‘We’ve got four van parks so free camping is out’

Published: August 20, 2015

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.

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6 years ago

small/narrow minded poeple

4 years ago
Reply to  Rudy

You got that right!

6 years ago

Probably cost all the town’s businesses a hellova lot more as Grey Nomads by-pass the town ….. Food stores, Petrol outlets, news agencies, bakeries, etc. … Mmmmm seems to be a “decision” by a council heavily influenced by C’van Park owners …. Watch this space, eh.

Eva Davis
6 years ago
Reply to  Nomad1946

Perhaps the other retailers might like to hand out free coffee, free meat, free bread, free haircuts and share the love and not make only one kind of small business suffer such blatant unfair trading. Nothing if free and there is no evidence that illegal campers spend more at all. Caravan Parks pay for staff to be on sight 24 hours/they are all bound by WHS/they provide a safe and legal environement for the travelling public at great costs and then local councils provide the safe service to travellers – often on Crown Lands which is illegal. Just wrong inside towns. Outside a town – knock yourselves out but be careful. The argument is only about a fair playing field. Everyone’s right, I would think.

Eric Walters
6 years ago

Wake up there is more business than caravan parks

6 years ago
Reply to  Eric Walters

I totally agree with your comment

Highway Hobo's
6 years ago

No free camping at Gilgandra is the very reason we have never stopped there.

4 years ago
Reply to  Highway Hobo's

Yes the whole town will suffer as tourists will just by past the town.
It happened in Bowen old. But council reversed it decision. Word of mouth says it all in the travelling world.

6 years ago

The mayor does not realise that if there is no low cost or free camp in his town, those of us that dislike or can’t afford caravan parks will miss the town alltogether. No body benefits.

6 years ago

The grey nomads bring a lot of money to the area, The greedy caravan park owners are chasing money out of town. Have the council seen the report from Western Qld, they love the grey nomads free camping as their money is helping to keep the towns afloat in the drought.

Dennis Mitchell
6 years ago

We travel on less than the pension. Single nights we try to free camp to save some money. When we stay multiple nights we try to use parks. Having said that add the cost of fuel and park fees together and there is not much change left out of $350 a week. I guess Gilgandra is off our list.

Patricia Reason
6 years ago

Nobody like to feel they are being blackmailed, and this is precisely what is being attempted here. Caravan parks are fine for those who like to be jammed in close to their neighbours, to be almost forced to socialise, and to have to listen to inconsiderate people and undisciplined children at all hours of the day – and then be overcharged for the privilege. They are fine for the occasional night, to catch up on washing and have a good shower – but we are usually charged far more than these facilities are worth. The rest of the time, as a Grey Nomad couple in a self contained vehicle, we see no sense in paying well over the value for facilities we don’t need. So – if the choice is between being “ripped off” and forced into a glorified sardine tin park, or bypassing Gilgandra, I apologise to Gilgandra’s business owners – fuel supplier, supermarket, butcher, greengrocer, pharmacist, newsagent, gift shop owner, Laundromat owner, dry cleaner, op shop volunteers, bakery and café owners, and the local hotelier – but we will bypass your greedy, unfriendly, inhospitable town!

Ian Ramsay
6 years ago

You really nailed it Patricia by mentioning all the other business ventures in the town, not just this town but every other town where this practice occurs.
This is where the rubber meets the tar, the no free camping policy is coming at the expense of every other business in town with it seems, the caravan parks.
It then raises the issue of if a council is prepared to make a stand in favour of caravan parks then why can’t the same be done for other business ventures.
Clearly this is an example of protectionism being made only available for one particular industry.
Is this an example of reverse discrimination against other business operators??
Why are caravan parks becoming a protected species?

Clarke Mc Dowell
6 years ago

Easy head for Mendooran great free camp there and give Gilgandra a miss.

6 years ago

Great freedom camp Mendooran plus a reasonable feed at the old pub.

6 years ago

His town, his loss, if they won’t to dictate where I can stay then I won’t be staying. Its not the only place out there.

Ed Haywood
6 years ago

My choice of stopovers
1 Low cost or free;
2 Reasonably priced parks in shires that promote low-cost parks;
3 Low-cost parks that are value for money.
Give me what I want and I will support your sbire. Fail to do so and I will support someone else.

6 years ago

It would appear that the mayor of Gilgandra is only concerned about 4 businesses in his town. Travellers only have a certain amount of money to spend and as a majority of grey nomads are self contained they do not want to pay they prices charged at a caravan park for services they do not need, not to mention the tiny spaces crammed together. If a free or small donation camp is available the rest of the town benefits. Service stations – supermarket – chemist – newsagent – cafe – attractions – post office – club/pub – …………
It is time other businesses in towns stood up to the caravan parks and pled the case for the potential gain of income for them.

6 years ago

It’s all about freedom of choice really – there will always be people who stay in caravan parks only and then there are those who stay sometimes and those who never stay in caravan parks – the 4 caravan parks would not be affected if they are reasonably priced as those that usually stay will BUT those that like to freedom camp will give the town a miss so it’s really all the other business that will suffer.

Linda Selleck
6 years ago

we travel through Gilgandra regularly …..if there was a free camp we would probably stay and do some shopping but there isnt so you lose out on our business…freedom campers will bypass towns that dont accommodate them so your argument for the caravan parks is not worth thinking about

John B. Rodgers
6 years ago

Yes, we do have the freedom of choice. And that is the what we support. The mayor is also protecting the council own caravan park business.

6 years ago

If the council caravan park went donation you would see how many grey nomads would stop and spend in your town if we don’t have the hefty park fee we spend more in the town and every one benifets in the town we all ways donate in box and a lot of donation camps are better then the caravan parks with there small and dusty sights

Dawn billingham
6 years ago

I don’t agree with the Gilgandra mayor, point 1 the caravan parks are out pricing themselves for a start, bring down the prices and you may get more people staying there point 2 even when free camping there is still money being spent in the town re: hotels for meals, supermarkets for stocking up and souvenir shopping, the less that is spent on accomodation, the more will be spent in the town.

6 years ago

I will still pop into Gilgandra if needing to top up fuel for myself or vehicle. Other traders in town still benefit, but not the Caravan Parks.
But must admit that I’d hate to own or try to fund a Caravan Park in this location as the cross road locality sees so many travelers.

6 years ago

Agreed with all comments above.

6 years ago

The mayor has missed the point and his town will lose out. Grey nomads have voted with their feet and will continue until he wises up!

6 years ago

We have passed through Gilgandra several times,last time 2009 it has one of the best 2nd hand shops in Australia. As far as the rest of the shopping goes there’s nothing to boast about but 5 years later, it could be better. On one occasion we were surprised that the whole town was a free wifi hotspot, so they were trying to attract tourists then. We have stayed at Mendooran 3 times, Great except for the prickles.
In all honesty I didn’t know there were 4 CP’s in Gilgandra. I can’t understand why.

Robyn Davies
6 years ago

I am at a loss understanding why there are 4 caravan parks in a town with a population of 2700 people?? who approved the development plans for the other 3?? No wonder there are problems making a living from these parks. They are blaming the wrong people. It is not the grey nomads or other people travelling with camping/caravan facilities who are the cause of their woes. Shut down at least two parks, revamp the other two to accommodate self contained vans and they will turn a profit.

5 years ago
Reply to  Robyn Davies

It’s almost a halfway point from vic,qld, and south Australia they are full a lot and has a lot of motels there to. There is free camp just need to be a local to know or the show ground is cheap to camp at

6 years ago

Robyn Davies, I agree entirely, two would be plenty, one with all the bells & whistles one as a budget alternative and let the tourists decide. Of the other two, maybe at least one could be turned into a retirement village, we will need more of these as time goes by.

6 years ago

what i s the environmental cost of all these vans in the bush ok for those that do the right thing but a dollar donation of whatever is not going to clean up or keep the facilities up to date lets be realistic on a fare park fee and keeping a watch on the unfair let behind in our beautiful out doors of humane waist and rubish

6 years ago

The best answer to this narrow minded Mr Battern is let him keep his town, just by pass it, unfortunately for their other businesses there, Mr Battern only thinking of these few caravan parks, not the rest of small businesses that would now miss out on potential customers, and the question is why these narrow minded people that make these decisions still have a job, my opinion is we are all Australians and this is our country and as far as I’m concerned have the right to camp, providing we leave it as we find it, no skin off anyone’s nose.

Rod Booth
6 years ago

Well thankfully I have been to Gilgandra. That means I won’t have to go there again. Even more so now.

yvonne pittam
6 years ago

I either stay in free areas, being completely self contained including solar power, or now and again I come across a donation spot, ( happy to give around $5 to $10 for me, depending if I use their shower or not) or a showground if around the $10 mark. There I will stay up to a week if good spot for me and 2 little dogs.Why cant this Shire open up a showground type park, they apparently make a little profit?

6 years ago

I agree that Gilgandra will be the one to lose out. Look at WA – the free camping areas there are excellent! I’m sure that the businesses in Gilgandra will really feel the pinch, but that’s okay, we’ll spend our money in Eumungerie.

6 years ago

Think about this we spend about $100 on fule $50 if we eatout and maybe $50 on suplies , the loosers are the small business not the caravan parks

6 years ago

If it wasn’t a council owned park involved perhaps the mayor would not be worried about a free park as it would bring money into the shops.

6 years ago

It is not just the caravan parks that will lose my dollars, but the servo, bakery, supermarket, etc. I hope that these businesses make sure that the caravan park owners are aware of that.

Fay Berry
6 years ago

One thing is for sure, Gilgandra will not see me staying over night if there is no free camping. I am a sole “grey nomad” with a small camper trailer and I don’t need power. If is stay anywhere overnight, I will generally have a cooked breakfast at a cafe in the town and maybe buy one or two things, such as gifts etc. The town won’t get that much out of my being there, but not free camping and they will get nothing!

Greg Upton
6 years ago

We’ve made a note in our travel atlas: “Avoid Gilgandra”. If we have to pass through we’ll make sure we’ve fuelled up beforehand so we don’t have to stop there.

Greg Upton
6 years ago

One further comment. A lot of caravan parks are not independent and belong to a large company who run a growing chain of caravan parks around Australia. No names mentioned, we all know who I mean. And I bet one or two of these companies make political donations. And most councils are dominated by councillors who are members of our political parties. So is it any wonder that a lot of councils seem to be favouring their caravan parks over other local businesses as well as itinerant free campers?

6 years ago

it would appear from this statement extracted from the article above “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.” that the majority of the local business operators support the decision. So no need for further discussion, let them get on with it and we will get on somewhere else 🙂

5 years ago

I live in a caravan friendly town called Toodyay in Western Australia. The council provide parking and guide signage for travellers.
The council want to provide a dump station to expand the Caravan Friendly image.
The only person opposing this is the local Caravan park owner, who provides more Holiday Chalets than parking spaces. Talk about trying to build a monopoly.

4 years ago

A council that will not accept the basic business principal of competition. Businesses in this town, (apart from caravan parks), are sadly missing out on hundreds of thousands of dollars/year. Council members need to take a drive to a few other towns & see the prosperity that comes to the entire town with free or cheap camping.

4 years ago

A s many hotels, showgrounds, & other venues offer cheap camping with showers, toilets, & drinking water available…the reply from local caravan parks appears to be to up their prices in an attempt to maintain their same turnover.
I’ve been a camper most of my life, & full time for the past 8 years since retiring. C/parks I once stayed in for $12-18/night unpowered, now charge $30-37 for the same plot, however , I notice I’m the only camper there when a few years ago there would be 4-8. These c/parks
need to realise that competition forces prices down…not up. They have me as the only camper there for $30+/night, but they could have 3-5 @ $15/night. All we need is a shower & a toilet, it’s not rocket science.

2 years ago

re the free camping argument at Gilgandra. What nobody seems to realise that the van parks are quick to put cabins in their park, in direct competition with the hotels and motels who offer accomodation in their town. Wake up Mr Mayor there is a lot more than your narrow minded views.I to will go elsewhere!!!!


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