Free camping debate rages along coast

A push by business and RV owners for more free camping sites at popular coastal holiday destinations continues to gain momentum.

While Australian inland centres have been quick to open up parks and showgrounds in an effort to be declared “RV Friendly”, coastal communities have taken a more measured approach as they seek to protect the business of established caravan and tourist parks.

Evidence the tide is turning in the move by major regional NSW councils at Coffs Harbour and Port Macquarie to make RV places available outside commercial caravan parks.

Coffs Harbour Council is debating introducing a permit system that would allow RVs to buy permits to camp at a designated area known as the North Wall for a limited stay of 48 hours.  An existing council-owned caravan park is nearby.

There has been a concerted campaign by local businesses and RV owners in support of the move.  They claim Coffs Harbour is  missing out on tourism dollars from self-contained travellers who refused to pay to stay in caravan parks, although currently RV owners appear to park wherever they like along the foreshore.

Port Macquarie Hastings Council has taken a different approach,  giving so-called “primitive campsite” licenses to showgrounds at Wauchope and Camden Haven, both located well away from the popular Port Macquarie foreshore and in towns without caravan parks.

Bob Kennett, President of the Wauchope Show Society, said the allocation of just 16 sites would make a big difference to the showgrounds, helping bring in much needed revenue to maintain facilities and boost the Wauchope economy.

“The Wauchope Show Society has had a good relationship with the caravan industry over the years.  Every August we host the Mid North Coast Caravan and Camping Show and at other times of the year, the showground is the venue for organisations, such as the Auswide Motor Home Club and others to meet.”

Meanwhile in Far North Queensland, Cairns Council has announced on the spot fines of $220 for campers and RV owners found parking in non-designated camping areas.

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