Given the current situation with COVID-19, now has never been a better time to pack up your things and explore our big backyard that is Australia.
Although now it feels as if low-cost or “free camping” may becoming a thing of the past, with more and more councils rejecting proposals put forth for free camping and low-cost campgrounds. Being forced to close up or shut down and no longer being available for use for those looking to stay away immersed in nature with an authentic brief camping experience or stopover. Many low-cost campgrounds around Australia face the same problem- not knowing what their future holds.
Recently Albany, has been dismissed from a free campground proposal in the CBD. Albany, one of WA’s most popular tourist destination, has recently voted against plans to offer a free camping area in the CBD and become an “RV friendly” town, claiming it is “bad for business”.
The ACCWA (the Association of Caravan Clubs of WA) recently had their proposal rejected by the Albany council at their monthly meeting over concerns free sites within the CBD would hurt caravan parks financially.
Within ACCWA’s application, they stated that RV status would mean providing appropriate parking, amenities and services for caravanners (including parking within the town centre and short-term parking for 24, 48 and 72 hours within).
A grey nomad caravanner Dave Yendell, who has been caravanning for the past 14 years, argued the debate was skewed due to lobbying by local caravan parks. “This report relies almost solely on submissions made by vested interests who are against RV overnight camping,” he said.
One of the low-cost campgrounds unsure of their future is Rapid Bay Campground, about 90kms south of Adelaide, just hanging in there by a mere thread.
The management agreement over the campground ending in September has only further fuelled speculations that the beachside site might be no more once the agreement ends.
According to the ABC, after receiving a “legal letter” pushing for the site to be closed. The District Council of Yankalilla has had to look into the pros and cons of closing the Rapid Bay campground, which is Crown land under the custodianship of the council and is zoned for camping and recreation.
Lauren Barrington, the leading campaigner, fighting to keep the grounds open, said to the ABC, “I think it would encourage illegal camping,” she says, “The impact to local businesses would be great — and to the environment.”
Despite all these rejections and uncertainty, there is a call for celebration. With a flicker of light at the end of the tunnel for Australia’s free campgrounds and RV stops. With Bunbury digging their heels in and keeping their RV stop.
Only two hours south of Perth, the WA city of Bunbury gets to keep its free “Ocean Drive 48hr rest area” RV rest stop, despite all the strong opposition from the holiday industry.
The City of Bunbury council has just voted to make permanent a two-year trial to allow caravans to stay for free near Back Beach, close to the centre of town, for up to 48 hours.
Bunbury Mayor Gary Brennan said there was no evidence supporting the theory that free rest areas were luring paying customers away from private caravan parks. Apparently, it has already attracted 2,500 travellers and generated $360,000 for the local community.
We need to encourage more Australians to swap the aeroplane ticket and take to the roads and explore what is on our very own beautiful doorstep. But without the support of the travelling community rallying behind these campgrounds. The trend of low-cost or rest area may quickly become a thing of the past.
We know it is becoming more and more difficult (and expensive) for nomads looking for low-cost campgrounds. Whether it is a short stay, or those looking to park up their RV’s for a night or two or even emptying at a dump point, we know there are still those little gem’s still available around Australia.