Free Camping in Rocky Comes to an End

Article by · November 16, 2018 ·

Caravanning Queensland has won a legal battle in the Planning and Environment Court against Rockhampton Regional Council to have the free camping area in Kershaw Gardens closed down. In its statment, Caravan Queensland has said –

In late 2017 Caravan Parks Association of Queensland (Caravanning Queensland) commenced proceedings against Rockhampton Regional Council on the basis that the use of an area known as Kershaw Gardens at Moores Creek Road, Park Avenue, Rockhampton, for free camping was unlawful and constituted a development offence under the Planning Act 2016 (Qld) due to the absence of an effective development permit for the use.

The Court determined the use of this land for RV accommodation was not ancillary to the use of the land as a park. The Court also found the use was not lawful under either Rockhampton Regional Council’s 2005 Planning Scheme (where RV accommodation was classified as an ‘undefined’ use) or the 2015 Planning Scheme (where the use was defined as a ‘Tourist Park’).

In accordance with these findings, the Court held an ongoing development offence was being committed and made enforcement orders to bring the identified development offence to an end. The Rockhampton Regional Council now has until 4pm on February 15, 2019, to stop illegal camping and RV accommodation in Kershaw Gardens. 

Michelle Weston, Caravanning Queensland General Manager of Parks, said the Association is pleased with the Court’s decision, which has provided certainty to our members in the Rockhampton region.

“The Association was always of the view that the accommodation use of Kershaw Gardens went beyond the ordinary use of a park,” Ms Weston said.

“We originally raised our concerns about the free camping at Kershaw Gardens with Council in July 2014 regarding the unlawful use and the impacts on the competitiveness of a number of local caravan park operators.

“The fact that the accommodation offered was provided free of charge was detrimentally impacting the business of our members, in light of the continuation of this unlawful development and in the interest of our members, including local caravan park operators, we were left with little alternative but to take legal action.”

The Court have ordered Council to remove signage from the Land identifying that it may be used for the purposes of RV accommodation, write to the CMCA to advise that use of this land for RV accommodation has ceased and place public notices to that effect.

The Australian Caravan Club has hit right back, condemming the change, saying that free camping provides an important and measurable economic benefit to regional communities, and that Queensland risks being percieved as caravan and RV-unfriendly, in light of the news. Chairman, Chris Humphries said, “Interstate tourists avoiding the southern winter, traditionally travel throughout regional and rural Queensland which could be the regions most affected directly by restrictive camping issues. Many southern grey nomads may wipe Queensland off their winter destinations and will stop at the border or head to SA and up the Centre.  Qld communities will lose the economic benefits their tourism brings as they head north each winter. The ACC absolutely respects the decision of the Court but our call is to ensure that RV travellers have a freedom of choice in options available to stay in Queensland destinations.”

The club estimates that on any given night 120,000 caravan or motorhomes are out travelling each day, contributing, on average, $100 per day into the communities they visit. “The Australian Caravan Club calls on the Queensland Government to convene a round table of stakeholders including the relevant RV consumer organisations to work collaboratively to ensure appropriate strategies are developed for regional and rural areas continue to attract RV travellers who may now bypass these areas as a result of the Kershaw Gardens decision” said Mr Humphrey.

What do you think about this decision? Will it make you consider avoiding Rockhampton if you travel north?

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About Brendan Batty

ROAM's fearless editor, Brendan's most often found searching for the next best campsite, or fixing his caravan so it will make it to just one more.

25 Comments

  • comment-avatar

    Wayne

    Later Rocky you lose in long run

  • comment-avatar

    Gary Hines

    Free camping is a choice, many RVers do not require much of what they are forced to pay for at Caravan Parks. Rocky shop keepers may miss out, let’s see if the parks miracously become full now.🤔

  • comment-avatar

    R&L Brown

    We won’t be going to Rocky we are pensioners we love our free camps and most caravan parks are to expensive to stay in all the around Australia .

  • comment-avatar

    Paul Turvey

    Maybe the authorities can provide evidence as to how much the occupancy of the local caravan parks has increased as a result of this decision.
    I doubt if it will be significant because as grey nomads, we don’t choose to pay for inflated jumping mats, swimming pools and other play facilities which we don’t require.
    It would be interesting to see evidence of the downturn in takings by local businesses as a result of grey nomads bypassing Rockhampton.

  • comment-avatar

    Joe

    Good bye Rockhampton

  • comment-avatar

    Donna

    Stayed At Rockhampton August 2018 but chose Fardoolys camp rather than a caravan park. When we travel we mix up the van parks and free camping. We generally avoid the parks in big towns as they predominantly cater for kids (especially coastal towns). I prefer to support the smaller towns anyway. This decision won’t make me avoid Rocky but I won’t stay in a caravan park there now.

  • comment-avatar

    Julio

    No more stops at Rocky for us now. Such a shame but we’ll spend our money elswhere

  • comment-avatar

    Billy Arnold.

    sorry Rocky,as a gray nomad I absolutely love your part of the world but without the option of free camping , or not funds permitting maybe I will bypass, time will tell.

  • comment-avatar

    Wayne Salisbury

    I was in a caravan park in Rocky 2 years go and it, like all the rest, were full. As for the parks, most just suck at it. Overpriced, poor facilities or the opposite the big 4 at Helensvale and pay through the nose. We “will” bypass Rockhampton in future, maybe even QLD. I havent see anything yet that would suggest QLD is caravan friendly let alone a tourist!!

    • comment-avatar

      Hey Wayne, Come out to Charleville Bush Caravan Park ortou can stay at Charleville Bush Camp it’s only $5 per night.
      There are plenty of caravan parks around that are well managed you only need to look at WikiCamps to find them.

  • comment-avatar

    Pete

    Last year we travelled through Qld to the top end but on next years trip we will travel through SA and up the centre. Bye bye Qld

  • comment-avatar

    Jason Cox

    I wouldn’t say that I will avoid Rocky in the future but I will certainly avoid the caravan parks there.
    I feel for the council who were trying to do the right thing by their region and the local businesses – they obviously saw the merit in the free camping. I hope the other businesses in the area don’t suffer because if this ludicrous decision, but I fear they will.

  • comment-avatar

    Ray

    I will be surprised if the caravan park occupancy rate increases greatly because they are appealing to a different market – those with children and needing jumping pillows, etc. However the park owners do not seem to understand that.
    I don’t want to penalise the other businesses in Rockhampton for the actions of this caravan park owner, but, if that park is the only accomodationoption, then I will bypass the town.

  • comment-avatar

    Jonathan

    I am from Rockhampton. All the people I’ve spoken to hate this stupid nonsensical decision. Our current council is creative though. I’m sure they will come up with alternatives. Stay tuned and please don’t give up on us.

  • comment-avatar

    Joe mihalec

    We will definitely not be passing through now, this is utter rot , the losses to Rockhampton will far out way the gains financially.

  • comment-avatar

    Lynne J.

    Well done Rocky!!!!

  • comment-avatar

    Well Caravanning Queensland I think you have shot your selves in the foot. I, like probably many other caravaners, will not now stay in Rockhampton if I go through it at all. Why don’t you look at the bigger picture and think of the businesses that also benefit from caravaners staying at free camps in the area. I hope Rockhampton Council look at other options for free area’s for self contained caravans that don’t require the services of a caravan park.

  • comment-avatar

    Laurie

    I have the same view as a lot of other readers, to remove the free camping is a backward step for Rockhampton. Obviously Caravanning Queensland is more concerned about itself than the numerous businesses that benefit from the money spent by free campers on goods and services. Fortunately there are other towns who have realized how beneficial the grey nomads are to their economy and provided great facilities for free campers. The grey nomads will soon find other alternatives to Rockhampton.

  • comment-avatar

    Grant Taylor

    Well it will make me think before stopping there. Sounds like it will be before or after. Unfortunately the local tourism shops etc will miss out. When and if I stop in again as we are a fully contained RV it will be in a back street.

  • comment-avatar

    Ron Warren

    Wow, this has really brought home to me the attitude of the freeloaders out there!!! What a pack of whingers! The Regional Council was at fault for allowing it to happen and was breaking the law, not Caravanning Queensland. I presume everyone read the report and understood it fully? I think not judging by the comments! I am disgusted at the attitude of a bunch of selfish people!

  • comment-avatar

    Laurie

    So in your eyes Ron people are “freeloaders” when free camping. You sound like an absolute tosser!

  • comment-avatar

    Ray

    Next time we are up that way, we will not stop at Rocky. Certainly not at their caravan parks. We do 50/50 freedom camping and caravan parks and want to have a Choice.

  • comment-avatar

    Keni

    Calling people freeloaders shows an abysmal ignorance of the facts.
    Some of us can afford to buy our groceries, toiletries, fuel, small car repairs, a cheap museum or tourist attraction ticket, but not additional caravan park fees.
    It isn’t a choice. If we want to travel, we can only stay to spend our limited money in towns with free camping.

  • comment-avatar

    Andy

    There goes another free camp!!
    I have been caravaning and camping for 16 years. The reasons that free camps are closing are
    * a minority doing the wrong thing are destroying it for the majority e.g. inappropriate disposal of waste human and garbage.
    * there are a significant number of free campers not spending the $100 per night claimed by the association. Some aren’t spending any where near that.
    * costs to run a small business are continually rising and councils are trying to support them.
    There are two sides to every argument! So come on free campers let’s do the right thing and encourage others to do the same.

  • comment-avatar

    Allan and Sue Reilly

    Surely it is up to the individual ‘vanner how they choose to camp. Why do parks think they are going to force us to stay with them. We choose to freedom camp most of the time and we still will. There are plenty of places other than Rockhampton to spend our money. We make it a point to stock up on supplies and fuel in the towns where we camp. That puts a lot of money into local towns. Why is it so important to look after park owners and not all the many businesses in the area.


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