SA DEWNR parks ad camping

Submitted: Friday, Aug 22, 2014 at 18:37
ThreadID: 109245 Views:1971 Replies:8 FollowUps:14
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It seems we are making a move towards a system of pre booking for camping.
2 locations only, but it will spread no doubt.

National Parks SA - New online booking system

Very disappointing given the exposure to negative experiences from travelers on various forums.

I encourage anyone with concerns to use the email link on the last para to voice your concerns . . . I have.

"As we launch the system we would love to hear from you so that we can continue to improve our service. Send your feedback to DEWNR.OnlineBookings@sa.gov.au . . . "
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Reply By: Les PK Ranger - Friday, Aug 22, 2014 at 18:39

Friday, Aug 22, 2014 at 18:39
Whoops, link above was to previous reply on another thread !

This is it . . . *** National Parks SA - New online booking system ***
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Reply By: Motherhen - Friday, Aug 22, 2014 at 21:59

Friday, Aug 22, 2014 at 21:59
Check a Mike's Blog with the same news, and read my feedback Les. We have asked number of questions and SA Parks have considered and replied.

So far it is under way for two parks which were being filled in peak times. We expect to have to book a popular caravan park in peak periods, and the same applies here. Better than getting the family packed up, arriving on Friday night for a nice long weekend and finding the camp full and you have nowhere to go at short notice.

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Follow Up By: Les PK Ranger - Saturday, Aug 23, 2014 at 08:45

Saturday, Aug 23, 2014 at 08:45
Thanks Mh, will check Mikes blog if I can find it . . . I will possibly receive an email back form DEWNR next week with a similar reply to my concern, we will see.

I can fully understand the booking needs with expanding numbers wanting to holiday by camping, I have actually experienced it myself at Deep Creek (once) and had to move on to the far less pleasant Rapid Bay camping area.

But why not tackle the issue *in those places needed*, rather than limiting people and band aid solutions ?

More camping areas, more facilities, cater for the demand, not keep people out of a particular piece of bush, or possibly create conflict between an innocent party that has booked and a group of ignorant yobs that have taken a booked spot.
I have read of these occurrences on forums and it happens often, no Rangers present and even a couple of times there were, the Ranger avoided conflict himself and ended up advising the booked party to move on.

If this works for these 2 locations, I am sure they will expand it.
Why wouldn't they, it is much easier than having a Ranger do the rounds to empty the honour boxes at most SA sites, and a money stream into the coffers.
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Follow Up By: Motherhen - Saturday, Aug 23, 2014 at 09:18

Saturday, Aug 23, 2014 at 09:18
I linked Mike's Blog - click on the word Blog in my post above and it takes you to it.

A good submission to them to cater for the demand. Please let us know what they say in reply. The person we had replying surprised us by giving individual replies with much of it set text but relevant to our questions, rather than a bulk mail out of set text only I am used to getting.

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Follow Up By: Les PK Ranger - Saturday, Aug 23, 2014 at 09:21

Saturday, Aug 23, 2014 at 09:21
Oh ta for the blog heads up, thought it was just a link general blog info (like the feedback underline link) :)
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Follow Up By: Les PK Ranger - Saturday, Aug 23, 2014 at 11:31

Saturday, Aug 23, 2014 at 11:31
A good read, as well as the caravanners forum thread.
It seems at least they appear to be putting some thought into locations.
Still think they should expand sites and facilities at the limited busier venues, rather than closing it off to many.
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Reply By: Member - Alan H (QLD) - Saturday, Aug 23, 2014 at 08:10

Saturday, Aug 23, 2014 at 08:10
I have sent a protest to DEWNR via email

It seems as though they are copying QLD.

It is absurd that I must know way beforehand the exact date I will be at a particular park and which campsite I want to use.

What happened to just travelling along and being pleasantly surprised by camps along the way. I already avoid QLD NPs to avoid their system. This of course may be the plan a bit like "Yes Minister" the NP staff have an easier life if no one uses the parks.

Most parks cannot be fully enjoyed without staying for a while and exploring the park yet everything is done to make this as hard as possible.

Alan
AnswerID: 538065

Follow Up By: Motherhen - Saturday, Aug 23, 2014 at 12:15

Saturday, Aug 23, 2014 at 12:15
Hi Alan

I fully understand the unscheduled travel. That is why we are caravaners, and rarely make bookings anywhere.

Parks most in need of a booking system are holiday destinations rather than overnight stops. There are damned if they do and damned if they don't in some areas. Where parks fill to capacity, getting there with your family and finding no room would certainly spoil your holiday. Being able to book and ensure your place works as it does with holiday caravan parks.

In the feedback (following links) this statement from SA is included

"The departments new online booking system is a little different from the system that QLD parks is using.

Regarding the accessibility of the system we recognise that some visitors will not have a smart phone to make a booking. To accommodate these visitors we will set up local businesses as agents who can make bookings on behalf of our visitors. They will also take cash for visitors who do not have a credit or debit cards."

I doubt that the system will ever be rolled out to remote parks in South Australia.

Unless you are going to a key holiday park during school holidays or long weekends, if you can't get access in a park when travelling unscheduled, bush camp in the vicinity and go there in the morning as people leave.

In Western Australia they trialled a booking system for key holiday destination parks such as some along the Ningaloo Coast. Now the booking system is continuing on less parks that they started out with.

In South Australia, they are starting with two, seem to have done their research as well as listening to our feedback (did Queensland every ask us what we thought?).

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Follow Up By: Member - Alan H (QLD) - Saturday, Aug 23, 2014 at 13:01

Saturday, Aug 23, 2014 at 13:01
Yes MH I agree in general with what you say.

An issue with prepaid sites appears to be turning up to find someone else in "your" site. They need to train the rangers in conflict resolution.

It is bad enough for us to have to prepay - I am old enough to remember when it was the norm for any customer to receive the goods or services before being asked for a payment - I would be very put out to have gone t the trouble to prepay to find someone else has decided the site better suits them. - The last thing I want is to have to be prepared for conflict over claiming my prepaid site.

Many parks are worth more than just an overnight stay so just day visiting from an external campsite is not always the best or desireable.

Cheers

Alan
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Follow Up By: Motherhen - Saturday, Aug 23, 2014 at 13:08

Saturday, Aug 23, 2014 at 13:08
They did address the issue of 'campsite piracy' in part in answer to my feedback. Rangers may not always be near, nor may we have mobile phone service.

"There is a chance that some visitors may take a site that another has booked. This is one of the risks we have identified and have a few strategies in place to try and mitigate this such as having campground hosts and extra compliance activity in the interim.

The system will resolve some of the current issues we have with the self-registration system. During school holidays and long weekends we have visitors who travel great distances to our popular parks only to find the whole park is at maximum capacity and they have nowhere to stay. Many visitors do not carry cash or correct change, the online system allows visitors to use credit or debit cards. The most concerning issue we are currently faced with is vandalism and theft of our self-registration bays."


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Follow Up By: Member - Alan H (QLD) - Saturday, Aug 23, 2014 at 13:38

Saturday, Aug 23, 2014 at 13:38
MH

I tried to answer your message but I don't think it worked.

If not thanks for your comments

See you on the road one day

Alan
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Reply By: Rolo - Saturday, Aug 23, 2014 at 08:20

Saturday, Aug 23, 2014 at 08:20
Just come off a 5 week camping trip in Qld, our first of such duration. NP up there use online booking Meaning you need internet connections to book ahead. A number of campsites were also honour based which means you fill out a form with your details and cc details and they then bill you. We had no problems doing this although we noticed a number of folks not doing the right thing. Our attitude is that between $5 and $10 per person is good as long as it helps to keep the facilities up.
One issue for travellers in the outback is that if you book then get held up by mechanical or road problems and are late you cannot easily slip your booking.
Rolosenior.
AnswerID: 538067

Follow Up By: Les PK Ranger - Saturday, Aug 23, 2014 at 08:58

Saturday, Aug 23, 2014 at 08:58
Hey Rolo, good to see it's not rampant as yet . . . it is the pre booked camps of Cape York that really has a lot of folk worried.
Reading of some unpleasant experiences from people that have booked, it seems justified.

Did you get up to the cape, or were there other places you had to book online ?

Yes, $5 - $10 a night pp for camping with no facs (or maybe just decent drop toilets) is very fair, especially when considering the beaut places these usually are.
Here in SA it is generally $10 a car access (even if passing through like Ngarkat, but still a reasonable cost for access), and camping usually $10 a car.
(Although I'm almost 100% sure last trip down the Border Track early August it was $12 a car access, so maybe the website is incorrect.)

Besides the issues of breakdowns, road closures / conditions, etc, I like being able to travel and say to the wife this is a nice spot, lets stay another night, or arrive somewhere at 2 and feel move on to another spot up the road for the night.
It's probably not a big thing to work around, but these sort of draconian GOVCO policies seem to me to to encroach on those rights as a FIT (free independent traveller).
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Reply By: Turbo 1 - Sunday, Aug 24, 2014 at 08:29

Sunday, Aug 24, 2014 at 08:29
A lot of people getting their knickers in a twist over something that hasn't even started yet.

The two SA parks mentioned are often full and advance bookings were needed already. Having said that there are rangers on site to monitor things. I doubt very much SA will be impacted too much particularly the further you get out.

Forward your concerns and see how things pan out and don't let this 1st world issue cause too much grief, after all.... " It's a very small issue "

Cheers.
AnswerID: 538108

Follow Up By: Les PK Ranger - Sunday, Aug 24, 2014 at 09:31

Sunday, Aug 24, 2014 at 09:31
Turbo, apathy is a destroyer of freedoms everywhere.
It has supposedly started as of Aug 1st at these 2 parks.

If this works of (for GOVCO) at these 2 sites, so you really think they will limit it to these ?
Combine it with a terrible costly Parks Victoria type of restructure recently introduced, and it will impact a lot of people . . . people that love the bush, and appreciate a more relaxed type of holiday, at a relatively cheap cost.

Really I trust GOVCO as far as I can escape their incredible grasp they have over each persons everyday life.
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FollowupID: 822411

Follow Up By: Turbo 1 - Sunday, Aug 24, 2014 at 18:01

Sunday, Aug 24, 2014 at 18:01
Motherhen makes a lot of sense.

Cheers
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FollowupID: 822432

Reply By: Motherhen - Sunday, Aug 24, 2014 at 17:29

Sunday, Aug 24, 2014 at 17:29
Hi Les

Yes, these two parks are the first of the roll out, but it doesn't mean that it will extend to all parks; only those with a need for bookings. Neither does it mean they will charge campers the Earth Moon and Stars like Victoria does; where they have chosen to take all from campers and none from day visitors who use the same facilities. South Australia has relatively reasonable park entry fees and reasonable camp fee costs. Existing park passes and packages still exist.

Have travellers in South Australia had negative experiences from the new booking system? I have not heard from anyone who has used it as yet.

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AnswerID: 538118

Follow Up By: Turbo 1 - Sunday, Aug 24, 2014 at 17:59

Sunday, Aug 24, 2014 at 17:59
Yes, MH you always explain things so well.

This is a storm in a teacup and there may be the odd problem, just like there is now.

Some people just get too wound up over something so minor.

Cheers
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Follow Up By: cookie1 - Sunday, Aug 24, 2014 at 18:18

Sunday, Aug 24, 2014 at 18:18
They have started with 2

But don't forget the cost of a Desert Parks Pass, It used to be $90 back in 2005, it is now $130 a near 70% increase and the once windscreen sticker which was actually a nice souvenier is now a piece of photocopied A4 paper. There are no facilities except for Dalhousie & Purnie and I have rarely ever seen a ranger out there.

If you think they will not employ it elsewhere "tell em your dreamin" and then increase the fares into the debacle that is Parks Victoria.

If any of you have gone to the NT they realise how important the tourist dollar is to the surrounding businesses and charge accordingly. The last time I was at Palm Valley it was $7 each and that included gas barbeques, flushing toilets & hot showers.

Personally I think that people will bypass the areas for camping and maybe go to the NT instead denying the small businesses in the area income from the tourist dollar.

I don't mind paying for something but the way DEWNR are going we are paying for nothing but what nature has provided for us.

As far as not hearing any complaints, the system came in on the 1st August - were you expecting a riot? People will simply stop going to these places like a silent cancer - I guess then they can say "no one ever goes there so we can close it down".

cheers
1
FollowupID: 822434

Follow Up By: Les PK Ranger - Monday, Aug 25, 2014 at 11:17

Monday, Aug 25, 2014 at 11:17
The DP Pass is actually now $150, maybe just a typo there cookie1.
Pretty sure renewals within 3 months of expiry of previous period is $90.
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FollowupID: 822460

Reply By: Les PK Ranger - Sunday, Aug 24, 2014 at 18:09

Sunday, Aug 24, 2014 at 18:09
I hope you are both right ! :)

Just at a point in life where I don't trust GOVCO to organise a chook raffle a the local pub on a Friday night.

Personally, I feel that if GOVCO roll this out in 2 parks, they will have all the software in place online for 2 parks, easy to add other parks at will, and it works (for them), it will come.

It would be like a biz developing a website shop for it's biggest 2 clients, and saying to all the others hey you can still phone or email your orders through.

Anyway, happy travels and camping to you both.
AnswerID: 538124

Reply By: Les PK Ranger - Monday, Aug 25, 2014 at 11:24

Monday, Aug 25, 2014 at 11:24
Got a reply from Sarah too.

----
Thanks for your email.

I have received a number of comments regarding the QLD parks system. The system we are using is similar to Parks Victoria’s.

There are a few reasons for us to transition to an online system:

• For many of our visitors it is more convenient – they can book and plan ahead and don’t have to carry the correct amount of cash. Many interstate and overseas visitors tend to expect an option to book online.
• We have had problems over time with our ‘iron rangers’ being vandalised. This is an issue across the state and we are losing money to theft and having to replace and repair iron rangers.
• It will also make the system of picking a camping site fairer – as we have had issues with people trying to stake claims on camping sites before long weekends/competing for camping spots. Online booking is fairer as only one person can legitimately book each camping spot
For visitors who have not been to the park before we have tried to provide the information they require to make an informed decision about what site they book. For each campsite the system will display:
• An image of the individual site
• What vehicles are suitable for the site i.e. caravan, campervan, tent etc.
• Where the site is located in proximity to the amenities
• Any other information i.e. shady site, near creek, fire pit etc
I hope you will visit Mount Remarkable or Innes National Park, not just because they are beautiful parks, but so you can provide feedback on the booking system. As we implement online bookings we are using visitor feedback to further develop the system to make it more user friendly. For this reason your feedback is sincerely appreciated.

If you have any further questions or comments please let me know.
----

While a lot of this makes sense, you'd be crazy to think they will be putting in the online system for these 2 parks and leaving it at that . . . no, it's a money stream, and they will no doubt roll it out, along with possible consequences to travellers, especially in more remote locations.

I'm also also a bit cynical about them one day doing a Park Vic sort of 'user pays' pricing system too, to pay for all the booking costs / upgrades.
We already 'user pays' through our taxes, will they go down ?
Apparently Vics still pay a levy for parks on some bill they get (?).

Anyway, I replied . . .

---
Thanks for the reply Sarah.

There were quite a few comments about your replies to other inquiries on various forums, all positive to your addressing of the concerns.

I truly hope this works, and will not go widespread, as travel is often impromptu for free independent travellers, who like to stay and go as they please when they arrive at places in our parks, and find they like somewhere another day or two, or would rather move on.

My only other concern is people pre booking a site for multiple days, to cater for unplanned issues that may arise, detours, breakdowns, and the likes.
Often campsites are found to be booked out in QLD, only to have many spots empty when a travellers passes through . . . Or, you arrive to your booked site and there are a bunch of undesirables already there and no ranger to assist moving them on.
One case I read, a ranger did arrive, and even he couldn’t get the intruders to move on, telling the bookee they should find another spot nearby.

Yes, have camped and walked / fished at Mt R and Innes, they are nice spots.

Again thanks for your reply, and I guess time will tell if this works, is expanded over time, and how it may or may not inconvenience travellers.
---

So, let's see where it goes.
AnswerID: 538148

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