Port Hedland’s decision to offer free camping for fully self-contained vehicles has already been declared a massive success.
Last month, the free site – with three new dump points – was opened next to the local turf club and the numbers of grey nomads taking advantage has skyrocketed.
“The first night there was one van, the second night there were five and the third there were 30,” local councillor, Julie Hunt told the West Australian newspaper. “And that’s just word of mouth out on the road.”
Mrs Hunt said that – with Broome to the north and Karijini to the south – grey nomads had long been bypassing Port Hedland.
“They have to go through Port Hedland but they usually buy their fuel and food and go on,” she told the West Australian. “But this has absolutely taken off. Now they’re staying three or four days, doing tours and buying goods they may not have bought here before. The feedback I’m getting is really positive.”
Mrs Hunt hoped some businesses would see the increased trade as an opportunity to open new shopfronts, particularly in the town’s relatively quiet western end. And, she said, industrial tourism was proving really popular with grey nomads, with many enjoying looking at the hulking vessels in the harbour and the three-kilometre-long freight trains.
“Most of these tourists are from the east coast, so they’ve read all about Port Hedland and the Pilbara and how it is the economic powerhouse keeping the nation afloat,” she told the West Australian. “They stop and see these giant ships and trains and then go ‘Oh yeah, now I understand’.”