Van park owner begs grey nomads to end ‘boycott’

Published: July 6, 2015

A Queensland caravan park owner who made a desperate plea for grey nomads to end a ‘mining town boycott’ and camp with him has become a social media sensation.

Last week, the owner of the Columboola Country – halfway between Chinchilla and Miles – turned to Facebook to express his frustration at the convoys of caravans and motorhomes that bypassed his bush style retreat.

“Time to beg and plea,” he wrote. “I’ve tried to stay positive throughout the year but, unfortunately, we are desperate for some customers.”

He said that mining and gas had destroyed this area and the tourism had just about gone.

“This is our busy season, usually we have several caravans here throughout this time of the year, but we are so quiet, we are just about broke!” he wrote. “We need you to come camping…. PLEASE!!!!”

According to the Chinchilla News, the post went crazy, being shared more than 3000 times and seen by upwards of 200,000 people.

In the past year, Columboola Country – which is set on 265 acres and has a creek running through the middle of it – has seen just 20 caravans arrive, a stark contrast to 2003.

“When I first bought the place, we averaged three vans every night,” Mr Jackson told the Chinchilla News. “But you sit on the highway and watch the vans go past. It’s not a lack of travellers that’s the problem … it’s the lack of stopping them.”

David Hinds, co-owner of Possum Park north of Miles, said his business had maintained a loyal customer base throughout the CSG boom, but agreed there had been a ‘backlash against mining towns from travellers’.

“Word seemed to get around that CSG workers had taken over the accommodation,” he said. “They might start to come back now though.”

* Do you bypass mining towns that were once ‘too busy’ for grey nomads? Will you stay at Columboola Country if you are in the area? Comment below.




Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Christine Hamilton
7 years ago


6 years ago

Most mining towns was not interested in Grey nomads when the mining boom was going towns ln
central Queensland in towns and council like Salmon Bay area in Western Australia so why would we support you now when you couldn’t care about Grey Nomads and only about the Dollars from mining company’s.

7 years ago

10 out of 10 to the park owner for rethinking his business plan.
We could pay a visit, pending on the time of the day we pass that way.

7 years ago

The Caravan Park in Taroom was taken over by CSG and they built cabins for Gym,accommodation and security. When they left they left an unholy mess, remnants of drainage pipes, aerial cables and even some of the accommodation cabins all locked and unusable. They even put the price up , they didn’t improve the amenities as they bought their own in, space for ‘Vanners was limited . Is it any wonder people were starting to give it a miss.

7 years ago

Are they still charging the outrageous prices they demanded when their parks were full of CSG workers and they didn’t need GN’s?

7 years ago

Its very hard to be loyal to someone/something when they are not loyal to you. If we were made to feel uncomfortable or unwanted in the parks quest for the big dollar when they were having a boom time and now that boom time is ending then it is no wonder that we do not simply forget

7 years ago

I have bypassed towns because caravan parks taken over by CSG for camps. Despite the caravan parks making good money it has hurt the towns as the camps are fully catered so CSG workers not spending in town like caravanners would have.

Rod Booth
7 years ago

Caravan Park owners Australia wide should read these comments and start doing something now , because they could be next . Treat us poorly and you will be sorry , cos we don’t forget.

Pat and Trevor Hole
7 years ago

We have stayed at Possum Park, it was fabulous, we stayed there 2014 and just loved it. So much to see. Don’t drive past you will be sorry.

7 years ago

Good for the owner to swallow his pride and encourage caravanners to return:-).. We are always for contributing to small towns and businesses and this one will be added to the list:-)

Andrea Day
7 years ago

I don’t know about CSG taking over Columboola, but we stayed there a few years ago and loved it – beautiful bush camp. Would be quite happy to go back.

Rob Jones
7 years ago

Keep your prices down to a reasonable rate because 100% of 30 bucks is better than 0% of 40-50 bucks

John Christopher
7 years ago

I’m starting to realise that we are boycotting the wrong people. Having spent the last three months up in the northwest of WA, it has become clear that the profiteers saw the writing on the wall and have long since sold these parks to others who carry no guilt or responsibility for the sins of the past. Their only ‘crime’ might be a little naivety in buying the place without doing a bit of research first. Get back up there! The kids who bought these parks need our support. Yes, they are still expensive, but everything is in WA, and they are now no worse than down south.

Rick Avey
7 years ago

Oh! BooHoo!

anne (in the Tardis)
7 years ago

Van Park owners and Local Authorities especially, need to wake up to who provides sustainable business in these hard and uncertain times. Mining is a rape and pillage industry that has a limited lifespan and school holidays only account for about a quarter of the year. Who then is left to fill the gap? Could it be the Grey Nomads and other Traveller’s whose population is multiplying faster than the rabbits? Could be….
Nomads may generally be seen to be older, quieter n well behaved but remember these people are products of the 50’s and 60’s when massive social change was occurring and these were the people who were driving it and I’m sure they’ve still got it in them to do it again!
It would be foolish to forget that this group of citizens has successfully tried and tested tools of protest and change bubbling under their serene and wrinkled countenances. It would be even more foolish to forget they also have brains and varying amounts of cold hard cash!

I’m only an apprentice Nomad so I’m speaking from a viewpoint of a solo female (not retired) who doesn’t have the luxury of plenty of time or cash. My vehicle is kitted out to sleep in (for security) and I do shorter (in time) trips n don’t tow, so will put in the hours to get from where I am to where I want to get to. This precludes me from caravan parks, motels etc when I’m on the road. (the chances of getting someone to answer a bell at 9 or 10 at night are…. zero!)
With road safety such a big issue, I am ASTOUNDED at (Traveller UNFRIENDLY) Local Authorities who put up signs saying not only no camping but also fining people who sleep in their car!!! (Particularly in W.A.where its a long hop between places)
In PROTEST at such draconian and irresponsible laws, my personal policy is to see and use everything that is free in a Traveller UNFRIENDLY place and then drive on to a FRIENDLY TO TRAVELLER’S spot where I WILL spend my money.
I do like a free camp but am sensible enough to realize the cost of maintaining facilities, so am quite prepared to pay for the use of them- reasonable facilities for reasonable cost. I’ve found generally, that places that lay it on for Nomads/Traveller’s are the cheapest or free ones with good facilities and the places where you are bullied into the local caravan park are expensive, run down and not the sort of places a decent girl on her own feel safe in! (except the places with the jumping pillow n they’re noisy).
With the loss of free/cheap camping such an issue and Local Authorities setting a trend by closing showgrounds and other spots, I think its well and truly time the CUSTOMERS (Nomads/ Traveller’s) got a bit more organized, vocal and proactive in standing up and telling the PROVIDERS (Local Authorities, caravan parks, businesses etc) how WE (collective) want things to be to the advantage of both groups. Remember- WE VOTE- in many ways!
In the old days swagmen used to have a system of marking property gates so that following visitors knew what their reception would be from the property owner. I think we should take a leaf from the old timers book and do the same for whether an area is Traveller/ Nomad FRIENDLY or UNFRIENDLY but use modern tools such as cameras, smartphones and computers.
BOYCOTTS, I believe are the most effective salvo one can deliver in this campaign and these should be the first line of defense. This is Australia and we pride ourselves on FREEDOM and that includes freedom of CHOICE. The second line of defense is to let the Local Authority (and everybody else) know exactly why you have boycotted their area. Social media/ Nomad sites are good for this and the message gets out quickly.
The third line of defense is to spend your money in the places that do provide cheap/ free camps etc and to make sure you tell them why you’re there and that you appreciate the facilities they provide. Do this both verbally in places you visit/ shop and by email/letter to the Local Authority responsible and the businesses you used so they can see a tangible benefit of what they provide and see the free/cheap camp as a valuable asset to their community and hopefully think longer and harder at what the real cost would be before making a decision to close it off.
A picture speaks a thousand words so use your camera to record not only the good sights but also the unsightly. If you are in a place where the facilities are less than what you paid to use them, then take a picture. You can post it to Nomad websites/ social media to let others know what they should avoid and also pop them and a letter of complaint off to the Health Department and Regulatory body’s for that state. Maybe a copy to the State’s Fair Trading/ Consumer Affairs department as well- if there are enough of them it might put overcharging for substandard facilities on the agenda somewhere???
Local Authorities are run on business lines these days and I cannot imagine a business that would ignore what potential clients were saying to them if it wished to survive and prosper. The Grey Nomad industry is one that is growing and expanding and manufacturers of the products to facilitate this lifestyle are constantly and successfully adapting to meet clients needs, wishlists and budgets. It is a pity that some Local Authorities are not so visionary and progressive.
Finally to the above caravan park owner-if you were one of those milking the mining cash cow at the expense of your bread and butter business then you are getting your just desserts now. The Nomads may not have made you fat as butter, but they would have kept the wolf from the door and food in the pantry. You’re in Queensland so you will be familiar with the recently evicted premier who thought more about saving money and less about the people he was meant to serve. Look how quickly he was shown the door by the people he had treated badly- there’s a lesson for you and all caravan park owners there!
And lastly, for those that pay big bucks to stay in the parks with the jumping pillows and game consuls- USE THEM! (even if you have to push the kids off) When someone comes along to say they’re for children only, you can say you’re in your second childhood and YOU paid big bucks for that pillow- the kids didn’t!


Subscribe To Our Newsletter

    Your Cart
    Your cart is emptyReturn to Shop