Park fight hits Parliament

A MOUNT BARKER couple’s battle to curb the town’s free overnight motorhome stop in a bid to protect their caravan park business has now been considered by State Parliament.

On April 4, Shadow Tourism Minister Libby Mettam went in to bat for Steve and Shirley Smith who have owned the town’s caravan park for the past 11 years.

“Mt Barker caravan park has substantial support from the business community but the Smiths feel that their concerns about health and safety at the Shire site are unheeded and that they are suffering financially due to the Shire’s actions”, Ms Mettam told the Legislative Assembly.

“The Smiths support recreational vehicle–friendly camping as long as it does not include the Shire providing free sites.

“Shirley and Steve Smith have invested heavily in this caravan park and in the people they have employed.”

Ms Mettam said the issue of competition from free council-run facilities was not isolated to Mt Barker, but occurred elsewhere including Geraldton.

“Local governments are, in some cases, competing with small businesses, specifically in the tourism sector,” she said.

“Concerns have been raised regarding free camping sites that are in close proximity to operational or commercial caravan parks.

“The caravan industry is a $19 billion industry across Australia; it is of great value.”

Ms Mettam said the Smiths’ business was small and employed “a number of staff, pays council rates and complies with all of the health and safety regulations, but the local government is competing against it”.

She said the caravan park provided camping sites, powered sites, a dump point, showers, toilets, and was “well supported”.

She acknowledged the free Shire site provided “a lot of benefits”.

“We know that even though those free campers are not investing in a caravan park, they are certainly spending money in town and supporting other small businesses in that area,” she added.

“But we are seeing free camp sites supported and invested in by local governments, paid for by ratepayers, and competing directly with small businesses that have been operating in the vicinity for some time.”

Steve and Shirley Smith say the free Shire site is no good for business. Photo: Chris Thomson

While appreciating Ms Mettam’s help in raising the profile of his concerns, Mr Smith told The Voice of the South that people staying at Mt Barker’s free site did not spend much money locally.

“The Shire allows RVs and fully self-contained caravans to stay down there, but the level of containment that the Shire puts on it is a very low standard,” he said.

“Basically, if they’ve got a toilet, they’re okay.

“They don’t need a shower; they just need to contain their grey water and their black water.”

He said that many overnight occupants of the Shire park, located beside the Plantagenet District Hall on Memorial Drive, were not containing their water, and some used adjacent bushes as a toilet.

Plantagenet Shire President Chris Pavlovich said Shire rangers had not seen much evidence of bush-based ablutions.

Cr Pavlovich said that if there were no free site in Mount Barker, the town could lose valuable business from travellers who might move on to another town with free facilities.

Categories: Plantagenet, POLITICS

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68 replies »

  1. How on earth would he know how much travellers spend?
    Note: I have excised the second sentence of this comment for legal reasons. Chris Thomson, Editor

    • “Mr Smith told The Voice of the South that people staying at Mt Barker’s free site did not spend much money locally.”
      How would Mr Smith know that unless he conducted a proper survey with receipts from freedom campers??? He can’t know that.
      These are ignorant people. They do not have a clue!
      They need to spend some time and try to ATTRACT customers instead of trying to FORCE people to buy their product, because attempting to FORCE people to buy their product will not work. In fact, it can have the opposite affect.
      There is no competition between caravan parks and freedom camps! They are two different markets!
      If the freedom camp is closed there will be MANY businesses other than the caravan park that will miss out on trade! This has happened in other areas and the other businesses are upset about it. Legislation in support of one business, but which is against many businesses is an unwise decision.
      A large portion of freedom campers never stay in caravan parks!
      This is a caravan park we will never support!
      Edited slightly for legal reasons. Chris Thomson, Editor

      • After many pages of comment, mainly in favour, I am more concerned about the post of the parliamentarian fronting the Members in House with heavily biased ideals and without having had all the comments and suggestions as placed on here. I do believe all the problems get back to the NON-COMPLIANT users damaging the reputation of the majority. Maybe if Councils cannot afford their Rangers to operate of an evening they should talk to the local RV Clubs for volunteer supervisors.

    • We stayed at the freecamp recently, and were very glad of the opportunity to break a longer trip to shop in the town, and go out to dinner. We did a big grocery shop, and went to the bakery for lunch. We filled up with fuel, (a Landcruiser takes a heap of fuel) and had dinner at the hotel. A conservative estimate of our spend would be $400.00. Without the freecamp we would simply not have stayed.

      We do stay at caravan parks from time to time, and in fact had stayed at Kendenup Showgrounds a month earlier for nearly a week. Those facilities and prices were more aligned with our needs than the Mt Barker caravan park.

    • If the town has a caravan park, then it’s wrong to have a free camp in town. Closest should be 50 kms away. Parks might be able to keep prices a bit lower if they get the travelling support

      • On what premise are you making that comment? Travelling people are entitled to make a decision as to where they stay, forcing people to stay in caravan parks if they want to see that area will make them rethink their plans and not stop…It is the same as holding people to ransom

      • I feel that your comment is unjust because if there is no free Camp within walking distance of a town then I will rethink about going there not everyone has the means to pay for a caravan park and would even want to go to one in the first place. We have a rescue dog and is often frightened so caravan parks are not good for him. I also object to being packed in like sardines

      • What about if there are motels in the town then caravan parks shouldn’t be allowed to offer similar accommodations? Keep in mind that Motels lost a lot of business because of this. Whereas caravan parks lose no business from those that just want to free camp.

  2. Western Australia certainly has its fair share of people who want to herd everyone into their businesses, doesn’t it? Our family is rapidly losing interest in travelling there. We go to caravan parks 2 or 3 days out of a travelling week – can’t afford, don’t want to pay for things we don’t use and sick of being squashed up next to the next van.

    • How many cabins and chalets does this caravan park have? Do they care that they themselves are taking business from local hotel/motels?

      Caravan parks charge too much for the small amount of ammenties that most travellers are looking for, this is why they search out free camps in towns they want to visit.
      I’m all too happy to stay in caravan parks while in a town if the price is not ridiculous, and do my free camping while out on the road between towns etc.

      • The same is happening in other states, and has been for years. Numerous reports over the years, particularly from caravan parks in Queensland. Then look at the way the caravan parks association in Queensland was prepared to risk money on legal action to close down a caravan parking area.

  3. Mr & Mrs Caravan Park, you are offering serviced sites. People who go to free and unsupervised sites do not need or want these services. It is much like the cafe providing full meals, whereas the grocery store sells only the ingredients. In both cases, two different markets for two different types of customers.

    Spend your efforts promoting what you have to the people who want your services, as many do. Legislation will not bring you more customers, but will bring you ill will.

    • Motherhen, the issue with this [free] site is that there are no services on site. I frequent the site on a daily basis as it is also the school bus stop for my children. The majority of travellers using the site are not self contained; many are indeed self sufficient but can not contain the waste or have an onboard toilet. This site may well be an asset to the town if our shire and administration enforced a self-contained vehicle policy that ensured all waste from the accommodation was stored on board and disposed at the free shire-provided dump facility 500m down the road. Toilet facilities are a 700m walk from the site and I have seen people use the bushes to relieve themselves. Providing toilets on site is not a solution as those using the site are supposed to be self contained anyway. Those who will ultimately cause the closure of this site are not the caravan park owners but the so called freedom campers who can’t follow the rules! I will continue to petition the shire for this site to be either policed in a timely and appropriate manner with those who do not comply being moved on or close it down. It’s not just a free town camp, the site has other uses that are incompatible with this use

      • Greg. The site needs to be policed. If rules are set down, they need to be followed, and if not there should be penalties. The site is not policed enough if people arent abiding by the rules. So rather then someone walking around getting photos for evidence, throw a fine out to them. Simple

  4. RV’s parking in the free camp are not catered for at the local Caravan Park. Our Big Rig is-19 mtrs with a combination weight of 16 tonnes and has a 24 mtr turning circle. If not for the free camp at Mount Barker we would not have stopped or shopped in town, there are plenty of other towns with larger shopping precincts within a short distance.

    We recently stayed in an RV Park at $10 for site with access to toilet. $5 extra for power, and $5 extra for shower. Maybe Steve and Shirley could look at their business model and try to provide what the customer wants.

  5. The more park owners whinge about free camping the less custom they will get! Why are caravan park owners so protected by council? Maybe they need to look at their business model and adapt to the modern world of vanning.

  6. Perhaps the Smiths would get more customers if they had more realistic pricing. The Wikicamps listing for the site contains a comment that in March a customer was charged $73 per night for a powered site – that comprised $43 for the base site plus $15 for each of their 2 children. This extravagance is one of the reason these camp sites are frequently bypassed by RVers. But there are a heap of other non-financial reasons that include the greater space at free camps and better camaraderie among campers. People who value these sorts of things bypass over priced paid sites anyway so the Smiths would not enjoy their custom and neither will other businesses in the area. Interestingly Wikicamps contains no listing for a free camp in Mount Barker.
    Edited slightly for legal reasons. Chris Thomson, Editor

  7. Cr Pavlovich says might move on to another town, the reality is they WILL move on to another town so all of the other business miss out and the caravan park has no more customers than before anyway. They will probably have less as like us, many stay in both free camps and caravan parks, but we NEVER stay in parks that try to close the free parks down. We spend more time in parks than free camping. Caravan parks are often very hard to park in, and everyone is on top of everyone else, whereas it’s generally easy in a free camp or showgrounds.

  8. I am not interested in being forced to spend my money on being squeezed into a caravan park site, that often is so close I can hear the people next to me making their private noises.
    I do not want or need children’s playgrounds, showers and toilets, nor washing machines, that often have not had the filters cleaned as often as they should be.
    As a single traveller, I also will never stay at a park that does not offer me a singles rate.
    I have managed a caravan park, so I am conversant with the costs involved.
    and the park I was involved with always offered lower rates when the park needed visitors, often having very low rates just to have sites not sitting empty, and often as the word got around our occupancy drastically increased.
    Better to have full sites rather than an empty sad looking caravan park!

  9. What happened to choices and freedom in Australia? We will not stay in a caravan park (or town for that matter), that tells us where we can and cant stay and neither will a lot of other people. This will kill Mount Barker if they win. People want choices. Another thing, if the rules have been set at a free camp by the council, then someone needs to police it and there would be virtually no problems with campers mistreating the camp.
    I excised the final sentence of this comment for legal reasons. Chris Thomson, Editor

  10. We stayed in that free camp. On a couple of other nights we drove out of town and camped at a free site beside the road. We had a meal at the pub, used the laundromat, bought pies at the bakery, and other groceries.
    Not once did we consider using the caravan park. We are fully self contained.

    On another occasion, in another town, we had planned to use a free camp but it was raining heavily so we used the caravan park.

  11. We travel extensively in our fully self contained van. We have been to many towns around Australia surviving because of their RV friendly cheap or free caravan/camping sites. A town is very short sighted if they think we do not spend money in town. Where do they think we buy our fuel, food, medications, clothes, tyres, spare parts etc???? There are always the people out there who always stay in CPs and others that do occasionally, they certainly have their place in the community. However there are many of us who will bypass a town because there is no cheap camping. Then the whole town misses out. Why do caravan parks think they are the only people in the town that are missing out? When are caravan park owners going to wake up and realise there are many of us out there that don’t want or need all their facilities and be packed in like sardines.
    Have they thought of the motels and hotels that have lost business because they keep squashing more chalets in? I don’t think so.
    There are always people wanting to stay in caravan parks no matter if there is an RV area or not. We simply cannot afford their fees to stay in one every night and there are plenty of caravaners that can’t.

  12. We have stayed at Mt Barker many times and always do our shopping there and usually fuel up. The pub meal is excellant as are the Bakery pies. The reason we stay there is because of the free camp and the fact that Albany stopped free camps after they held the CMCA rally. Albany was rv friendly but not any more. Caravan parks are out of touch with what traveling seniors need and should not be protected. Parks and towns that complain about free or cheap camps will not see us again. Kulin is an example of a well run town. Talk to them.

  13. We just spent over $200 with another couple at the pub and local store next morning when we stayed at the free camp a few days ago. I think the local businesses should have a collection point for receipts spent by us to indicate how much other businesses receive. If we stayed at the caravan park we would not have spent that money.
    As far as I am concerned, they will be bypassed if they stop the free camping.
    It was intetesting that the local ranger was on our doorstep but was very polite. I feel he knew we were fine but had to be seen to be doing the right thing. The caravan park industry needs to move with the times like other industries (Uber, Airbnb etc) otherwise they will die. Have the council banned the cabins as they are in direct competition to the pubs and motels … No. Go figure and as a point I will now not stay at that caravan park which i occasionally do (stay at caravan parks) on our trips.

  14. If the caravan park thinks they will get more customers closing the free camp they are in for a rude shock. The people in the free camp were never going to be your customers, concentrate on making your park more attractive to those that stay in parks not whinging about those that never will.

  15. When you free camp you have funds to spend at a variety of stores in town, thus spreading the money around, so more businesses benefit from the traveller.
    When paying for the caravan park, just to park your vehicle for a few hours’ sleep, you get nothing but a glorified parking space, in the case of a lot of travellers, myself included.
    If I can’t park and sleep for free, then I will be travelling onto the next town that wants my limited funds, because when I arrive/leave/stay, I will do all my shopping, and touristy things there.
    Caravan park owners don’t care about the rest of the town, they only care about THEMSELVES.

  16. Public (council supplied) BBQ and picnic table should be removed, taking business away from cafes, bakeries, McDonald’s etc.
    Public toilets also attracting people away from business who have these.

  17. Protectionism is just wrong. Lack of a variety of services and competition means a lowering of standsrds. Government is becoming dictatorial and too controlling.

  18. A lot of us are on pension and have saved for mths to travel, pay fuel, pay rates where we live payed taxes all our life and you won’t let us freedom camp. Come on, we still buy food. fuel on road. Support local towns but I do not want to be put in caravan park. I need my space.

  19. The issue here is not about taking business away from caravan parks, or spending money in town, or not stopping unless you can get a free site; it’s about camping in appropriate places that are designated by councils who are managing and planning the towns and roadsides around our beautiful country. Unless a site has been dedicated to overnight staying it is not appropriate to stop there. There have been rest areas established all over the country for years but with the increase in RV activity, and the different mindset of those campers it seems many want to be in town and “glamping” on the verge of residential areas, in our recreation parks and picnic areas, in the car parks of our shopping centres!! This is a serious issue for councils and it’s time they addressed the need for organised overnight stay sites close to town and managed them.

  20. We are long term caravanners, and rarely stay in caravan parks. The reason is that we can’t afford them and we don’t like the lifestyle they offer. So, we camp at free/low cost place and spend our money in that town, for food, fuel, drinks, coffee etc. If the town has no free/low cost area, we move on and spend our money in the next town that does. So this narrow minded selfishness only hurts the other business in that town. Simple.

  21. So will you support all the businesses that will lose out on money once free camping has been stoped? You force people to stay at your site. Will mean 1 of 2 things. They ether bypass your town or will not have the money to spend in your town! Ether way your town will miss out on a lot of income.
    To be fair, the caravan park owners have no power to force anybody to stay anywhere. Chris Thomson, Editor

  22. Every time I see these type “woe is me” type articles I cringe when when we know for a FACT the research, being done by the industry itself, shows that the industry is experiencing boom times. Record numbers of new rigs being built, record caravan and camp ground visitor nights, record camping international visitors, all reported and punished by the Caravan Industry Association of Australia. If this were not so why would our superannuation funds, motoring bodies and major industry leaders be buying up and developing caravan parks. The sad part is, as in this case, politicians take these arguments in to parliament without a true understanding of what is actually happening. This is not about one particular park’s complaint, this is about the growing pie of RV tourism and everybody involved adjusting to the changing trends and all sharing a bigger slice of the pie. RV Tourism is not about how much gets spent in a caravan park, it’s about how much it generates to the whole community locally and Australia wide. The days of caravaners dragging out the van for three weeks and visiting a caravan park are gone, and now we talk about weeks, months or years on the road travelling from town to town. Smart communities are realising that and providing options for a whole cross section of the new generation self contained vehicle. That is what this community must do if it wants a bigger share of the tourism pie and the caravan park will get its share of that based on providing what the consumer wants, not government protection by trying to restrict perceived opposition.

    • …and Arthur the RV community should also be responsible and not stay in inappropriate places in and close to towns where picnic areas and parks are developed for the whole community to enjoy, not for RVers to camp in and clog up to the restriction of everyone else.

      • Fane, What is considered appropriate and inappropriate sites is a matter for local councils, not businesses like caravan parks. Articles like this which go viral on social media, particularly when statements are less than factual do not do the town or the particular caravan park any good. The RV tourist is very mobile with an enormous grapevine. You will get no argument from me re them doing “ the right thing”
        Hey, Arthur. Don’t shoot the messenger. This is a fair, balanced, accurate and multi-faceted story, built up from statements made by a Parliamentarian in a State Parliament. As such, it has done its bit to increase debate on what, quite obviously, is a touchy topic. I have published all comments, for and against, deleting elements only where they have carried potentially defamatory imputations, or unsubstantiated commentary of a personal nature about people who co-operated in the production of the story. Chris Thomson, Editor

  23. I stayed at this park years ago … We vowed to never go back.
    If they need the odd van that stays in the free camp they should re-evaluate their business van, and why they are really missing out.
    Edited slightly for legal reasons. Chris Thomson, Editor

  24. I bet the caravan park owners had no consideration for local hotels and motels when they installed cabins in the CARAVAN park … If your bussiness model isnt working dont blame everyone else , YOU need to change.
    Edited slightly for legal reasons. Let’s play the issue, not the person, people. And let’s keep things respectful. Chris Thomson, Editor

  25. Another Caravan Park owner beating his drum about how hard done by he is.
    If they put as much energy into promoting themselves and support the rest of the community he may be surprised at the benifits, but no they are self centred.
    Every other business employs local staff, so what is different with his business

  26. I wonder if the Smiths considered the hotels or motels in their area each time they added a new cabin? My guess ‘not’.
    Edited down. I remind contributors that unsubstantiated commentary about individuals will not get a run here. Let’s elevate the discussion, folks. Chris Thomson, Editor

  27. I totally agree with all of the above comments, I like Mount Barker but we would not stay at the caravan park any way so if the free camp was not there we would just drive through. We are currently at a town oval in countryside NSW who offers 48 hours to self contained rigs and we have spent money in this little town. We are CMCA members and look for these places where we can as by not staying in caravan parks allows us to spend more money at small businesses in these towns

  28. The issue could be more to do with the Park franchises. Yes people with children are being asked for more money… the play areas have been built for them after many years of campaigning by parents… if they no longer want amusements for children then tell the franchises to turn them into camp areas. The franchises were started because of a need .. if that need is not required then get rid of them. Also I feel that any free camping within a towns limits should be no more than 24 hours .. and I don’t really see a need for it to be totally free .. Parking metres maybe.

  29. I stay at both free/low cost camps and caravan parks but it needs to be my choice. I have a fully self contained motorhome and even when I do stay at a caravan park I use my own facilities so I am always reluctant to pay for stuff I do not use such as amenities, pools, camp kitchens etc. I also am a solo traveler so I get the double whammy of paying for two and paying for stuff I do not use. I want to choose when I use either type of camp not be told by a business that I must use theirs or nothing. I am a potential customer at some stage but it is the luck of the draw whether it is tonight or tomorrow etc that I go to a park. You get my custom eventually but not if you force me. Caravan parks seem to always bring out the non compliant campground cry compared to a caravan park but I can assure you there are quite a few caravan parks around that are non compliant. A couple of days ago I dropped over $200 into an RV Friendly towns various businesses as a solo and I doubt that town would have received it otherwise had they not provided a free camp (this one right in town). Yes there are bad eggs in all walks of life including the freedom camper who seem not to be able to read signs but the good guys should not be penalised – there does need to be some sort of “policing” of sites – word soon gets around the RV land.

  30. we stayed twice at the Mt Barker free site. the highlight was the midnight train. we spent money, bought fuel and food. used the public dump point and toilets. pity we won’t be back. we also pay rates to our local council and would like to think that ratepayers of Mt Barker are welcome to stay in our local council area.

  31. How much of this is ‘protecting’ their own interests vs ‘caring about the community’?
    If the whole town & businesses felt like they do then the council would be in favour of the CP, surely?
    The fact it has gone this far legally rings to me that the local business people don’t want to bite the hand that feeds them (free camping tourists).
    Some serious feathering of nest happening here.

  32. The problem with small business owners these days is that they simply do not know how to run a small business.

    You are shooting yourselves in the foot and quite possibly you are too stupid to realise it. Many, I said again MANY caravanners are now travelling full time. It is not just grey nomads anymore, it’s couples and families as well. I happen to be one of them.

    Many of us don’t want to spend our lives full time in your caravan parks, packed in like sardines and paying over inflated prices for things we don’t want or need. Many will come and stay to catch up on washing, have some luxury for a few nights and then move on.

    What you’re now doing is telling people they have no right to free camp because your council is paying for that free camp. Now you’re pushing people out of your town altogether – if they can’t free camp they won’t be around to support your local businesses. (You know they pay rates too right??). But guess what? They aren’t going to stay at your park either!

    Now is the time for caravan park owners to wise up and evolve to meet their customer needs in terms of services needed vs the tariffs people pay. If these owners think they are going to win the battle, I’ll bet my caravan they’re going lose the war.

  33. Will not stay at Mt Barker van park ,not that we do much (90%) free camping .
    Do spend lots money in towns that have free camping.

  34. These caravan park owners have been stupid enough to pay through the nose for a caravan park and expect the world NOT to change!
    The expectation that people should be forced to use their caravan park is a joke!

  35. Chris Thomson, I was not being critical of your papers article, just commenting on the previous post “the RV community should also be responsible and not stay in inappropriate places in and close to towns etc etc”. There was an inference that the RV community was irresponsible because they were parking in what is I believe a council approved overnight stop. I have a little to do with with an RV Park in my home town, which was very anti RV in the past, but the whole region is now embracing RV Tourism and we have many caravan parks in the region. The benefit to the region has been very obvious and I enclose a link for your reference. Yes we went through the same opposition as your town is experiencing but commonsense eventually prevailed and now everyone is benefiting either directly or indirectly, even the caravan parks. I’m just saying towns need to be careful they don’t shot themselves in the foot.

  36. Stopped at Mt Barker CP in 2013 and I must say that the reception we received was less than welcoming. Your too early, don’t do this, don’t do that.

    Would never stop there again.

    • Heard these type of comments as well. To think we nearly ended up living there permanently. Scary! I do think the Smiths have done themselves an injustice by trying to enforce us all to stay at their caravan park.
      To be fair, the caravan park owners have no power to force anybody to stay anywhere. Chris Thomson, Editor

      • True, they don’t but they are the ones pushing this debate thus the very real perception that is now evident. If you look at other towns accross oz that are changing with the times the towns as a whole are benefiting. Glen innes on the new england hwy nsw a case in point.
        W.A has large distances and if you want tourists to come or stay longer one has to think outside the square as does councils and state and also caravan park owners have to be wise to the changing needs of the community as does every other buisseness or suffer . Customer service also includes recognising the changing needs and adapting.

  37. If you have invested or set up a fully contained van or motorhome, most likely it’s for the simple reason that you DON’T want to stay at caravan parks and dont need their facilities.
    If a town doesn’t have a suitable free camp site we continue till one that does and that’s where we will stop and spend our money…. give back to the community that supports us. ..
    Plain and simple!

  38. We have just returned from 2 months in Tasmania. After paying fuel for several thousand kilometres of travel and a fare on the Spirit Ferry we could not have travelled there without the knowledge that there is a lot of free or low cost camping as well as caravan parks. The support that many small towns get from tourists keeps the shops open in their town. We can’t expect out of state travellers to bring their tourist dollar to WA if we can’t offer the same choice. From listening to fellow travellers I believe that Albany has lost a lot of traveller dollars by shorter stays due to choice of camping styles, people travel to places that offer a choice of accommodation and free or low cost is important for many. Police the self containment of vehicles but don’t stop the choice of camping places which will spoil the chance of other businesses in town getting the spend of tourist dollars by having travellers passing by on the way to another town.

  39. Why is it that caravan park owners feel they have the right to force people to their business, the other local business people cannot do this, I feel sure the local butcher would love to be able to stop people buying from Woolworths, Coles or the likes, no one takes up his battle, what about the local fuel station, he doesn’t go running to government to stop you buying at a station that offers a 4 cent discount because you buy groceries at a specific store because you are stoping in their town. Wake up to reality, no doubt there is little evidence of a free camp area bringing wanted revenue into the town, you are only 50 kilometres from Albany. Yes people will wait to stock up or have just stocked up. If there is the slightest chance that people will spend money in town, the council should take it and ensure that the spoils are divided equally among all business outlets not just your park. Many grey nomads are on a very strict budget and if they are forced to use large portions of it for just a piece of ground for the nibht, they will not be buying the other things your town supplies.
    As a shire resident I am very much in favour of a free camp in proximity of the town.

  40. Is this the same caravan park that backs onto sensitive wetlands that are home to flora and fauna habitat? … Probably doesn’t need parliament, just the Greens.
    Note, I have excised the middle part of this comment for legal reasons. Consequently, much of the context has gone. Chris Thomson, Editor.

  41. I for one will NEVER book in to the Mt Barker Caravan Park as only a few years ago I tried to book in for a Friday night and Saturday night and asked how could I access my site on arrival from Perth as we wouldn’t be able to leave Perth until around 5 or 6pm. I was very quickly told that if we couldn’t be there by 6pm (from memory) then sorry but not able to help. So we left our van home and stayed at local Motel when we finally arrived in town that evening. The Motel had arranged for the room to be open for me and keys inside. Not a great ad for the caravan park. If they can’t “service” then they should stop whinging. I tell anyone I know that is headed Mt Barker way of this.

  42. I’ve been following the stories related to the free camp and town in question. One minute it’s the travellers passing through town at fault, there for a petition to close the site has started. The next minute it’s a business owner who wants it closed because it is harming their business. What is really going on here? Is it the travellers or a disgruntled business owner forcing the camp to close?
    It will be a negative thing for all businesses if it closes. Ask the travellers.
    When I worked in retail, the motto was “the customer is always right”. It doesn’t apply to this business owner. They will lose customers.
    Good luck to the council who are trying to do the right thing.

  43. Actually part of the problem in WA is the whole caravan park/camping laws. WA is an expensive state to visit, it simply is a long way from the bulk of the RV community and when you have draconian laws [such as not being allowed to camp on your own property for more than three days] it is a wonder why anybody visits. The State needs to really get with the times and the changing trends and this particular issue is just one symptom of the overall problem.

  44. on a single pension, simply cant afford the exorbitant prices for somewhere to park every night and still eat or buy fuel, fact of life, and paying for 2 people when im on my own, then cp operators want 8,10, or sometimes 15 dollars for a child ?? they dont take up any more room maybe a little water so become prohibitive if u may have 3 or so kiddies, also i dont want use of swings or jumping pillows or even amenities ive got my own so yer travelling public may not require these services only somewhere to park.

  45. If their business model isn’t providing the return on investment they’re looking for, they need to consider a number of factors – the main two in this case would seem to be providing a product to meet the needs and wants of their customers and secondly the pricing. They may have invested heavily in their business but we too have invested heavily in our mobile homes. We did so to enable independent travelling options with the freedom to choose where we live – not be sandwiched in like sardines, or forced to stay in places we don’t want to, or forced to pay for what we don’t need.

    In terms of the free camp taking away their business, they need to recognise that the people staying in the freedom camping areas were likely never going to be their customers because their product doesn’t match the needs of these potential customers.

    Furthermore, competition is a good thing, if they wish to grow their customer base, provide better value and a better product. Heaven forbid what BigW, Bunnings, KMART, BCF and a multitude of other stores must say about Amazon and EBay!! And on that note, the parliamentarian whose mind has been filled with biased opinions, may need to decide which pub, service station or supermarket is going to stay in every town and which ones are going to be forced to shutdown because the principle is the same!

    No matter whether the free camp area under discussion is shut down or not, the result will likely have little or no effect on the caravan park as has proven to be the case in many places around the country previously. Sadly there will still be the ignorant few who will do the wrong thing and pollute open spaces. It seems that the best solution in this instance would be better policing of the public site.

  46. This complaint and opinions sounds like a broken record. It keeps repeating itself all around Australia. Why – because park owners have invested big dollars to provide a facility that is fast becoming redundant to a certain degree because the “Nomads” or RV’ers have evolved from the old plywood caravan to the new you beaut self contained travelling rig. This started too change maybe 10 years ago and parks have not tried to update their services and provide specific services to meet this new market. When time passes you by – don’t whinge – Get with the program or retire.

  47. Under the constitution we have a right to be free, this is just greed and going down the road that you can only stay in a town if you have money. This is becoming dangerous and going down the road of dictatorship. You are pathetic people and unAustralian
    Smiths……Councils are a 3rd party Government in the constitution 1901 there is only 2 so you wont be telling me where i can put my head down to sleep
    A Constitutional right to freedom? That’s a newy to me. Section? Or is it in the overall vibe of the document? Chris Thomson, Editor

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