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Queensland caravan parks battle free camping as national challenges bear down 

November 29, 2006

By Garth Morrison Editor GoSeeAustralia

Concerns about free camping got plenty of air time at the Caravan Parks Association of Queensland Conference in Brisbane last week.

It is a national concern for caravan parks throughout Australia, but although there are no real statistics Queensland probably faces the biggest challenge with more than a hundred caravans in some rest areas.

GoSeeAustralia met an estimated 100 caravans in a rest area at Calliope, 25km south of Gladstone on a recent editorial tour. The caravans and their owners had been there a few days in an area not set-up for so many people.

It is a certain sign that CPAQ and the caravan industry in Australiais once again in times of challenge and change.

About80 delegates from 49 Queensland caravan parks at the CPAQ conference at Brisbane's Royal on the Park heard some councils encourage the situation.

But othersmanoeuvre to keep free camping alive as they say it is good for local businesses.

The delegates also heard in general discussion that Queensland caravan parks face many challenges.

They includedealing with land tax issues, the current Government attitudes to caravan parks, legal matters, the need for betteranalysis, commitment to caravan and camping shows and support for the national industry marketing arm CRVA . CRVA President Garry Bushell told the CPAQ delegates and GoSeeAustralia that the $250,000 government funded Safari Trails pilot program was not something CRVA wanted to run as an association and discussions are now being held with an automobile association.

TV and national magazine advertising continue as the main CRVA marketing tools. He said $45,000 hasbeen earmarked to restructure the CRVA web site.

All mobiles will be turned off or they disappear for three  months
All mobiles will be turned off or they disappear for three months

The Caravan Parks Association of Queensland has 416 members and 113 associate members and
as usual it is the committedassociationmembers who will fund the future for the caravan park industry in Queensland.

John Dobosz of White Rock Caravan Park, near Cairns, told GoSeeAustralia today that free camping for often60-80 plus campers was not policed by councils for health or safety considerations.

I don't think one to two days is an issue, he said. But the Tablelands and around Cairns seem to get most of them and near Mareeba there is a place next to a creek with one toilet and shower where caravans stay for weeks in the peak season.

We approach councils and they argue it brings more business to the towns. But does it?

I think the councils are kidding themselves, he said

Grey Nomads stock up in the city. They don't fill up ina country place like Mareeba. They arenot going to pay $1.50 a litre forfuel or pay the higher local grocery prices.

We don't mind travellers stopping to have a rest, fine, but don't stop in a rest area and free camp for a week, John Dobosz said. It stops caravan parks from earning a living and what about the Health and Safety issues involved if somebody gets hurt and sues a council? he said.

During the recentGoSeeAustralia tour in Queensland with the company Heritage caravan we found another rest area heavily patronised by many caravans. The rest area is only about 2km from central Maryborough.

A big tick and a happy stamp from ContACT GoSeeAustralia
A big tick and a happy stamp from ContACT GoSeeAustralia

Despite the real concerns CPAQ is struggling to make headwayto meet the challenge of free camping and rest areas in Queensland. This is a position they share nationally with caravan parks and Recreational Vehicle industry bodies in meetings with councils and government departments.

GoSeeAustralia believes that higher fuel costs this year may be the reason travellersare using thefree rest areas to balance their touring budgets. Thiscouldmean more unoccupied sites in Queensland's caravan parks.

CPAQ delegates were told in general discussion that Government refusal to include the requirement to be built to the building code in the defination of a manufactured home is a deep concern for Queensland caravan park owners and managers who may wish to sell their caravan park in the future.

They heard thata Tribunal and District Court findings that a 'Squareline' is a manufactured home meansa normal touring caravan with a rigid annexe may now be considered to be a manufactured home under the Act and is entitled to be given a perpetual base.

Editors Note: A 'Squareliner' is usually a big caravan up to 28 ft. GoSeeAustralia understands they were built to be placed on a caravan park site rather than designed as a touring caravan.

Answer the questions and you get a stamp
Answer the questions and you get a stamp

The Caravan Parks Associationof Queensland direction is common to caravan park and industry associations throughout Australia in meeting obstacles and damaging regulations that continue to confront the caravan park industry in Australia.

This isan attitude shared by SA parks President Richard Davis who also urged his members to look for solutions to the free camping challenge at the SA Parks Conference in Victor Harbor earlier inAugust thisyear.

Roadside camping is seen as something to approach with a positive in South Australia.

SA Parks President, Richard Davis says that park owners should look for solutions which attracted free campers to parks facilities by offering options which appeal.

SA Parks is talking to councils on the subject seeking their attitudes and direction. Continuing the caravan park owners concerns with accommodation standards nationally SA Caravan Parks Association Vice President, Ron Shattock, told the AugustSA Annual General meeting at McCracken Resort,Victor Harbor that there were concerns about the value of star rating of accommodation to produce a common standard across Australias states and territories.

Work needs to be put into (point) criteria items and it is not only caravan parks but hotels and motels who are concerned, he said.

Editors Note: It should be understood in relation to free campingthat nationally caravan park owners have no problem with the traveller who camps out of town but find it a bit hard to swallow when free facilities are provided by councils in direct competition with their caravanparks which are rate paying businesses.

Don and Alison and Peter and Gayle. They just cant stay away from CPAQ conferences
Don and Alison and Peter and Gayle. They just cant stay away from CPAQ conferences

AfterMonday March 20, 2006 Cyclone Larry and subsequent flooding rains in many parts of North Queensland made it tougher to sell Queensland as a holiday destination.

But in response CPAQassisted some of the affected caravan parks to attend the Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane Caravan Shows to tell travellers the North is open for business.

Fuel prices rose to the point where some travellers did not travel as far north as usual.

But many caravan parks in the southern half of Queensland saw the opportunity and had solid booking through the winter.

As corporates continue to acquire many Queensland caravan parks CPAQ President Harry Kastrissios toldthe Brisbane conference delegatesin open discussionthat there is a need to encourage the new corporate caravan park owners to become active in the association to maintain the strength and representation of CPAQ.

The Queensland Government has not followed thelead of the Victorian and South Australian Governments who moved to address the Land Tax problem as it impacted on caravan parks but during the CPAQ conference there were some indications from the CPAQ executive that the minister was listening.

Tonnes of trees to shift after Cyclone Larry
Tonnes of trees to shift after Cyclone Larry

We also include some before and after Larry shots taken by Googarra Caravan Park Tully Heads.

Googarra Beach Van Park has 65 tourist sites of which 60 are powered. The park has excellent amenities including a well stocked supermarket. The park is in a quiet area and the staff are friendly and helpful.

A number of modern cabins are available for rent. Internet facilities are available in the supermarket.

John Dobosz's White Rock Caravan Park is set in a meticulously maintained tropical corner of Cairns.

Camping or caravanning White Rock has ample powered and unpowered sites available, grassy sites, sites with slabs and most are shady.

The modern air conditioned cabins are situated amongst lush tropical gardens and come fully self contained. The facilities include ensuite, air conditioning, T.V., microwave oven and cooking facilities, linen is provided.

Danella the Free Spirit always has fun with a big barbecue
Danella the Free Spirit always has fun with a big barbecue
Graham Wallace with GoSeeAustralia advertising package prize winner Patricia of White Rock Tourist Park
Graham Wallace with GoSeeAustralia advertising package prize winner Patricia of White Rock Tourist Park in Rotorua New Zealand

Please mention GoSeeAustralia when you call!

Patricia and John Dobosz won the $990 GoSeeAustralia advertising package Level 6 enhancement for 12 months and they took advantage of GoSeeAustralia's mapping facility at the International FPA Conference in New Zealand.

The friendly FPA Chain held its annual conference in Rotorua. GoSeeAustralias Managing Director Graham Wallace and partner Michele joined the conference and spent three weeks in Septembergathering information for a new venture -a GoSeeNewZealand website.

Editor's Note also see:





GoSeeAustralia compiled these snapshots at the Caravan Parks Association of Queensland Conference at Brisbane's Royal on the Park.

Booking systems can be fun according to Big Al Ricketts
Booking systems can be fun according to Big Al Ricketts
Clean and green Googarra now
Clean and green Googarra now
Googarra pool shed after cyclone Larry
Googarra pool shed after cyclone Larry
Refurbished Googarra bar and cafe
Refurbished Googarra bar and cafe
Happiness is mutual for Marcus and Amanda on the AAA Tourism stand
Happiness is mutual for Marcus and Amanda on the AAA Tourism stand
Hey Ron I think we got that right
Hey Ron I think we got that right

Googarra Bar and cafe after Larry hit
Googarra Bar and cafe after Larry hit
Googarra pool shed area now
Googarra pool shed area now
Howard the man from Sleepyhead tells great bedtime stories
Howard the man from Sleepyhead tells great bedtime stories
Its Ken Illich The  man from  Cosmo Cabins - s
Its Ken Illich The man from Cosmo Cabins
Neil is excited about Auscape cabins
Neil is excited about Auscape cabins
Now the question is Tony how many Powerheads can you make in a week
Now the question is Tony how many Powerheads can you make in a week
What is the Pie Guy so interested in wireless internet
What is the Pie Guy so interested in wireless internet
Yes Dianne Niel has a cabin for you
Yes Dianne Niel has a cabin for you
Yes it will all come out in the wash at Qparks
Yes it will all come out in the wash
Yes Jayne we  have powerheads for all occasions at Qparks
Yes Jayne we have powerheads for all occasions

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