Free camping grounds give travellers a cost-effective way to see our wonderful region, but not everyone is convinced they are a good idea.
Free camping grounds give travellers a cost-effective way to see our wonderful region, but not everyone is convinced they are a good idea. SylvieBouchard

TOWN DIVIDED: Should free camping be extended?

FREE camping grounds give travellers a cost-effective way to see our wonderful region, but not everyone is convinced they are a good idea.

At the moment, free campers can enjoy the designated grounds for a maximum 24-48 hours.

But there are some seasoned travellers who believe this is not long enough for campers to experience all the town has to offer.

Wondai resident Neville French thinks they should be extended to 72 hours.

"As a traveller, you are travelling during the day. By the time you arrive and set up you don't get the opportunity to get a feel for the overall area," Mr French said.

He believed the extra day would give tourists more time to enjoy the South Burnett and spend more money in the region.

"My experience is it's an unwritten law if campers go to a free camping ground they will spend some money in the town," Mr French said.

Nanango's Homestead Caravan Park owner Samantha Hughes has a free camping ground less than 500m from her business.

She said when the free camping ground was opened it had a significant impact on her business.

"We have had to redefine what we are doing in our caravan park," Ms Hughes said.

"We have had to take on permanent residents because we are just not getting the overnight traffic."

Do you think South Burnett free camping areas should be extended to 72 hours?

This poll ended on 15 October 2019.

Current Results

Yes, extend free camping to 72 hours

57%

No, keep free camping at 24 to 48 hours

42%

This is not a scientific poll. The results reflect only the opinions of those who chose to participate.

Ms Hughes said she wasn't convinced extending the free camping limit to 72 hours would bring extra money to the town.

"If they are buying something it is from the service station or the Foodworks," she said.

"They generally know where they are going to spend their money before they come in to town."

While she understands why free camping was introduced, she did not think it should be extended.

"What they have got is enough, they don't need to extend," Ms Hughes said.

The caravan park owner bought the business three-and-a-half years ago, before free camping was introduced to the South Burnett.

She believed things might have been different if she knew there would be a free camp ground 500m away.

"I might have looked at the price differently," she said.

"We would have weighed up our options."

South Burnett councillor Ros Heit said there were obviously two sides to the story.

"Absolutely we want to attract the free campers to the area," Cr Heit said.

"But at the same time we don't want to disadvantage local businesses."

Cr Heit said while there was nothing confirmed, the extension of the time limit at free camping areas was something that had been discussed.

"I have raised it but there is a little bit of push back," she said.

"I don't think there will be any change any time soon."

South Burnett

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