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Caravan park owners frustrated at impact of free rest areas

Monte Olsen of Kin Kora Village Caravan and Residential Home Park is frustrated by free rest areas affecting his business.
Monte Olsen of Kin Kora Village Caravan and Residential Home Park is frustrated by free rest areas affecting his business. Luka Kauzlaric

SEVERAL caravan park owners are outraged with the lack of support they are getting from all levels of government and want rest areas to stop being a byword for free camping.

Last week member for Flynn Ken O'Dowd suggested there was nowhere to go for caravanners.

"Up to this point in time we can't offer them (grey nomads) any facilities. The closest thing we can say to them is to go out to the Calliope River or the Gladstone Showgrounds, because those are the only two places we've got," Mr O'Dowd said.

Several caravan park owners have registered their outrage at the comments, insisting there is room at their parks.

"Maybe elected representatives for the people of Gladstone could support their local business and open up their eyes to what's right in front of them," Kin Kora Village manager Monte Olsen said.

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"Gladstone is a great place to live and welcomes visitors. It's a pity our elected members aren't sending visitors in the right direction."

He, along with several other operators, said their businesses were being hurt by people staying for long periods in council-sanctioned 'rest stops' instead of spending up in caravan parks.

I wouldn't mind if these areas were policed and a fee was actually charged after a while.

"The term 'rest area' has changed over the last 10 years to 'free camping' and is spreading like a disease throughout this great country of ours," Mr Olsen said.

They say the council has been lax in policing a 48-hour rest limit at the sites.

"I wouldn't mind if these areas were policed and a fee was actually charged after a while," Tannum Beach Caravan Village manager Colin Anderson said.

"But to have to compete against something that's free and something I'm partially paying for through rates…it's pretty disappointing.

"There's spare capacity all over the place at the moment and that's only going to come down as the LNG projects draw down, but we still have this image that the parks are full of workers."

In response, the council insisted that they did enforce a time limit at the rest areas.

"Council local laws officers regularly patrol this area and this activity is supported by private security company during peak camping seasons," Mayor Gail Sellers said in a statement.

Mr O'Dowd has not yet responded to a request for comment.

Campers bludge on 48-hour ruling

SPEAKING to several locals and holiday-makers at the Calliope rest area on Tuesday, the evidence, at least anecdotally, seems to suggest that people are staying more than 48 hours per stay.

Some were only staying for a couple of days at the rest area, but plenty were staying for longer.

"We're not really putting any sort of limit on it," one person said. "We might stay here for about a week."

A sign warning visitors of the 48-hour limit.
A sign warning visitors of the 48-hour limit. James McGrath

Several people The Observer spoke to seemed unaware that there was a 48-hour time limit on people staying at the site.

"I haven't seen anybody around to enforce that, to be honest," another caravanner said.

When informed of the 48-hour limit, several people questioned the rule entirely.

It's just an Australian tradition to be able to go down to a river and camp for a while.

"That's a bit silly, there's not that many people here at the moment so we're not hurting anyone by staying," one woman said.

"It's just an Australian tradition to be able to go down to a river and camp for a while."

She added that during the peak season the site was full, and while it wasn't strictly enforced, etiquette dictated that people stayed for no more than a few days.

Several also noted that caravan parks in town were "too expensive", and that they could not compete with the free facilities being offered.

Rest areas in the region

  • Calliope River
  • Benaraby River
  • Granite Creek

Topics:  business caravan gladstone region ken o dowd tourism



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