New question mark over free camping in Tassie

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Grey nomads free camping in Tassie
Free camping is an important part of the experience for many grey nomads

New rules handed down by the Tasmanian Government could see councils around the state reconsidering their free camping offerings.
After a long and arduous investigation into the issue, a final report from the Department of Treasury and Finance has moved to ensure that all local authorities involved in providing campsites, are competing on fair and equal terms with private sector businesses.

Tasmania’s Sunday Mercury reports that the rules may force some councils to charge full costs for a number of previously free camping sites, or prove the provision of the public campsites benefits the community.

It says councils must limit their public, non-powered campsites to no more than 10% of all camping offerings within a 60 kilometre radius.

If the number goes above 10%, councils must either start charging full costs for the sites or prove the public sites provide a public benefit.

The ruling comes after an investigation by the Economic Regulator was launched following complaints from a number of businesses opposed to camping and overnight RV parking.

Local Government Association of Tasmania CEO Katrena Stephenson told the Mercury that the report should help reduce confusion about what could be offered by councils, especially those in rural and regional areas where most of the free or subsidised camping occurs.

The bottom line is that some councils may now have to consider charging for sites, or raise their subsidised camping rates, to ensure they are not undercutting the competitive market.

Alternatively, some may seek to prove their sites provide a net public benefit.

“Public benefit might be related to some large events that simply couldn’t go ahead without public camping,” Ms Stephenson said.
She said the councils likely to be most affected were Meander Valley, West Coast, Break O’Day, Central Coast, Waratah-Wynyard and Huon Valley.

However, Dr Stephenson said complying with the new rules may be difficult to regulate as some public campgrounds were too remote for council authorities to regularly police.

• Would a significant reduction in the number of free or cut-price camps in Tasmania make you re-consider future trips to the Apple Isle? Comment below.

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57 Responses to New question mark over free camping in Tassie

  1. Yep it would never seen a more protected business as CP owners, give what people want and they will come & stay with you. I would.

  2. This type of manipulation will make people think twice about travelling around Tasmania?

    • absolutely right! This will ruin the industry in Tasmania. For grey nomads from the mainland the cost of getting to Tasmania is big enough without having to pay for caravan parks. Open up your showgrounds at a competitive price and the nomads will be shopping in your towns, spending money on tourist “things’ as well as your supermarkets, bottle shops, service stations etc!

  3. Yes. The cost to get the caravan to Tasmania is offset by the free camping available when there. The holiday is too expensive if we have to pay the SOT fares and then camping fees. If we free camp we always support the local community by buying fuel, grocers or exploring local attractions so we feel we contribute to the economic community but not just to the local caravan park owner.

    • WA pulled this, no free camps, in the 1990’s & charged excessive fees for run down caravan parks. People stopped going so now they are crying out for us to return. No way; once bitten. So many other welcoming places to see

  4. On a recent 3 month trip to Tasmania we spent approx. $7000 and $2000 on the boat. We intended to come back to spend maybe 9 – 12 months next time because we enjoyed it so much. We spent a lot of money in the small towns where we had free camping. If these free camps disappear we will not consider coming back. We spent some time in caravan parks and we found that with for our 20′ van the sites were very tight and some too small.

    • We understand CP owners as they have invested in their business they have to understand we won’t travel across the straight due to the cost and than be squeezed where you cannot open your annex. Sadly it’s the small businesses around the state that gets hurt again as their costs keep rising and the flow on is more unemployment and less tax to the state

  5. I would think twice. We use caravan parks as well as free camping. We always spend money in the towns when camping. Unfortunately some caravan parks do not cater for our motorhome and trailer as we are 18 ft long. I do believe there is a need for all types of traveling

  6. Seems like the Tasmanian Government can’t see past the end of their nose. If these restrictions come in I am sure it will deter people from coming over with their vans………. We were planning and very much looking forward to coming over and staying for at least 3 months, but I know we are now having second thoughts. A return trip of $2,000 or there about to get over on the boat can go along way towards fuel on the mainland.

  7. For sure. We were considering seeing more of the island with our van, even though our daughter lives there, for 6-9 months next year, not now.
    Wonder how long before this type of regulation is really adopted by mainland states and territories as well?
    When we stay in a CP, it’s one that does not “offer” all the add-on features, you all know what i mean.

  8. The cost of getting to Tasmania is definitely offset by the use of some free camps. We are fully self contained, but still buy local wherever we stay. We also break this up by some stays in caravan parks to provide security when exploring. Surely there is a need for both free camps and van parks.

  9. It would definitely not make me want to even come to Tasmania and we all know who’s behind the push to close them being caravan park owners!, it is expensive enough just to get the SOT over and back and if we can’t free camp sometimes we just won’t bother full stop none of my money will be spent there!, shame as Greed takes over from hospitality

  10. With the cost of The Spirit most definitely rethink my visit if free camping was mimimised. One reason we all love Tassie so much is there free camping. Our money goes to many businesses not just to caravan parks

  11. Once again van parks are trying to destroy tourism in their neck of the woods. If they cant get it no one will. And yet coucils keep giving in to them to the detriment of the rest of the businesses

  12. The best option for C.P businesses is to actually think like a business. Adapt and change your park to what some customers require. Some customers require low cost minimal facilities so provide that and they will come.
    More and more c.p install cabins. Would that be intruding on the motelling industry ??

  13. I have had two very long time stays in Tasmania camping, mostly free camps, I always spend money in the towns that allow this free camping. With the price of the boat to bring a RV and vehicle over the free camping makes it affordable to come to Tassie, we absolutely love the place, I might point out as well the amount of others rubbish we have picked up and burnt or dumped to help keep the camps clean is many. We have strict camp ethics in regards to cleanliness, respect, etc. We do this as we know a lot of councils are quick to blame Grey Nomads, they need to get out there and free camp and observe people, they’d get a shock, its not the grey nomads doing it, may get the odd one but we all appreciate being able to free camp, it’s the freedom. Please be careful changing all of this as you may find the wee towns and country places will suffer from less tourists, it will hurt the industry. Cheers Judy

  14. It’s because there’s a fair amount of free camping in Tasmania that helps after the $2000 fare for car and caravan, that i would consider going to tassie, (and i am). But if this was to go ahead i would definitely not bother, plenty of small towns on the mailand who would appreciate my and others $2000 plus dollars..

  15. Having had two previous trips to Tasmania one for 3 months and one for 6 months we would love to return. On hearing the news about freedom camps we will have to wait and see and maybee have to spend out travel dollars on the mainland if these changes to freedom camping were to come into force. It seems that Caravan Park owners have power over Governments in some places. Where this has happened there has been a significant drop in tourism and money spent by tourists in the changed areas surely this income from the freedom camping tourists benefits these communities. If this were to be the case as Caravan parks do not have enough spaces for all the travellers going to Tasmania. I can see this having a profound effect on smaller communities financially in Tasmania all because of the greed of caravan Park owners

  16. A classic case of killing the goose that lays the golden egg. We are reconsidering our trip to the apple isle until this is resolved. On a pension, definitely out of the question without access to free camps.

  17. We live in Tasmania and know the cost involved in taking a caravan across Bass Strait. I should think having to pay more camping fees either in caravan parks or what we’re once free camps will see vanning visitors to our state drop considerably. People only have a certain amount of money. In our travels we have heard endless people say the ferry ride to Tasmania is to dear but the free camping is great. No free camps not many visitors I’d say. If you can’t use a free camp because of caravan parks. Maybe cabins should be removed from caravan parks for Hotel, Motels and Band B sake

  18. I would never take a caravan to Tasmania let alone pay for caravan park sites. It is cheaper to fly, rent a car and stay at bed and B&B’s.

  19. We are in Tazzy now and we will not be back if we have to pay caravan park prices for a plot of ground and basic amanaties,I love the options you have now why go and throw a spanner in the works.people are coming now cause you have options for all ,if you change people will look elsewhere.It costs to get here and back ,But I will head elsewhere as that money I will have to spent to come here I could have traveled half way around Australia ,Shame ….

  20. We were going to go to Tas for three months this year but with the price of the SOT and free camping being cut we will spend our money in Victoria.
    We do around 50/50 free and CP but parks in Tas are expensive.I doubt we will ever return to Tas now.

  21. We are in Tassie at the moment staying for 3 months. We enjoy free camping when available & suitable and we also stay in caravan parks or showgrounds. We are currently at the Hobart showgrounds for 7 nights paying a premium price for a few facilities. It is good to have a choice and definitely one of the attractions of coming to Tassie. I feel that during our 3 months here seeing all the attractions, fuel & groceries and caravan park fees we estimate our spend would be around $15,000 plus we are travelling with 2 other couples. It would be a shame to take away something that works.

  22. We WERE planning on going over to Tazzie in the near future, but if this goes ahead we’ll go to NZ instead. Check the councils, I’ll bet there’s some owners or part owners there !

  23. If they start charging at formerly free camps there will be a lot less travellers coming to tasmania with the cost of the boat it will be prohibitive to stay in caravan parks for one I won’t be back .

  24. Absolutely. Have been to Tassie twice using B & B’s & absolutely love the place. Now I have a motorhome I was thinking of coming across in that but definitely wouldn’t bother without the free camps.

  25. We spent 3 weeks in Tassie and didn’t free camp we found Nat Parks, Sports grounds or CP’s very reasonable. We heard over 2 way 2 GN who missed the turn off it would have cost them 30km turning back yet in next Town it was $7.50 a night think carefully about cost of getting to some of these free camping sites. We also notice that Councils around Aussie are closing some free camping sites due to condition they are being left in and no it’s not only the Backpackers and the number of GN who over stay the 24 hr limit some by weeks. Yes some CP’s especially some in Darwin are total rip offs. Re Tassie I wish the Cops would station someone at SOT berth and ticket all those who don’t have legal towing mirrors they would make a fortune

  26. After spending three months in Tas last year we thought another trip would be good, not now! One issue a lot of Tasmania has to realize is THEY NEED US TO GO THERE, HOWEVER WE DON’T NEED TO GO! There is plenty of mainland states just as beuatiful and a lot less expensive.

  27. I’d say a general boycott is in order

  28. We are about to head down to Tas. for our 4 th visit to “The Apple Isle” where we usually stay for about 3 months and on this trip we are going to be accompanied 2 other caravans who have never been to Tas.. We have always taken our van and when all the “I’s” are dotted and the “T’s” crossed, you don’t get a lot of change out of $2000 but justify it a little because of the low cost, or free camping areas on the island.
    But we still have to eat, put fuel in the car and pay for tourist attraction and the odd Cappuccino or Scallop Pie which puts money back into the various communities.
    Assessments have been carried out in various mainland communities and the results have proved the value to the local business owners of free and low cost camps in these communities.
    We have rarely stayed in caravan parks in Tas. but have to say that some of the parks in Tas. that we have stayed in, have been no where near the standards that they advertise and in no way equal to a similarly rated mainland park. One one occasion a few years ago, we stayed at a caravan park where the fees were around the $30 per night, but then had to put several 20 cent pieces in the slot for a shower ????.
    So, will the closure or restriction of low cost or free camps on the “Apple Isle” deter us from future visits ???, Yep !!!. Beautiful State though —— Cheers Sundy

  29. If we don’t use the paid site they will disappear. How then can we get batteries re charged and good water. Apart from Coles and Woolworths who else really benefits from free campers.We come each year and appreciate how nice Tassie is.

    • Nobody will miss overpriced facilities.
      If expensive paid sites disappear another clever business will
      Offer low cost facilities including water and power

  30. Without free or cheap camps we just cant afford to go. Tasie is well known for its free camps and will DEFINITELY suffer if caravan park type fees are introduced. Local shops will suffer because of greedy parks pushing this change. Governments need to look at the big picture not listen to a vocal minority.

    • I agree we come here regularly and over the past few years Tasmania has had its hand out for more and more at the fuel pumps take away grog food I can go on for ever ,but they cannot continue extorting tourist as this is flowing to the local community as well,the unemployment rate is high ,please explain why do they want to raise prices I am now not planning to return to Tassie due to unforeseen expenses

  31. If this comes in, the 6 month trip we are planning will be scrapped. Of course the shops will be disadvantaged, because you can’t take food with you but can take any amount out. A great shame to miss out have been twice before and we were really looking forward to it.

  32. How is it the government has rushed to the aid of the CP owner yet the helped Uber put so many small taxi operators to the wall. Whose pockets are being filled this time?? Tassie is a great place but would boycott the place should freedom camping become too scarce.

  33. If this is gonna happen councils with free sights need to upgrade a few areas to warrant the fees. Staying in free spots one doesn’t expect too much but having to pay a fee people’s expectations will increase as far a facilities are concerned

    • Well said Colleen you took the words write out of my mouth

  34. I run a bookshop and would love all council library’s to charge commercial rates for using all books, it would force all those freeloading book borrowers to come and buy from me.

  35. Yes definately…..everyone loses out if this is to take place. Sadly

  36. Definately will reconsider our planned trip to tassie later this year. When you think about it people pay high charges to get there and they usually stay for lengthy periods. During which time they spend money on food fuel vehicle maintenance tourist activities laundry and lots of other everyday things. Most people use a mix of free and paid campsites. If you had to use only caravan parks who charge rediculous prices for facilities that most people don’t want or need it will not be financially viable to a lot of travellers. So all the other businesses that benefit from the visitors will suffer because of this ruling. If the caravan parks had reasonable rates for self sufficient travellers more people would patronise them.

  37. Hi currently traveling this wonderful island from Nov to easter and discount camping if I can use that fraise, One thing councils need to know is us self contained vaners (have toilet and shower} only need a fresh water supply and a black waste dump near by and nothing else, what this does is supply people that actually have cash in their pockets and are more than happy to spend money in the area as a kind of you look after us and we will look after you type of deal. If you go and supply toilets and showers onsite you upscale your initial cost and maintenance costs through the roof for people sleeping in cars are not going to spend any money, also at these sites put a courtesy box or a set fee which none of us will fail to pay

  38. Here is a thought how about the caravan parks coming to the party and offering $15 per night for self contained vaners and compete instead of pushing … up hill and trying to shut everything down I think you call that free enterprise which is the whole idea of supplying such a service in the first place

  39. If a boycott means that caravan parks go out of business, well so be it. They are the ones who have bought this to a head In Tassie, so they should be held to account. It’s our money and we will bloody well spend it where we choose and I no longer choose Tasmania. If that is what it takes for a change of attitude then so be it.

  40. Two things are quite clear here and that is nobody has read or even understands the document involved.
    Secondly this will keep the whinging cheapskates of the island!

    • Cheapskates….i dont think so mate….i take it you have never travelled on a budget…cheapskates we are not….and whingers the cp owners are…..its easy for cp owners to complain and have free campgrounds either made as paying campgrounds or closed thinkig it will improve their income…it saves them the hard work of doing what they should be doing…being a proper business owner and coming up with innovative ways to lure the customers in…they want council run free campgrounds to be competetive and start charging….cp owners need to take some of thier own advice and become a competetive business owner…advertising…tiered systems for people to only pay for what they use within their park and introducing a single rate per site instead of chargeing for 2 when there is only one person..etc…i will leave you with a little Food for thought….there was once a town in NSW whose cp owners complained and wished the local budget showground to be charging equal amount to themselves to be competetive…that town was very heavily boycotted and has never recovered…a town 30km up the road from the above mentioned town, where nomads are allowed to stay at a showground for a very cheap rate is seeing upwards of $5000 per week spent within the town centre. This is what most of us are getting at…not only are the budget and free campgrounds bringing people in, but they are also allowing campers travelling on a budget to be able to stop longer and spend money and support more than just one business in town.

  41. The cost to get to Tassie with a van is HUGE. Without low cost or free camping I will not go back. In places that I spent $$$$ to stay I spent nothing in the town. In place that were free I spent a minimum of $55. That was normally breakfast and dinner out. So a minimum spend of $5000 on the trip in tassie plus the ship. If I had to pay $30 a night as a solo traveller to stay in town it would not be a viable holiday. The mainland would be cheaper.

  42. We spent three months in Tasmania with a mixture of free camps and caravan parks. If we only have to stay in caravan parks we couldn’t afford to go again. As grey nomads we don’t need jumping castles and fancy playgrounds and. Retain
    Y not be squeezed into tiny spaces to allow for lots of cabins in th prime positions. I think they are cutting off their noses despite their face.

  43. Caravan parks do not provide the vista , scenery and the serenity that we enjoy so much when we opt to camp alongside Rivers Creeks, dams, weirs and lakes. I am glad that we visited Tassie some 8 years ago. Would like to revisit, but probably will not due the the many comments mentioned above.
    Like minded people like us, do visit “”SARDINE”” .Parks if and when we have to. Just imagine the country that we would be living in if it was a common practice for businesses to run to the Government because they think that their revenue is being affected by various market forces.
    More the reason I guess why we will continue to to try and enjoy and spend our $$$$ in the areas that role out the welcome mat for us.
    So the Spirit of Tassie misses out as does all the other small business due to the selfish view of C. Park owners.
    I wonder how many caravan owners visit Tassie every year.
    We spent just on $8000 in Tassie ( Incl Boat trip) that equates to say \1000 vans x say $6000 = M$6 bucks. That would only be the tip of the market we suopport.

  44. We have recently retired and are planning to have frequent trips to Tasmania each of about 4 weeks duration. We spend thousands of dollars over that time which includes food, tourist attractions and fuel. Our budget is stretched by these expenses and would mean that if we had to pay CP prices for overnight stays (30 nights by $40 = $1200) on top of getting the vehicle to Tasmania would put this trip out of the question.

  45. This is what Greg Said relating to the Eyre peninsular and I think it very pertinent to Tasmania.
    You definitely want to upgrade and make more free camps to attract the grey Nomads. You need to show they are wanted and you are RV Friendly. Why do you think we go to Qld & NSW because they have thousands of free camps and they want us. With that then comes the money they spend on, food, fuel, shopping, sightseeing and servicing of vehicles and equipment. If you cannot attract them to your out of the way magnificent spot you get nothing. You miss out on the biggest industry in Australia the Grey Nomads.

  46. Anyone who bases their travel itinerary on free camping is missing out on a lot of great destinations. Too many retirees looking for a free ride, it will all end in tears eventually. We took just our car over to TAS & did 3 weeks in CP cabins, that was enough.

  47. Well I live here & love the low cost /freedom camping we currently enjoy.Seems to me TTLine are wasting their money buying 2 new bigger ships as the Grey Nomads won’t be using them.I agree with other posts what about all the cabins c/van parks have& are putting in doing motels hotels out of business, don’t see anything about that, what a joke . Could already be too late the grape vine is running hot already.

  48. We spent 4 months on the Apple Isl, 50/50 free camp v CP. take away free camp you are out of our budget

  49. We spent 4 weeks on the Apple Isl, 50/50 free camp v CP. take away free camp you are out of our budget

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