King Edward River free campground, not free anymore.

I dont know if this has been posted before but in 2009 when i went there it was a free camp area with a long drop toilet and you could camp anywhere along the river front.
I just got back from there and it is now a paid campground and the area to camp in has been halved. There are now 2 flush toilets, one in the paid area and one in the day use area.
Whilst at the day use car park where there is a new flush toilet, tour bus after tour bus was pulling into the area and the tourists using the toilet. Now i know thats better than doing your business in the bush with paper flying everywhere, but i think the paid campers would be subsidizing these people for the upkeep of the toilet. There were about 4 workers working in the camp area that i saw and 2 of them were pumping out the toilet because it was full. And no wonder from the amount of buses that pulled in and the amount of people that piled out to use it. I did not camp there this year or use the toilet but visited the rock art sites and waterfall and moved on.
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Reply By: Michaeljp - Sunday, Jul 21, 2013 at 14:09

Sunday, Jul 21, 2013 at 14:09
I forgot to add, that ive camped there many times in the past 20 years. The campground has always been kept clean by the campers themselves and the toilet was always useable. Not that smelly or flyblown.
In my cynical opinion its just another way for someone to cash in on the tourist of which most would be Australian travelers. I wouldn't be surprised if it was these tour companies that lobbied someone to install new toilets for their paying customers to use while traveling on to Mitchell Falls, as once the bus load had finished their business off they went to Mitchell falls.
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Reply By: Member - Mfewster(SA) - Sunday, Jul 21, 2013 at 15:39

Sunday, Jul 21, 2013 at 15:39
We were there a few weeks ago. I think the person looking after the site is a volunteer and is doing a good job. When more campers arrived at the furthest camp ground he arranged for another toilet to be shifted to that area. We found the person concerned to be knowledgeable about the area and very helpful. Given the number of buses and other travellers going up to the falls, I think the increased work on the site is warranted.

I mean, if we want heavily used sites like this to have facilities that stop them becoming tips, it is fair enough that a charge is made. Let's face it, the fees are very low. Or we could just pay more taxes?

Some time soon I want to write a bit more extensively about our experiences with the WA parks, overnight camp sites and their volunteer system. Very briefly, we were impressed.
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Follow Up By: Michaeljp - Monday, Jul 22, 2013 at 19:32

Monday, Jul 22, 2013 at 19:32
I dont think the men i saw there were volunteers. They all had some sort of sew on patch stating where they were from. And i say men, more than 1. They were camped behind the day use area up against a rock outcrop. They may well have been volunteers but i doubt it.
Every time ive been to KER and thats about 10 times in the past 17 years it was always in a very clean state.
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Reply By: Hairy (NT) - Sunday, Jul 21, 2013 at 16:00

Sunday, Jul 21, 2013 at 16:00
Gday,
Sadly its only going to get worse.
The more the population rises the more crowded places will become. Enjoy it while you can.

Cheers
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Follow Up By: Michaeljp - Monday, Jul 22, 2013 at 19:38

Monday, Jul 22, 2013 at 19:38
Unfortunately Hairy you are right. Its getting harder and harder to find a place all to youself or with just a couple of others there. I made the mistake of starting mny holidays at the end of June, I'll have to make it May from now on.
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Follow Up By: Member - Mfewster(SA) - Monday, Jul 22, 2013 at 20:52

Monday, Jul 22, 2013 at 20:52
OK Michael, I didn't actually ask the bloke we spoke to whether or not he was a volunteer. He appeared to be similar to the volunteers we found at sites right across WA. They collect fees and generally look after the sites. I thin k the bloke at KER we spoke to was called John. Might be wrong about that. He was very helpful in helping us to find indigenous art galleries in the area and with advice on the drive to the falls. When it became apparent that more numbers were arriving at the lower camping area he quickly arranged for a toilet to be delivered and ensured that it was maintained.
If he wasn't one of the volunteer group I can't imagine who was paying him.
While we were there, the local ranger dropped in for a chat and was also very helpful with local info. He obviously knew the bloke we thought was a volunteer.
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Reply By: Motherhen - Sunday, Jul 21, 2013 at 20:24

Sunday, Jul 21, 2013 at 20:24
Yes Michael, I was aware of the fees being introduced together with 'improvements' and a caretaker in peak season. I have it listed at $10 per person per night. Was that what you paid? Another caravanner told me that the wonderful 'second' campground where we stayed by the edge of the water had been allocated to tour groups. A shame, as it was a favourite campground of mine. We spend a few days and nights there in 2008, including visiting it again for another night on the way back from Kalumburu because we liked it so much.

Motherhen
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Follow Up By: CSeaJay - Monday, Jul 22, 2013 at 09:19

Monday, Jul 22, 2013 at 09:19
And a word of warning - the tour groups are viceous when they arrive and find someone in 'their' spot. If they won't get you to move they will set up camp around you and you don't want to be there amongst all the late and early noise
CJ
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Follow Up By: Motherhen - Monday, Jul 22, 2013 at 09:46

Monday, Jul 22, 2013 at 09:46
What a shame. There was only one adventure coach in the time we were there and they fitted in quietly and nicely. Next day the driver couldn't start with a problem with starter motor. We were able to get brushes from our spare water pump and with a bit of ingenuity got him going.

I can relate to the late and noise. Some time ago at Karijini campground, the tour coach section was well in earshot of where we were camped, and a young group were around the their fire until very late and didn't spare the noise. The next day, like us, they did most of the gorge walks and climbs down into them. Not a squeak out of them after dusk LOL :)

Mh
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Follow Up By: Michaeljp - Monday, Jul 22, 2013 at 19:35

Monday, Jul 22, 2013 at 19:35
I didnt stay there motherhen, I dont like being corralled into a stall a few feet from the next person. I drove onto Surveyors Pool and camped there, and Walsh Point.
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Reply By: Drysdale River Station - Monday, Jul 22, 2013 at 20:47

Monday, Jul 22, 2013 at 20:47
Hi Everyone,

The camp ground at King Edward is run by DEC now called since 1 st July Dept of Parks and Wildlife.

As far as I can see no one is as you say 'cashing in' , I'd bet it's costing them more to run and install all the new facilities than they will get out of it for years. They also put in all those new gravelled parking areas near the art sites as the vehicle numbers were disturbing a lot of area and the wet was then ripping the loose ground up.
It's low cost to stay there after all.
The toilet was in the past useable and clean because DEC always used to send someone down to clean it every few days before they had a camp host there to do the job.
Yes I do agree larger areas are nicer so that people are not crammed in.
The present toilets ( that they were pumping out) are in fact a very temporary measure to cope with the numbers while they install more flash new ones. The numbers that use that area are now large and no it wouldn't have coped with the lack of toilets much longer, you only have to look at the Gibb River Crossing at the end of each dry season to see what is now happening to unattended areas. It's disgusting.
The blokes with logos are Parks & Wildlife employees / rangers. The campground hosts are sort of volunteers, they just get a small amount for food and do this job because they like being there or other similar places.
Michael, you are lucky the rangers didn't catch you camped at Surveyors as that is a no no and there are signs everywhere there saying NO camping and fines apply.
Part of this whole problem is everyone wants a spot to themselves but 85% of people then leave their mess behind, then complain when someone takes it on and tries to keep clean etc, therefore charges for the service.
I have said it before that while some of you are very clean many many others are not and that is only part of the problem.
I know for a fact those rangers spent weeks last wet season pulling and spraying all the nasty weeds and prickles brought in on campers swags, tents etc etc. Some of those seeds are viable for 7 years !
If no one takes on and controls this weed problem the whole North Kimberley is going to be wrecked. Never used to be nasty Starr bur etc up there, now there is heaps and the more uncared for places people camp, the more the weed problem spreads.
All around it's a no win situation, people want private camps, all on land others are paying rent or upkeep for but many still expect those camps to be for free. Then they go home and leave someone else to clean up the weed problem etc. Most people have no idea at all that they have even brought the weeds with them.
By the way as for the campers at KE subsidising the buses it's probably the other way around. While many of the tours do not camp at the King Edward it's all the same fund bucket and all those tour companies then take their many guests on up to the Mitchell where they also pay entry fees etc etc.
You also could have used those KE toilets for free if you had just been passing by on the way to Mitchell same as they did. It will be the money from the Mitchell that will be subsidising the KE camp ground improvements at present.
Also last but not least the money from the camping fees at both places also helps cover maintaining the Mitchell plateau track which is now graded a couple of times or more a season instead of once every second year as it was in the past.
cheers, Anne
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Follow Up By: Michaeljp - Tuesday, Jul 23, 2013 at 16:24

Tuesday, Jul 23, 2013 at 16:24
Hi Anne,
Thanks for clearing this up and setting me straight on the DEC blokes who are working there and doing a good job. I just get very cynical when something that has been free for so long suddenly changes to a pay for use area. I understand that with so many people visiting the area something had to be done or we would be camping amongst filth eventually.
I did see the No Camping signs at Surveyors Pool, but i got back to the car park after dark, having walked down stream from the falls looking for rock art and just rolled the swag out till morning then went onto Walsh Point.
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Follow Up By: Member - Min (NSW) - Tuesday, Jul 23, 2013 at 18:09

Tuesday, Jul 23, 2013 at 18:09
Thank you, Anne, another very helpful contribution.

We are just returning from a trip to the far NW of Qld and are realising that things are changing. The sheer numbers of people mean that the beautiful parts of our country are being loved to death. We have to accept reasonable change and we must be prepared to pay for change lest these treasures be ruined forever.

Min
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Follow Up By: Tjukayirla Roadhouse - Wednesday, Jul 24, 2013 at 10:25

Wednesday, Jul 24, 2013 at 10:25
Sadly people will always ignore "no camping" areas, ruining places for everybody altogether in the future. Then they'll get on the internet and complain about it.
Anne, thanks for a great explanation.

Cheers
Al
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