MILLIONS of dollars in tourism could be wiped off the map in Rockhampton after council lost a lengthy battle with local caravan parks to scrap a popular free camping spot.
According to The Australian Caravan Club (ACC), caravaners spend more than $12 million a day nationally and the Rockhmpton region’s share is at risk after a court ruled free overnight stays would be banned at Kershaw Gardens by February.
ACC chairman, Craig Humphrey said this decision could potentially mean missing out on a slice of the economic benefits 600,000 registers RV travellers bring if they by-pass the region.
“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,” he said.
“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 Caravan Parks Association of Queensland (CPAQ) won a legal battle with Rockhampton Regional Council to ban free overnight camping at the popular space on Thursday.
The free camping area at Kershaw Gardens was empty yesterday after Rockhampton caravan park owners took legal action through Caravan Association Queensland against Rockhampton Regional Council to cease the operation. Shayla Bulloch
Since late 2014, the council has let self-contained recreational vehicles camp up to 48 hours for free at Kershaw Gardens.
The free camping irritated some caravan park owners, who complained of losing business.
The Caravan Parks Association of Queensland went to court last December, asking the council and State Government to stop all operations at the Moores Creek Rd site.
After multiple Planning and Environment Court hearings, Judge Michael Williamson was persuaded a development offence was committed at the gardens.
He said the council could not resume using the land as a “tourist park” without an effective development permit allowing so.
The Environment and Planning Court yesterday decided that camping is illegal and ruled that overnight stays must cease on February 15 next year with all signs removed.
Judge Williamson’s decision could also be appealed.
Malcolm Fletcher is one of the many travelers to take advantage of free overnight parking in Rockhampton’s Kershaw Gardens during his drive home to Victoria. Photo Allan Reinikka / The Morning Bulletin Allan Reinikka ROK140814acamp1
According to an ACC survey, RV travellers spend up to $100 per day covering fuel, groceries and other necessities, reportedly injecting approximately $12 million daily into local communities.
Meeting with several state ministers in February, Mr Humphrey expressed concerns for reputation risks, fatigue management and possible damage to rural road routes.
Rockhampton Regional Council mayor Margaret Strelow said council supported all travellers in the region and was concerned for where CPAQ would hit next.
“This is a disappointing result for the many mums and dads who travel Australia, spending money in so many other ways in our community,” she said.
“We tried our best to support the many motorhome and camper van enthusiasts who pass through our community.
“It worries me that the Caravan Park Owners Association may make moves against Bouldercombe and Yamba and Westwood now.”
Mr Humphrey suggested more locations be considered as a Primitive Camping Ground and is pushing the state government to work in collaboration to ensure no travellers bypass the area.
Primitive Camping Grounds are lower key than conventional camping grounds and are not required to have sealed roads, hot water or laundries.
These are often in scenic locations such as in bushland, near rivers or on the coast which the New South Wales Government has such legislation operating effectively throughout their state.