Article Comment: Free Camping

Submitted: Saturday, Dec 10, 2016 at 09:52
ThreadID: 133920 Views:3814 Replies:5 FollowUps:10
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Living in Port Macquarie I can say that people like US seem to respect the rules but going to any secluded car park at night or ANY car park after 7PM and there are those backpacker campers all over the place. Locals have even made signs asking them not to defecate in the bush as they are suspected to leave their waste on the surface. I think that if the facilities were there to make free camping easier; I feel there would be less problems with people violating the rules.
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Reply By: TomH - Saturday, Dec 10, 2016 at 10:08

Saturday, Dec 10, 2016 at 10:08
Maybe a good idea but are you prepared to contribute money to facilities that will be used for free by people just passing through.

Your rates may increase to provide these facilities, someone has to be paid to service them.
Who is going to pay and is there a benefit to the community as a whole or just the free loaders
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Follow Up By: BRS - Sunday, Dec 11, 2016 at 00:09

Sunday, Dec 11, 2016 at 00:09
It's a tourist town, paying high rates for other people to enjoy the facilities is a part of life =).
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Reply By: Member - Clive G (NZ) - Saturday, Dec 10, 2016 at 11:49

Saturday, Dec 10, 2016 at 11:49
Yes I think that councils should provide a reasonable level of facilities, it’s their core business. Short sighted local politicians (and they all seem to be) are very prone to the “not in our back yard” syndrome.

Here in NZ, the East coast city of Napier spent a lot of money installing good quality facilities at several spots along the coastal strip south of the city. There were length of stay restrictions put in place to prevent long term squatters, a local security company patrols the camps (about 7 or 8 of them) twice a day. A local newspaper did a survey and calculated that the initiative brought an extra 44,000 visitors to the city annually.

These camps are not full service but include flush toilets, clean water supply and rubbish collection, no power except lights in the toilets, they are cleaned daily. There is no bad behaviour or graffiti as the large number of campers are a de facto security system. All campers must be fully self-contained, no tents.

Small businesses opened up along the coastal strip, it goes for several kilometres, Bars, Fast food joints, small grocery stores, local winery’s added restaurants to their cellar doors, etc. The local commercial camp grounds screamed blue murder, as was predictable. Citing lost business, they still looked pretty full to me.

Then low and behold at the last council elections a new bunch got in (old ones retiring) with a hidden agenda, close the camps. I was camping there about 3 weeks ago and two of the camps had already closed, two more slated to go before Xmas, and the others were facing an upcoming time limit of one night stay per month only. The feeling among the campers around me was, this was our last trip to Napier. Pity about the business supporting the camps, hope the council has a welfare package ready. The council website makes no mention of all this, funny that.

Freedom camping is on the rise everywhere, and it’s not going away anytime soon. They cannot be beaten so it’s better to join them as the previous Napier council did.

Hamilton NZ.
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Follow Up By: TomH - Saturday, Dec 10, 2016 at 13:48

Saturday, Dec 10, 2016 at 13:48
While I dont entirely disagree with you I would think the core business of a Council is to provide services to ratepayers first and foremost.

You dont give the reasons for the Council closing the camp facilities. Cost,upkeep????

Perhaps they could keep them open but have a nominal nightly charge.

Oh no, would get screams of protest from those who expect everything for nothing.

Nothing is ever FREE someone somewhere has to pay. Should be the campers in this case.

As I understand it NZ mostly has had a gutful of FREE loaders dirtying up the place.
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Follow Up By: Member - Clive G (NZ) - Saturday, Dec 10, 2016 at 16:11

Saturday, Dec 10, 2016 at 16:11
Hi TomH
It has been difficult to find a reason behind the councils move. There was one complaint from a nearby resident that claimed that freedom campers were causing erosion of the beach, that’s bit far fetched. That coast line is subject to erosion problems though.

The truth may lie in an incident when I was last there. I recovered an unregistered dog with no ID off the road beside the camp. After hunting around the area I found a middle aged woman down a very long driveway opposite the camp who claimed the dog was hers. When I told her I was from the camp she railed into me about parasites living for nothing all summer in the camps. Tried to tell her that it was time limited and well policed she would have none of it, I was a parasite. Never mind I had just returned her wandering unregistered dog, she was lecturing me about the law. I wished her no success what so ever and walked off.

It showed at least two things, that she was just an ignorant local but also just how much misinformation is being spread around.

Most Freedom campers (and I should know I’ve been one for more years than I can count) don’t do it avoid the fees, but do it to avoid the petty campground rules, the packed in like sardines, the ridiculous morning check out times, the refusal to accept people with pets even though their own animals are running amok in the camp, the poor facilities that get cleaned whenever they get around to it. But of course there are a few irresponsible freedom campers who bring the whole lot into disrepute. Yes I hate them to. But to call the whole lot free loaders is not only unhelpful, but incorrect. Yes a lot of “free camps” here have a small charge, $6/head/night is common, I’m always willing to pay.

From my experience most of the trouble in free camp areas is caused by the local kids, probably the offspring of the councillors blaming the campers. As for the rate payers, do they want to part of a wider functioning society or are they happier blaming the rest of the world for their problems and just being plain difficult.

Cheers. Clive.
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Follow Up By: TomH - Saturday, Dec 10, 2016 at 17:39

Saturday, Dec 10, 2016 at 17:39
Well we spent nearly 2 years vanning around Aussie and stayed in Van parks every night Only struck two bad ones in the whole trip. Cost us about $50,000 for the trip but had a great time. Preferred the structured parks against the wild west free camps with poor or no facilities and little security.
Each to his own I guess If camps have a charge, they arent free are they.
I lived in NZ most of my life and have seen most of it and cleaned up after tourists who chucked their rubbish at their feet in National Parks. (Both NZ and internationals equally at fault)
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Follow Up By: Member - Rustygq - Monday, Dec 12, 2016 at 15:04

Monday, Dec 12, 2016 at 15:04
Couple of points.
Some people dont have the money to stay in parks all the time and I prefere to camp out anyway.
We do the so called, free camping, but its not free at all. We cant stay on the road for less than between $300 and $400 a week. This money is spent at the local supermarket, bottle shop, laundromat, Bakery, newsagent, countermeals, camping shops (gas refill an bait) and service station and last time even the local vet got some business..
For all the doubters, ask places like Tumbarumba Shire, Gunning, Jugiong and Junee who all have great free camping facilities.
We go where the free camp facilities are good and they get our money.
I heard that Junee put a box at their free camp (because the locals were dead set against the free camp) for the receipts for what the free campers (parasites) spent in the town. Ring and ask how much money is bought into the town in a month. The locals and businesses now recon the free camp is a great asset.
Moora in WA has free washing machines at the local C/Park. Because the nomads save their washing to do at the free machines they reckon its a great asset bringing money into the town.
Tumbarumba Shire have 3 or 4 well set up free camps some with flushing toilets and hot water. At any one time, even off peak there's 20 odd vans there between them. Double or triple that in peak times. Multiply that by 3 or 400 bucks a week going into the local economy??? Do the math.

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Reply By: Member Andys Adventures - Saturday, Dec 10, 2016 at 21:46

Saturday, Dec 10, 2016 at 21:46
We had the same problem at Dunbogan, and I rang the council several times about waste water being pumped into the river they were camped next to. The council said it cost to much to have the ranger go around all the time to move them on.
So I rang the EPA and sent photos of the waste pipe in the river..
2 months latter the council put up barriers to stop the big vans and motorhomes from parking.. It took another 3 months before the no camping signs went up..
So if you have no luck with council try a different way to achieve the same goal.
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Follow Up By: Member - Clive G (NZ) - Sunday, Dec 11, 2016 at 08:54

Sunday, Dec 11, 2016 at 08:54
Of course the Ranger can’t do anything, he’d have to live there 24/7 to try and control it.
So the council takes the stupid option and closes the area, what does that achieve? Do they think the travellers will just go home and say we can’t travel anymore? No they just move to the next spot and by now their numbers have increased because more people are hitting the road. The process then repeats itself until the council drives them all out of the entire district.

Then a month later a regional newspaper reports XYZ town is dying and business are closing.

A great result don’t you think??

A little forethought and planning could avoid the whole thing, but no the bigotry is too deeply entrenched.

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Follow Up By: Member Andys Adventures - Sunday, Dec 11, 2016 at 18:31

Sunday, Dec 11, 2016 at 18:31
This area did not have any toilets, but 1 klm over the bridge there was, but no view. So they camped with a view and put the waste water line into the river only 10 meters from oyster leases. They crap in the bush, left there mess and spent very little if any in town.
If you treat a camp site like that you don't deserve to camp their.

The area is now being used (family picnic) and the grass is growing back...
Our town can and is doing well without those type...
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Reply By: Baz - The Landy - Saturday, Dec 10, 2016 at 23:04

Saturday, Dec 10, 2016 at 23:04
The reality is - there is no such thing as free camping, someone pays!

Cheers, Baz- The Landy
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Follow Up By: Motherhen - Saturday, Dec 10, 2016 at 23:26

Saturday, Dec 10, 2016 at 23:26
But Baz, it need not cost any more than a parking area provided for vehicles during the day.

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Follow Up By: Baz - The Landy - Sunday, Dec 11, 2016 at 19:57

Sunday, Dec 11, 2016 at 19:57
Inevitably it does because you need facilities and someone to clean them. And if no facilities you still need someone to clear the crap, literally.

But MH we'll never agree on this I suspect

Cheers, Baz
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Reply By: eaglefree - Sunday, Dec 11, 2016 at 00:08

Sunday, Dec 11, 2016 at 00:08
The answer might come from education.
At some ideal moment, maybe when entering the country, backpackers are warned if the need to dispose of their waste correctly...even burying it as a last resort.
Such rental van could be made slightly larger to incorporate a dunny......;)
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Follow Up By: Member - Rustygq - Monday, Dec 12, 2016 at 15:20

Monday, Dec 12, 2016 at 15:20
One would hope a bit of education would help but in my experience most of us do the right thing but theres always some dipshits who stuff it up for everyone.

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