‘It’s our land, why can’t grey nomads camp here?’

Published: November 18, 2016
Campers at Yabby Farm Esperance

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.

·         Do you think camping on private land needs to be strictly regulated? Comment below.


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Sue Murphy
5 years ago

If you have only been there 20 yrs you will never be a local and your input will mean nothing. Esperance district is the most clicky stuck up area i have ever lived in. I spent 12 months there running a caravan park. The locals do not want visitors. Good Luck.

Kevin Conoplia
5 years ago

Bloody Councils if taken to task will lose over this as know a few who have beaten them around the country, mind there own business. If it is a Commercial farm property Zoned for these activities how can they come up with excuse such as shown above. If I had friends/family coming to my private property to stay that’s my business as long as it doesn’t interfere with neighbors.

Nigel Scott
5 years ago

The bylaws in England allow a land owner to provide a space on their land for travellers to rest while travelling. There is a limit in number of travellers and in time resting which from memory is something like 6 travellers for 6 nights at any one time. These bylaws go back centuries. We have used them when we caravaned in the UK. This was continued, organised, I believe by the Caravan Club. Similar here would be the go. In fact both the CMCA and the ACC have a few member stays here now this could be expanded to include other landowners of minimum acerage outside the main cities with restricted numbers and time as in England.

John wearn
5 years ago

This type of action by council is definately stepping outside of their sphere of authority. If a person wants to allow friends to camp on their property so be it. If it wS me I would probably tell them to mind their own business.

5 years ago

If this happens what will happen to all the free camping for Nomads. As retired people are on the road for months it would become unafordable to travel because regulation often means costs of some sort,

Gaylene Herrmann
5 years ago

Just a question! If there was damage done who paid for repairs to Warren Road? The van owners (visitors), the property owners or council.

5 years ago

so if a delivery truck damaged the road nothing would have been said

5 years ago

I park my van in my back yard. My grand children stay over and for a treat stay in the van over night with an adult. Does this mean I breach council bylaws. My property my van. How many people park their own van on their own property . Possibly 90% or more. Council should pull their head in and leave Vaners alone

Mark Farenden
5 years ago

Mark said, It’s a business that should expect visitors, the council would have known that when the farm first opened for business. Visitors use the road in when they arrive and again when they leave. If there happens to be a night in between, the road use and wear and tear is exactly the same. Apart from that, when I leave in the morning…I’d be fresh, leaving the evening before…I’d be fatigued. The powers that be have been telling us all for years…don’t drive…survive !. Grow up Esperance, we have.

5 years ago

Some advice for anyone wanting to set up a campground. Before outlaying any money, doing work or advertising, you should:
1) Check your land zoning with your local council to see if your land is actually zoned for this kind of use. If not, see how you can apply to get it changed and be fully informed about costs involved.
2) Advise your neighbours of your intentions and ask their opinions, to ensure there will be no objections before investing your valuable time and money.
3) Be aware that there is a huge difference between letting family and friends stay for free on your land for a certain amount of time, and running a campground for travellers year-round and charging them.
Esperance is a stunning area and has lots of caravan parks and plenty of low-cost camping grounds within some spectacular National Parks and Shire-run campgrounds that even allow dogs. There is an overflow area in the peak times. Having travelled around Australia, I still find coming home and walking the Esperance beaches, driving the “Great Ocean Drive”, hiking through the Cape Le Grand National Park (and grabbing an ice-coffee from the Lucky Bean van at Lucky Bay), walking / cycling along the newly built foreshore, doing a cruise through the islands of the Archipelago Recherche, to be extremely uplifting. If you choose not to visit Esperance because of this one decision, then I believe you are missing out on a jewel.

4 years ago

Could you help us find a low cost campsite for a famly Of 6 with 24’ Base Station and a couple with a19’ Coromal, in the Esperance area for End March 2018?


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