NT set to introduce mandatory online booking for campsites

Submitted: Friday, Dec 04, 2020 at 10:22
ThreadID: 140829 Views:2659 Replies:12 FollowUps:33
Heads up folks. I'm not a regular here but read the forum from time to time and know this topic had been discussed at length.
The Northern Territory is set to introduce major changes to use of its Parks. Most of it is about revenue and user pays, including casual day use, but I will leave that alone. User Pays is ultimately a value decision for users. (note that this does not apply to Kakadu or Uluru which are Commonwealth run)

My main concern is the plan to allow camping only for those who have pre booked and prepaid using an online system. The system will probably be the one currently used in Queensland.
Planning is well under way. Funding has been allocated for a booking system and Government has signed off on it. There has not been, nor will there be, any public consultation.

Very soon you will not be able to explore wilderness areas of the NT and camp in the site of your choice. You will need to book in advance, including the specific site, not just the location. Very few remote camps in the NT have phone or internet access. There will be no onsite management to deal with conflicts or to allow variations. The out of touch fat cat bureaucrats who dream up these ideas really don't get it. It will probably be sold as part of a Covid economic recovery plan, but was actually underway well before the pandemic.

Government plans to sell the idea to locals as a way of raising large sums of money by screwing tourists. The entire business case is based on this. Many of you have experienced these systems in other states and know how they detract from the wilderness experience.

This is happening and will be announced very soon. If you don't like this kind of bureaucratic control of your bush camping experience and you plan on travelling to the NT in the near future, then maybe you should rethink those plans.
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Reply By: Bazooka - Friday, Dec 04, 2020 at 11:20

Friday, Dec 04, 2020 at 11:20
Doubt anyone will change their plans to visit the NT on the basis of an unsubstantiated rumour. Could be wrong but my skeptical brain suggests that NT Parks would have floated the notion publicly and/or word would have leaked out long ago, esp given you say they're a long way down the track with the process. Nevertheless is there any evidence for your comment Somewhere2? An anon source inside NT PS maybe?
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Follow Up By: Somewhere2 - Friday, Dec 04, 2020 at 12:49

Friday, Dec 04, 2020 at 12:49
Sadly, it is more than rumour.

The NT Minister for Parks and Rangers is Selena Uibo.
email address is minister.uibo@nt.gov.au
phone is 08 89365529

email or call and ask them to deny or refute. I can guarantee they won't
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Follow Up By: Bazooka - Friday, Dec 04, 2020 at 14:17

Friday, Dec 04, 2020 at 14:17
Thanks S2. I've emailed her and messaged the Dept. Let you know what the response is.
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Follow Up By: Member - McLaren3030 - Saturday, Dec 05, 2020 at 08:19

Saturday, Dec 05, 2020 at 08:19
I believe that this has been mentioned on this site before. I think member “Kakadu” (I think that is his “moniker” on here), mentioned something about this either earlier this year, or last year. I could be wrong of course, but I had heard of this plan before.

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Follow Up By: Bazooka - Saturday, Dec 05, 2020 at 11:46

Saturday, Dec 05, 2020 at 11:46
Well remembered Macca. Here's the thread:
Steve in Kakadu Online Camping Query

Seems Steve's query may have been more than happenstance.
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Follow Up By: Candace S. - Saturday, Dec 05, 2020 at 12:06

Saturday, Dec 05, 2020 at 12:06
Well done, Bazooka...I tried and failed to find that old thread!

A more general internet search likewise failed to substantiate the OP claims. But we'll see what response you get.
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Follow Up By: Peter_n_Margaret - Saturday, Dec 05, 2020 at 13:20

Saturday, Dec 05, 2020 at 13:20
The "Steve in Kakadu" thread was about Kakadu (Federal), not about NT (Territory) parks.
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Follow Up By: Somewhere2 - Saturday, Dec 05, 2020 at 13:55

Saturday, Dec 05, 2020 at 13:55
Correct - it was about Kakadu. I don't know if they took the feedback onboard but at least they asked.
If the bureaucrats who run NT Parks want your opinion they will give it to you.

I know that the advice they provided to Government regarding the experiences of other states who had implemented on line booking systems was that the experiences were overwhelmingly positive and popular with the users of parks in those jurisdictions.

Probably true for some who regularly visit places that are heavily used and who know the place they want to camp. They have probably camped there before and have the comfort of knowing they can reserve the spot for the next trip. Not so for those who like to explore and value the bush journey.

The experiences elsewhere (including my own) are far from overwhelmingly positive. The advice to
the NT Government was selective and filtered to support a pre determined outcome.
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Follow Up By: Gronk - Sunday, Dec 06, 2020 at 09:10

Sunday, Dec 06, 2020 at 09:10
NSW did this at the start of covid......for all NP sites, even the free ones.
And I don't think they will relax it after covid.
For me, NP will now be a last resort as I hate booking anything in advance.
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Reply By: Member - Jim S1 - Friday, Dec 04, 2020 at 14:29

Friday, Dec 04, 2020 at 14:29
I haven't seen any state figures for camping revenues since the on-line booking was introduced , in Queensland at least. I suspect that there are more then a few who just rock up and camp, and because there aren't any envelopes and no internet, just camp for free.
On our last trip to a fairly remote Mt Moffatt near Carnarvon, it seemed that most people had booked and had their permits, but it was holiday time.
It's a right pain when you are touring and just don't know where or when you'll be overnighting. An honesty system of paying after you have used facilities might work for the honest ones.
I can understand that the rangers have better things to do.
Maybe the system will evolve and become more useful for travellers, and not just for the city office workers who want to book in advance.
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Reply By: Member - Wildmax - Friday, Dec 04, 2020 at 20:07

Friday, Dec 04, 2020 at 20:07
Dickheads who dream up these schemes never camp more than 10 km from the CBD, generally in a luxury AirBnB !!
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Reply By: Member - DOZER - Friday, Dec 04, 2020 at 22:23

Friday, Dec 04, 2020 at 22:23
In NSW, this system is used. If you book, there is no guarantee your spot wont be occupied when you get there, and the hairy bloke will tell you to find another rather than pack up...no ranger to assist you, they are told to photograph and send fines through the mail...if you can get through to their office to contact them to begin with. Then there is whether issues, because you book weeks in advance.....bad luck if you dont turn up. cha-ching. Having been along the Binns, and having an awsome stay at the policemans water hole Davenport ranges, im so glad i did it pre this system....we were delayed 4 days in Alice from a gearbox seal replacement.
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Reply By: Member - Cuppa - Wednesday, Dec 09, 2020 at 07:53

Wednesday, Dec 09, 2020 at 07:53
Oh no, what a shame. For years the NT has demonstrated the ability to manage NP camping better than any other state IMHO. This is a major retrograde step which like Qld demonstrates a complete lack of care or understanding of the needs of anyone bar short term holiday makers.

EDIT. I looked online to find ‘evidence’ of this ‘impending madness’ but could find nothing. I had intended to write to convey my views to the NT National parks. PLEASE CAN YOU POST A LINK TO THESE PLANS in order for me (& others hopefully) to respond. Thanks.
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Follow Up By: Somewhere2 - Wednesday, Dec 09, 2020 at 15:20

Wednesday, Dec 09, 2020 at 15:20
You won't find anything online at this stage apart from leaked information. The NT Government is not letting anything out.
When it is announced it will be bundled into a broader Post Covid recovery plan (all fiction as they were working on it before anyone ever heard of Covid 19) that has significant revenue benefits to government because of the introduction of a range of quite steep user pays arrangements. The cost of doing anything in an NT Park will rise. Day use which was previously free will be subject to charges.
One of the sweeteners will be announcement of the opening up of new camping areas in Litchfield Park. This too, preceded Covid 19. The 'new' areas are old camping areas that the Govt closed years ago. Most of the work to re-open them was undertaken by four wheel drive clubs.

I encourage you to raise this issue prior to the announcement, because by then it will be too late. Take it up with NT Parks if you like but also send your views to the Minister. She is relatively new in the portfolio and wasn't part of the original planning for these changes. Contact details are included in one of my posts above.
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Follow Up By: Member - Cuppa - Wednesday, Dec 09, 2020 at 15:57

Wednesday, Dec 09, 2020 at 15:57
Thanks 'SW2'. I had already written to the NT Parks dept, & have subsequently sent the following to the Minister as suggested. I too encourage everyone else to follow suit. The possibility of effectively losing access to OUR National Parks is not acceptable.

Dear Minister Uibo,

I wish to draw your attention to the following post, about NT government intentions with regard to National Parks on the ExplorOz website. I encourage you to read all the posts in the thread.

https://www.exploroz.com/forum/140829/nt-set-to-introduce-mandatory-online-booking-for-campsites

I sincerely hope that the information is incorrect.

This sort of mandatory booking system may suit short term holiday makers, but it is completely impractical for the many longer term travellers such as my wife & I.

Any requirement to make date specific bookings totally fails to recognise the reality of travel where many things can occur to make sticking to a booked date impossible (& unwanted). The booking system in Queensland Parks has demonstrated this.

Many of us are retired & living on a modest fixed budget. Increases in Access & Camping fees will also deny us the opportunity to have fair access to our National Parks which must remain a valued public asset for all, not a means of revenue raising.

Like many we travel to explore & enjoy our country, viewing our National parks as the ‘Jewels in the crown’. What we find however is in Queensland we are largely bypassing these ‘Jewels’ due to the impracticality of needing a fixed itinerary, & find ourselves feeling resentful as a result. At the very least we believe that every National Park should provide ‘dual’ access to allow the many travellers for whom pre-booking is so impractical to visit the parks, as well as for those who can & wish to pre-book.

For decades we have shared our views with fellow travellers about how out of all the States we think the NT has done National Park camping the best, in terms of facilities, cost & accessibility and hope that this is not going to be changed by ‘bean counters’ who appear to have little or no understanding (or care) of the impact their narrow view will have upon many who’s right to National Park access is equal to those whom pre-booking might suit.

My wife & I would welcome a response from you confirming or clarifying /denying the plan’s referred to in the linked post.

Yours Sincerely
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Follow Up By: Frank P (NSW) - Wednesday, Dec 09, 2020 at 17:23

Wednesday, Dec 09, 2020 at 17:23
That's an excellent letter, Cuppa. I couldn't do better than that. May I plagiarise it? :-)

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Follow Up By: Bazooka - Wednesday, Dec 09, 2020 at 17:34

Wednesday, Dec 09, 2020 at 17:34
I think it's a great idea to write to the Minister as you did Cuppa. My email query was short and sweet but I did mention to her that the rumoured pre-booking system was fraught with problems for many travellers. I didn't expect an immediate response but the Minister's office acknowledged my query on Monday. The Dept responsible, understandably, hasn't responded at all (yet).
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Follow Up By: Member - Cuppa - Wednesday, Dec 09, 2020 at 17:36

Wednesday, Dec 09, 2020 at 17:36
By all means Frank, although it would be worth personalising it a little if you can.
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Follow Up By: Frank P (NSW) - Wednesday, Dec 09, 2020 at 17:41

Wednesday, Dec 09, 2020 at 17:41
"although it would be worth personalising it a little if you can."

Of course.

Thanks, Cuppa.
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Reply By: Nifty1 - Thursday, Dec 10, 2020 at 21:57

Thursday, Dec 10, 2020 at 21:57
That is pretty dismal news - NT camping was the best organised in the country and also the best value and easiest to live with. But if in future I contract to use a specific site and prepay it, and can’t use it because someone else is there, what comeback do I have? I suspect you’re not allowed to sell stuff you can’t deliver. (I won’t be fighting the hairy bloke to resolve it either). That’s forgetting the problems in Victoria of scoring a site at Thurra River and finding it under water, or a site at Gundabooka in NSW that was occupied legitimately by someone who used the envelope system which was running in conjunction with the online bookings - same site booked but no way to prevent double booking. I think I prefer the QLD ranger’s note at Diamantina, “ just enjoy your stay and pay later, we understand the problems” or words to that effect.
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Follow Up By: Frank P (NSW) - Thursday, Dec 10, 2020 at 22:05

Thursday, Dec 10, 2020 at 22:05
"I think I prefer the QLD ranger’s note at Diamantina, “ just enjoy your stay and pay later, we understand the problems” or words to that effect."

If only bureaucracy was that sensible!
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Follow Up By: Member - Mark (Tamworth NSW) - Friday, Dec 11, 2020 at 07:20

Friday, Dec 11, 2020 at 07:20
The Diamantina rangers are a very special couple who have lived in far western Qld for many years, they aren't interested in being camp site managers though, they have also worked in the Brisbane head office.

Diamantina wouldn't get "booked out" very often, there's lots of space there. Most rangers just don't want to know about the on line booking system, it's not why they became rangers.
I've been a victim of "squatters" camping on my pre booked site as well as Lakefield
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Follow Up By: Member - Cuppa - Friday, Dec 11, 2020 at 18:56

Friday, Dec 11, 2020 at 18:56
"I think I prefer the QLD ranger’s note at Diamantina, “ just enjoy your stay and pay later, we understand the problems” or words to that effect".

This from the Bladensburg NP in September 2017. The rangers have more important things to do than to be the bean counter's police.

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Follow Up By: Member - McLaren3030 - Saturday, Dec 12, 2020 at 08:11

Saturday, Dec 12, 2020 at 08:11
Yes Cuppa,

This was also the attitude of the rangers at Inskip Point several years ago when the pre paid permit was first introduced. We could not get anyone to answer when we rang, the rangers happened along and when I told them we could not get an answer on the phone, they replied with a similar response.

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Reply By: Michael H9 - Sunday, Dec 13, 2020 at 07:32

Sunday, Dec 13, 2020 at 07:32
I prefer the concept of daily or yearly passes for access to national parks. Booking actual campsites should only apply to heavy use areas in populated regions, (I avoid such places like the plague). That brings me to my next gripe, where the camping fee includes two people even if you're on your own. Solo campers regularly get ripped off yet cause less trouble and use less resources. You shouldn't be penalized for having no friends.... :-)
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Follow Up By: Member - Cuppa - Sunday, Dec 13, 2020 at 14:40

Sunday, Dec 13, 2020 at 14:40
I would happily pay for a fair priced NATIONAL National Parks pass which afforded me both access & camping in parks right across the country. Certainly a fixed price would see some get more for their money than others, but I reckon it would work reasonably well & be far cheaper to manage.
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Follow Up By: Michael H9 - Monday, Dec 14, 2020 at 08:01

Monday, Dec 14, 2020 at 08:01
The only problem is that national parks are run by each state government all with different rules. It would be like herding cats managing that. There are only 7 parks managed by the federal government.
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Reply By: Bazooka - Thursday, Dec 17, 2020 at 21:02

Thursday, Dec 17, 2020 at 21:02
The silence from the Dept and the Minister is deafening.
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Follow Up By: Somewhere2 - Friday, Dec 18, 2020 at 09:37

Friday, Dec 18, 2020 at 09:37
Yes mate, it's how things work in the NT. A public service that thinks it has some God given right to undertake its business in secret and an elected government that condones it. That's not a political statement as it doesn't change when a different party gets elected.
Since this subject appeared on this forum and a few community minded people sought clarification from government, the system has gone into a spin. What are they worried about? Your opinion? No - what has their attention is finding the source of the leek.
The lid has really tightened on this.

You have to wonder about the mindset. This is ultimately about where someone rolls out their swag in the middle of nowhere, not a matter of national security. Why not be open and honest? Why not seek public views on the subject before locking in? All they have achieved is to make themselves look like sleazebags.

This was going to be announced early to mid 2021. They wanted to get the booking system in place before they let the public know about it. I wouldn't be surprised to see the announcement brought forward now it is out of the bag.
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Follow Up By: Steve in Kakadu - Friday, Dec 18, 2020 at 10:39

Friday, Dec 18, 2020 at 10:39
I just spoke with a ranger from NT Parks. He said he has heard rumours but that's about it and the initiative is actually coming from Tourism NT, not the minister. He thinks that if it did happen, it would probably only be Litchfield at this point.
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Follow Up By: Somewhere2 - Friday, Dec 18, 2020 at 12:12

Friday, Dec 18, 2020 at 12:12
Your source is not reliable or is trying to throw you off the trail. Some rangers know more than others. It came from the head of NT Parks. Not for the first time. Previous attempts have been rejected by government. It will apply to all parks, not just Litchfield.
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Follow Up By: Steve in Kakadu - Friday, Dec 18, 2020 at 12:43

Friday, Dec 18, 2020 at 12:43
Somewhere2, I am beginning to think you are a troll.

My source as you crudely put it is a colleague of 30 years, and has no reason to throw me off. He had no idea why I was ringing and I simply asked him if he had heard the rumour.

Secondly I know the person in Tourism NT that is supposedly toying with the idea, I have known him for nearly 30 years as well.

Nothing is set in concrete, other than the agenda you have to stir the pot., so far you have given no evidence at all to prove your story.

Put your evidence out there or move on.
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Follow Up By: Bazooka - Friday, Dec 18, 2020 at 13:04

Friday, Dec 18, 2020 at 13:04
A single person in Tourism NT is toying with the idea without consulting users (ie tourists) or rangers or administrators/managers? Seems a VERY odd way to conduct business Steve . My questions are what problem(s) is he trying to solve, will his second-hand idea create more problems (mentioned previously on this forum) than it solves, and what is the cost/benefit ratio?

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Follow Up By: Steve in Kakadu - Friday, Dec 18, 2020 at 13:48

Friday, Dec 18, 2020 at 13:48
I guess what I was trying to say was. The NT parks ranger was saying that the rumour was, that it was someone from Tourism NT's thought bubble. That's why I said nothing is set in concrete, because it seemed to me like it was someone's thought bubble and the OP has given no evidence to suggest otherwise.

I just happen to know the person that the ranger was talking about.
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Follow Up By: Bazooka - Friday, Dec 18, 2020 at 14:25

Friday, Dec 18, 2020 at 14:25
Call me a skeptic Steve but like many things in bureaucracies it seems to me to be a solution looking for a problem. Admittedly I don't know why fc-fs camping is suddenly a problem. There must be a reason. Presumably some people aren't paying fees or would like to be certain about obtaining a site so would embrace a pre-booking system? If the tourism guy is happy to sit on a help desk for 6 months to sort out problems with bookings, disputes over sites, payment refunds, lack of access to (or knowledge of) online facilities etc then I'd be more supportive.

Btw, thanks for your pre-emptive strike on this issue a while back.
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Follow Up By: Somewhere2 - Friday, Dec 18, 2020 at 14:29

Friday, Dec 18, 2020 at 14:29
I'm not silly enough to be provoked into giving myself away.
There is one way this could be put to bed - that is if the Minister or Head of NT Parks came out and denied that it was true. I don't mean say there is a 'thought bubble', but say it is not true that there is a specific submission before government to introduce mandatory on line booking for NT Parks campsites. That is not a difficult thing to do.
Several members of this forum have asked that question and cannot get an answer. That should tell you something.
I think I will bow out at this stage.
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Follow Up By: Member - PhilD_NT - Saturday, Jan 16, 2021 at 02:25

Saturday, Jan 16, 2021 at 02:25
According to a story in the NTNews that I've just been reading there may be an announcement made in the coming days with possible fees to enter parks and increased camping fees that could apply from June.

Sorry, can't link to article as it's a subscriber only access.
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Reply By: Somewhere2 - Sunday, Jan 17, 2021 at 10:17

Sunday, Jan 17, 2021 at 10:17
This is now out in the open. It's all over NT print and television media.
NT Government has confirmed that fees will be introduced, though there seems to have been some backdown, or at least backing off of the original proposals. Revised details will be released through the week.

Not a lot on the camp site booking issue as I don't think the press quite gets it.

NT News quoted:
"The government has since confirmed it would introduce fees for multi-day walking trails, such as the Larapinta Trail, and increase camping fees from July 2021.
A new online booking system will also be introduced."

Try the NT News website. Much of it is subscription only, but if you download the NTNews app, you can read the story without subscribing.



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Follow Up By: Member - Mark (Tamworth NSW) - Sunday, Jan 17, 2021 at 12:55

Sunday, Jan 17, 2021 at 12:55
Having walked the Larapinta Trail, I was amazed it didn't have fees, though difficult to police
The Jatbula Trail (Nitmuluk/ Katherine Gorge NP) has had fees since inception

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Follow Up By: Somewhere2 - Thursday, Jan 21, 2021 at 16:28

Thursday, Jan 21, 2021 at 16:28
NT Government seems determined to push ahead with campsite booking system despite the clear messages they have received.

https://tendersonline.nt.gov.au/Tender/DetailsFTO?id=2132

Future tender opportunity has been published on NT Gov website.
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Reply By: ExplorOz Team - Michelle - Thursday, Jan 21, 2021 at 17:41

Thursday, Jan 21, 2021 at 17:41
Here's an open article you can read about it from the ABC News website https://www.abc.net.au/news/2021-01-17/nt-government-confirm-national-park-fees-on-cards-for-tourists/13064804
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Reply By: Somewhere2 - Monday, Mar 01, 2021 at 11:35

Monday, Mar 01, 2021 at 11:35
Update
Interesting press release from Fourwheeeldrive.NT and video from John Rooth which sums things up very well. Pity no one in govt seems to be listening.

https://fourwheeldrivent.com/blog/

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Reply By: Member - PhilD_NT - Wednesday, Mar 03, 2021 at 14:43

Wednesday, Mar 03, 2021 at 14:43
Announced today.
https://depws.nt.gov.au/parks-and-wildlife-commission/changes-to-our-parks/introduction
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Follow Up By: Member - PhilD_NT - Wednesday, Mar 03, 2021 at 14:46

Wednesday, Mar 03, 2021 at 14:46
From NTNews

TREKKERS, who want to walk the Jatbula Trail, the Larapinta Trail and the Tabletop Track, will pay $25 per night, up to a maximum of $125 for five or more nights.

However, under the new fee structures to begin from July 1, Territorians can still access walking trails for free if they are undertaking single day walks or runs.

A Parks Pass fee will be introduced for national and international visitors. As promised Territorians will be exempt from a fee to enter NT Parks for the day.

However new camping fees in Category A will jump from $6.60 per adult ($15.40 family) to $10 per adult ($25 a family). on July 1. Next financial year it will be $12 per adult ($30 a family). In 2023 the adult fee is $15 ($38 per family).

A category A campsite has moderate camping facilities that may include: showers; toilets; rubbish bins; picnic tables; cooking facilities or services barbecues; tap water.

Category B campsite fees see adults go from $3.30 to $4 from July 1 The family fee increases from $7.70 to $10. Next financial year adults pay $6 and a family $15. From July 1, 2023 adults will pay $10 and a family $25. Category B campgrounds have basic to moderate camping facilities that may include: toilets; picnic tables; barbecues; tap water.

Parks and Rangers Minister Selena Uibo said the revenue from fees that will flow to Traditional Owners will provide the opportunity to create jobs on-country and develop Aboriginal tourism.

“It is imperative we are able to care for, maintain and improve these areas and a user-pays fee will help to generate the funds required to modernise our parks,” she said.

Ms Uibo said the online booking system to be introduced will streamline bookings for camping and walking and ensure greater certainty for campers and multi-day trail walkers.

“It will also provide improved safety for our visitors as we will have better information about where our visitors are on our estate,“ she said.

NT PARK FEES
MULTI- DAY WALKING FEE:

$25 per night, up to a max of $125 for 5+ nights.

CAMPING Category A

1 July 2021 Adult $10, child $5, Family $25;

1 July 2022 Adult $12, Child $6, Family $30;

1 July 2023 Adult $15, Child $8, Family $38.

CAMPING: Category B

1 July 2021 Adult $4, Child $2, Family $10;

1 July 2022 Adult $6, Child $3, Family $15;

1 July 2023 Adult $10, Child $5, Family $25.
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Follow Up By: Member - John - Saturday, Mar 06, 2021 at 17:31

Saturday, Mar 06, 2021 at 17:31
"Parks and Rangers Minister Selena Uibo said the revenue from fees that will flow to Traditional Owners will provide the opportunity to create jobs on-country and develop Aboriginal tourism."

How will the government compensate the Traditional Owners when revenue drops due to p*ssed off people bypassing the parks?
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