turn around.”
However, Mr and Mrs Smith have defended their decision to allow people to camp on their land, saying it had started simply as a way of letting friends stay in a quiet area while travelling.
“No one said anything to us before all of this action started – I wish someone had,” Ms Smith said. “We’ve lived here for more than 20 years. We’d be the first people to be concerned about environmental damage or fires.”
Ms Smith said the popularity of the site had increased after a friend had posted information about it on a popular caravan forum on the internet.
“We did have some friends recommend the site on a popular website,” said Mr Smith. “But we can’t control that.”
Council is expected to make a final decision on the site in the near future.
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