‘Sorry! Go into town to pay the new camping fee’

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Dumaresq Dam near Armidale free camping for grey nomads
Free camping ... but not for much longer!

Another popular free camping site in New South Wales could soon be charging overnighting grey nomads and others a ‘nominal’ fee.

In the not-too-distant future, campers at Dumaresq Dam near Armidale can expect to be charged a fee of up to $10 a night.

The Dumaresq Dam Progress Association is in the process of drafting a new management plan for the site, which is used by locals for picnics, fishing, bushwalking and kayaking, as well as by grey nomads.

The group’s chairwoman, Maria Hitchcock, said it had ruled out stationing a caretaker at the site and would either ask visitors to pay the new fee at the Visitors Information Centre in Armidale, or use an honesty box. Making travellers drive 12 kilometres into town to pay appears to be the favoured option at this stage. 

The Association also discussed creating a recycling station at the site, with specialised bins for campers, as part of the site’s revamp.

There would also be a maximum limit of 15 campsites and camp times would be capped at a month.

The Armidale Express newspaper spoke to campers at Dumaresq Dam, many of whom rejected the idea of a fee, saying it would force them to stay elsewhere.

: “I spend $400 a week to travel, and I’m just one person,” grey nomad Nobby Young, 67, told the newspaper. “An honesty box would be the way to go.,”

Another camper, who was going to have his vehicle serviced, see a doctor, and have his prescriptions filled while staying at the campsite, said: “If you impose a fee, we go elsewhere.”

But many campers told the Armidale Express they were willing to contribute to the site’s upkeep but would prefer an honesty box.

The draft plan still needs the nod of Armidale Dumaresq Council and will be discussed at a later meeting. 

Have you stayed at Dumaresq Dam? Is a fee of ‘up to $10’ fair? Would being forced to make a special trip into the Armidale Visitor Information Centre to pay a camping fee be too inconvenient? Comment below.

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31 Responses to ‘Sorry! Go into town to pay the new camping fee’

  1. Not only do Councils want you to spend money in their towns (and of course I do not have a problem with this) but they also want to rip it out of you to hang over in the parks. One reason our Van sits in the garage and only goes out for special occasions.

  2. I reckon it would be better to have a caretaker, instead of having to travel the 12kl mentioned to pay, and I dont think honesty boxes work too well. Most people are honest but!!!!!! What would be the cost to have a grey nomad parked up for a season in his own unit, as caretaker for free power, water etc.

    • too simple. agree totally with your logic.

  3. Stayed there recently, would not have a problem paying up to $10/night. We drove into town and visited the information centre so paying there should not be a problem. Honesty box probably the better option but would be open to abuse. Then again so would paying in town. Good luck, we will be back.

    • I agree with you Tony,to pay a small fee is nothing,.

  4. What do the day visitors pay to use the amenities why do campers & grey nomads have to foot the bill

    • Because the day visitors are locals and already pay rates towards keeping the toilets clean and the area free of garbage. Surely $10 per night isn’t to much but I’ve seen many people ignore honesty boxes. I think 4 weeks is to long if it’s only going to 12/13 sites

    • Good question , I would like an answer to that , as well.

  5. My wife and I once owned and lived on a yacht. Wilst undergoing repairs it was mored in the Dry boat repair section of the Gladstone marina. This was under private owner ship and our $250 per week went to the owner. Then management of the then Gladstone ports ordered us to pay them another $50 a week because we used their footpaths, enjoyed their street lighting and MAY yes MAY use their pubic amenities if we left the yard. All these things enjoyed daily by Gladstone residents. This folks is a true story and may well become the norm for us now caravaners, Cheers in your travels Graeme and Lin Wardlaw. Rodds Bay Qld

  6. I agree with Brian Laird about day visitors,i am the caretaker of a campsite in WA and the day callers are a disgusting lot,mainly the locals,as far as a small payment,what is wrong with helping the council with the costs,if you dont want to pay go elsewhere,it will end up Australia wide soon,its the old saying you get nothing for free now and it will get worse.

  7. I pay Council rates where I live, VIC, So do most other Grey Nomads, Pay Council rates,

    Do the people from the Armidale Council expect to go every else and not pay,

    Or, do they want every one to charge every body, For every thing,

    That Excess Charging Business go’s both ways,

    You charge for nothing, We go else where for nothing,

    And that elsewhere gets all the cash from the Grey Nomads and all else who

    are now travelling our roads,

    And its too late to Complain after they have all gone else where, and your

    town is known as a Rip Off Town on the Internet,

    Hahahaha, Google will shoot you in the other foot, Hahahahaha

  8. We recently stayed at the dam & liked it so much stayed an extra week. $ 10 would be OK as long as they supplied water . The tank doesnt last long with the day use people & campers all using it. I guess user pays will become the norm but towns that want our business know what we are worth to their economies

  9. I wonder how much the day users pay to use the recreation area. If we are to have users pay then bring on the daily charge to all and sundry not just someone looking for a peaceful spot and to lay their head down at night. I live at at a very popular seaside area and I can’t wait to have a charge put on the 50,000 day trippers that arrive here every day in the summer. About time they paid their way also. Then we can drop the overnight fee’s.

  10. Chaffey Dam near Tamworth charge $5/vehicle/day and ALL pay. showers are a gold coin donation and there is a 7 day limit. why is Dumaresq so special it warrants a $10 fee? I think they need to take another look at what other regions are doing or they will lose visitors. the caravanners grapevine is faster than the NBN ever will be.

  11. Yet another town falling for the hype from Caravan Parks…
    48 hours would be plenty as longer stayers develop slums…
    I prefer no fee but if you must I suggest a ranger or on site caretaker collects it daily.. Any other collection method is open to abuse…
    I suggest that if charges become widespread many of us pensioners on $410.00 a week will not be able to afford to travel.. Many will stay at home, motorhomes and caravans will be put on the market,
    creating a glut of cheap alternatives to the new vehicles.. The Caravan parks behind this push for councils to charge for formerly free camps will miss out in the long term as we who are off the road no longer will be staying at their Caravan parks as we now do for 3-4 week a year..

  12. Has anyone tried to reconcile the fact that you can park all day, every day, free in any town recreational park or rest stop, use the facilities, (b-b-q, water, toilets & sometimes showers). but if you were to stay overnight then a charge seems to be warranted. It must be something in the night air. I don’t know, I am usually inside asleep & miss it.

  13. Might be a good idea to have a Grey Nomad as a caretaker in exchange for a free site etc… Have to think about security for the money collected though… $150 every day soon mounts up – and plenty of desperado’s who wouldn’t think twice…
    Other thing is: if he’s authorised to act on behalf of the council, wouldn’t that make him an employee..? – and the council would be subject to all the rules and regs pertaining to employing someone, including payroll, OH&S, supervision, training, and all the other billshut that seems to apply to workplaces these days…
    Rather cynical about the “Honesty Box”. I’ve seen too many empty ones to have any faith in that…
    Last: Have to wonder whether the $150 a day the council “hopes” to collect in the “Honesty box” will actually cover all the admin costs of this scheme..?? How often will they be sending one of their accounts dept clerks out to empty the honesty box.? Wouldn’t want $150 / $300 / $450/ $600 in the box for too long… Two hours pay, (has to collect the money and then go back to the office to ledger it etc.) pool car, fuel: three times a week on Mondays Wednesdays and Fridays..?? Who’s gonna do the 6 hrs equivalent work of that clerk..?? That’s a day’s work in a council office..!! They’d have to employ a part-timer or bring in a casual… I wonder if this has been thought through – or is it another example of an illogical decision made at a council meeting??

  14. I personally see both sides of story but if council/whoever overcharge?
    like some say they stop some other town. when I go camping I buy in town because it seems fair and I cant store a heap of stuff in a cerato or the corolla. as I said there is always 2 sides to a story and we all need to listen carefully.

  15. A good idea,but need to have a better way to collect the fees and monitor the length of stays.
    Don’t go blaming the progress association for implementing these changes ,go blame the people who abuse these type of places that used to be free,who more or less take over a certain area for lengthy free stays. If all these type of places were turned into user pay and limited stays we all might have a chance of enjoying these places instead of the select lot of free loaders.,who end up turning the area into a shanty town. If these places are to continue to stay open there has to be some restrictions put in place to protect it from these type of travellers..

  16. Taken from an article which appeared in the Armidale Independent 21 Nov 13.
    It seems that Maria Hitchcock may have changed her mind in regard to this issue since her comments went to press.

    PEOPLE holidaying in caravans could bypass Armidale if plans to enforce paid camping at Dumaresq Dam proceed.
    That’s the view of Dumaresq Progress Association executives Maria Hitchcock and Gavin Waters, who say Armidale will miss out on valuable visitors if caravaners are forced to pay to stay at the council-owned recreation facility.
    “Some people don’t want to stay in a caravan park and enjoy the peace and quiet that Dumaresq Dam has to offer,” Ms Hitchcock said.
    “This draft plan put forward by council says campers would not only have to pay, but would also have to drive into town and pay at the information centre.”
    Mr Waters, who is a regular caravaner, said word would quickly spread among travellers about the lack of free camping in Armidale and families and grey nomads would simply bypass the town.
    “It happened at Mudgee and there was outcry,” he said.
    “Look at what free camping does to Bingara, there are caravaners staying there all the time, yet it’s a quiet little town.”
    Armidale Dumaresq councillor Margaret O’Connor, who is the delegate for the Dumaresq area, said she would fight to have free camping remain at the dam.
    “Council staff are saying that legislative guidelines mean it is required to charge campers, however I would like to see if there is a loophole,” she said.
    “This is a matter that came before council a while ago, where it was decided not to charge campers, although this was subsequently subsceded in the draft plan.”

  17. If the council so desperately want’s that $10 of everyone that want’s to Stay Over night.. Well I think they can just come and collect it themselves..

    If they do bring this Policy in that you need to drive 12k’s to pay.. I hope they give a discount for the Fuel used to travel that 12k’s..

    I think I would just use the Adage Sorry Officer I was tired and Pulled over to Rest, so that I don’t have an Accident.. and Just Blow right thru Armidale and get my fuel and supplies somewhere else..

    Really.. this smack’s of discrimination.. You can not charge one group and not charge the rest.. if they want to bring in a fee system.. Then ALL should pay for the privilege, not just the overnight’s..

    Look at the sum’s.. If full 24/7
    $150 per night
    $1050 For the Week..
    The Toilet’s and Facilities would want to be 100%
    How many day visitor do they get..?

    sorry Armidale.. I was think’n about stop thru on my Travel.. Not Now..


  18. Has no one visited a place called Homehill., Qld. Fantastic. All councils should take a visit to this little thriving town, which was dying before grey nomads came, Great example of how life could be everywhere for the travelling public, free toilets, hot showers, beautiful kitchen facilities even piped music in the toilets, if you haven,t stayed there do yourself a favour and put it on your must stays. Congrats to the Ayr Shire win win for all.

  19. We enjoyed staying a few days at and commuting from Dumaresq Dam, during which time we patronised a number of different businesses in town. Fourteen kilometres each way per day plus drives to the waterfalls meant we purchased extra fuel than if travelling through.

    Go into town to pay? Although the visitor centre advertises large rig parking, it was not easy to park and manoeuvre a large rig there. I can’t see all the caravans and large motorhomes being able to come to pay for their permits without suitable parking provided.

  20. I don’t think theres any problem with paying 10$ a night, when we leave home for holidays we have to expect to pay our way, and not expect it all for nothing, really paying 10$ is nothing compared to C/Parks and if one cant pay that then why are we travelling.It seems to be that some Grey Nomads want it all one way,,,use Parks and facilities and not pay a cent towards their travels, some C/Parks slug like wounded bulls so we can either free camp where permitted, or go to National Parks where we may have to pay a small fee, our choice , our responsibility if we want to travel, as far as honesty boxes, they can be abused so that woulnt pay to put them in. At the end of the day if the Councils etc want to charge these fees they will, I would still buy in the town, much cheaper than Park fees.

  21. Really I feel that we all are prepared to pay a small amount around the $10.00 mark but if we pay then day trippers who leave their rubbish everywhere must also pay. The idea of one of us the RV Traveller staying there as caretaker id the way to go maybe a roster could be easily worked out where one can stay a month there at no cost but act as a caretaker, but not a cleaner this should be done by council folk.

  22. Looks like another town to cross of my list. Thankfully there are still a lot of places around like Homehill as Helen mentioned, were the local council’s appreciate the worth of the grey nomads. To many cashed up part time caravaners traveling around now days, playing at being grey nomads, and willing to pay good money for very basic facilities does not help in these matters.

  23. we had two weeks at the dam back in november we loved it i do not mind paying a little like $5.00 a night .they would have to up grade the toilets if it was going to be $ 10.00 a night . while we were there we bought a new water tank $100.battery cheager$200 food $200 fuel $100. and $50 to have a look at the old home with lunch so please do not get to greedy. and i picked up a lot of rubbsh that day uses lift behind.and yes grey nomads do spend there money. yes i would play the fees in town we i went for water

  24. Having left Dumaresq Dam last week after couple of days would not pay $10. Sure is lovely spot, however the toilets are poor, no town water. At most $5 a night or $25 week.
    From observation the day trippers are the ones that leave the rubbish around and ourselves and other travelers picked up the rubbish as the council only come on Monday and Friday to empty bins.
    While we don’t spend money in caravan parks we spend it in town on other things. Not having an unlimited amount of money can’t afford $200 to $300 a week on caravan parks. That would leave us broke. We prefer to spend our money around other businesses in town and not just the ONE caravan park. If we paid caravan park fees there would be nothing left to spend on anything else.

  25. $5 per night per person is ok if they are supplying potable water and coin operated showers. I think that a 10 day max limit per stay would be a good idea.

  26. I haven’t been to this Dam, but I’d pay $10 as long as there was water, toilets and showers.

  27. Is teir plenty of parking at the information centre?
    We would be coming into town with a motorhome and a car with a trailor
    What if we pay and get out there and it’s full?

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