Cut-price camping a bridge too far for park owners

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Showground camping row at Murray Bridge
Murray Bridge van park owners are resisting showground camping

Caravan park operators in Murray Bridge are fighting moves to allow cut-price camping at the South Australian town’s showgrounds.
The local council wants to offer free short-term parking and subsidised multiple night stays to self-contained RV travellers … but park owners are not happy.
Four of them, calling themselves the Murraylands Tourism Partnership, have dismissed the move as anti-competitive, and say it will severely damage their businesses.
Three of the four parks opposing the move are already up for sale: Princes Highway Caravan Park, Long Island Caravan Park and Avoca Dell.
The co-manager of the White Sands Riverfront Caravan Park, Tom Hines, said the move would be disastrous.
“If you look around the region most caravan parks are for sale because they are doing it tough – and this will make it worse,” he told the Murray Valley Standard. “At the moment during the busy time of year we get between 10 and 20 RVs staying.”
He said to lose this income would be crippling … not just for the parks, but for the whole region.
The Murraylands Tourism Partnership has written to the council to express its opposition.
“The owners are unhappy that the rural city of Murray Bridge would consider supporting travellers seeking a cheap holiday which results in the council having to use ratepayers’ funds to allow for security, cleaning, policing, public liability, water, dump points etc,” the letter stated. “They feel that the economic value of this market is well over-stated and doesn’t represent the portion of travellers that are less than desirable and do not offer value to the community, but rather cost the community.”
However, Murray Bridge council chief executive officer Peter Bond disagreed. He said enticing grey nomads and other travellers to the town would be good business.
“In 2008 the Caravan Park Industry of Australia (CCIA) reported that there were 70,000-80,000 mobile tourists on the road in Australia at any given time,” he said. “Goodness knows how many are on the road these days, especially with the number of baby boomers retiring and taking to the road.”
Mr Bond said once an RV stopped in town, those aboard visited shops, had a meal and visited attractions.
“Usually an RV park is catering only for self-contained vehicles that have all the facilities of a modern unit but on wheels,” he said. “They have the capacity to stay for a while without allowing any wastewater onto the ground – they leave without a trace.”


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15 Responses to Cut-price camping a bridge too far for park owners

  1. Dear Editor,
    In regard to the article in “Nomad News” about Murray Bridge CV Parks up in arms about the local council considering low cost camping at the show grounds, well maybe the CV Parks should consider a lower rate to entice Grey Nomads who don’t need jumping castles, palygrounds or pools, we only need power, water and clean toilets/showers. I for one would use CV Parks more often instead of about to set up for Solar Power etc to help reduce cost’s. I also spend money locally at tourist attractions and food outlets when in a town. DOUG

  2. We are pensioners, we can’t afford every night over 30 dollars stays, however it is perfect legal to park legal along street as long as in driveable settup, no-one can make you drive when you are tired. fatique laws override all local laws, just like my days as truckdriver all over the country. Insist of calling police when harrassed by rangers or who-ever, refuse giving name untill officer present, he knows the law , and claim you were tired and all should be sweet. that is the traffic law.

  3. The phrase” less than desirable” says it all. Change your attitude, park owners, and you may see more of us grey nomads. Lowering your fees (as suggested by DOUG) would also be a good start.

  4. Go back to when caravan parks filled every space with cabins did we hear motel owners crying poor ??

  5. The four parks joining together have destroyed their own competition were they just greedy in the first place or bad bussines people compet with the council and prove your ability

  6. I am at a loss to understand why the Chambers of Commerce in these towns are not more proactive in this debate about low cost/free camping for Grey Nomads. There are other businesses that would benefit, it should be not just about CV Parks. The towns of Ravenshoe and Home Hill spring immediatley to mind, they are wonderful spots for a stopover.

    • some of the councils are so small minded, it begs believe, one stating that grey nomads spend no money, buy nothing, what a nonsense, we buy food, fuel, visit the places all over like in barcaldine, many grey nomads willl give a miss now with showgrounds closed of very dear, I hear around 21 dollar a night. caravanpark 24. that ground was very popular and you did pay small fee, than spend in town.

    • I also would like to commend the towns of Homehill and Ravenshoe for the very comfortable and clean facilities provided at the respective stopovers.It was very welcome at Homehill as it also gave me an opportunity to walk along the street and choose where I spent my dollars, instead of all going to a caravan parks swimming pool cleaning costs fund or providing a jumping castle for littlies which are at most public parks in towns the people at the free showers and toilets also told us where to buy fuel, groceries and lotto tickets

    • Not everyone wishes to go to caravan park, you may as well be in suburbia, however we travel and if a town is RV friendly we plan our shopping,fuel etc in exchange for a free overnight camp. Then we go to the towns exhibits. I understand business is tough but in the end those traveling will stop before the town then visit during the day and move on to the next free camp. Kristine

  7. We have been travelling for almost 2 years, have found a number of caravan park people give us grey nomads a discount, knowing that we will spend money on food, fuel, shopping, etc. word of mouth is a fantastic advertisement, sorry for you greedy caravan park owners

  8. Dear Editor,
    As the owner/operators of the Princes Highway Caravan Park, we would like to clarify the misinformed. Our caravan park is for sale because we have operated our business for more than fourteen year & a half years & are hoping to retire from a 7 day a week business. We have not fallen on tough times as suggested by Tom Hines who we do not even know and for that matter he knows nothing about the day to day operations of our park or Avoca Dell Caravan Park or Long Island Caravan Park & Marina.
    We have nothing against free camping, we would rather it not happen in our town proper and until the Murray Valley Standard article dated 13th December 2012 knew nothing of councils intention to allow camping at the Showgrounds. We like the other parks in Murray Bridge have invested a lot of dollars into the Murray Bridge Community and who are these people to assume that we are greedy, is it wrong to protect our livelihoods.
    In the past 10 years our energy & water costs have increased by 200% have yours our site fees within that time have increased by 60%
    Our tariffs are currently $27.00 per night for 2 people, we offer a discount to our Oz Parks Members, CMCA Members & other Groups that Oz Parks is associated with. We also have a swimming pool which was built over 30 years ago, many people used it on the 4th January 2013 when the temperature soared to a top of 45.6 degrees and for the record we do not have a playground or jumping castle.
    In closing i would like to thank all of those tourists who have supported us over the last 14 & a half years many of whom have returned time & time again.
    Kind Regards, Wendy & Kym Shearing

  9. Caravan park owners don’t be so greedy and we’ll stop in more often. I am self contained so how can you justify charging me $30 a night?

  10. If caravan parks were not so greedy for charging the earth on unpowered and powered camping sites they might get their parks filled more often.
    Anyway most people that want free or low cost camping in a van or a tent do so for the number one reason THEY CANNOT AFFORD HIGH FEES JUST FOR A CEMENT SLAB OR PIECE OF GRASS

  11. go grey nomads go”””””’$15 dollars a night should be enough for power and shower I say” also pensioners don’t forget to send in your weekly rates paid for by filling in the centrelink rental form that’s covers caravanners. cheers all and happy camping.

  12. When you travel for an extended period of time one cannot afford what the caravan parks are asking. If we get free camping or low cost camping we are more inclined to stay for a few days, spend some money in town on coffee, meals, groceries etc. And entrance fees to museums etc. If there is no free camping we are just as likely to keep going. For example last time we were in Murray Bridge we stayed at the Showgrounds and spent $800 have a three pressure gauge fitted as we were heading north on dirt roads. The best we have been quoted was $65 for an unpowered site 40 km outside Melbourne!!!

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