The town of Gilgandra in the central west region of New South Wales looks set to stay a non-free camping zone with the mayor there saying such a move would hit commercial caravan parks hard.
The fact that there are currently three private and one council-owned caravan parks in Gilgandra reflects its traveller-friendly location on the junction of the Newell, Oxley and Castlereagh Highways.
However, the mayor, Doug Batten, has said that if the council introduces free camping the commercial caravan parks could lose hundreds of thousands of dollars,
His comments were made following a meeting with local business owners, at which concerns were apparently raised around free camping. These concerns including a possible increase in litter and fires being left unattended.
Mr Batten admitted though that said some nearby communities had taken a different approach and had benefited hugely from the economic opportunities afforded by free camping.
“I know in Eumungerie at their camping ground there, there is a donation for staying there, that has provided a wonderful bonus for Eumungerie and there is no caravan park there and no real commercial problem” Mr Batten told the ABC. “But when you come to Gilgandra with four caravan parks being on a major intersection on the Newell Highway it is a real economic concern.”
While acknowledging that some travellers had expressed disappointment that there was no free camping in Gilgandra, the mayor said that, while it wanted to attract more visitors, the town should not do anything that might adversely affect the business of other operators.
* Do you understand the mayor’s logic? Or do you think he is missing an opportunity to bring in grey nomads and other visitors to the town? Comment below.