'$23.20 a day to live on' – pensioner Grey Nomads say they are priced out of caravan parks 

September 15, 2016
'$23.20 a day to live on' – pensioner Grey Nomads say they are priced out of caravan parks

Originally published: 15/01/2013 - facts and figures in this article may have changed since it was first published.


With only a joint pension to live on, a fixed income couple cannot afford to stay at a caravan park for too long – it has to be a few days here and there or a discounted week long stay during off-peak periods.

This insight into the management of Core Road Tourism is part of the Australasian Touring Caravan, Motorhome & Camping Club Inc. submission to the draft Queensland Drive Tourism Strategy. Terry Boyce, Public Relations and Special Projects Officer says the club is an Australia-wide caravan club with members in New Zealand.

GoSee staff have long-term practical experience in road touring in all its forms on a tight budget.

GoSee believes if a person or even a couple's income was solely the aged pension, travelling long distances would be out of the question, because of the cost of fuel for a start. If they also had a home to maintain, this would make it even harder, because utilities and rates still have to be paid.

Even short stays of a week or so will add up to more than their income.

For example, when travelling the cost of food and laundry are up because travellers do not have the fridge and storage capacity to buy in bulk as they would at home.

GoSee believes that older people, and others who are vulnerable, generally do not feel safe camping in free camp areas with no security, given the spate of violence against 'soft targets'.

GoSee believes that older people travelling need secure caravan parks – without the bells and whistles – with clean amenities at a reasonable cost.

This is a difficult business model for caravan parks because of land tax and overhead issues most particularly in popular tourist areas. Also, there is a cost to the caravan park when Recreational Vehicle owners want to use the dump point, fill up with water, and charge electrical equipment. This is compounded when the camping RV's cooling and heating equipment makes high demands on the caravan park's electricity supply.

The Queensland Drive Tourism Strategy is just one of many attempts to funnel consumers into caravan parks, the ATCMCC says.

Roadside rest areas are the infrastructure consumers most want, followed by clean toilets of any type. The majority of consumers will not travel if the rest area is not available as shown by the draft.

Queenslanders have found that out the hard way as consumers are not travelling to their State, the ATCMCC says.

The club agrees that commercial caravan parks play an important role as accommodation providers and contributors to the economy. But there is a rider the ATCMCC says:

"So do hotels, motels, guesthouses, B&B, national parks and the most important of all are the free rest areas", the Club says.

"Without these low or minimum cost stopping places the Grey Nomads cannot survive", the club says.

"Spending $40 per night or more in a private caravan park is not viable for the majority of Grey Nomads, who are on the Federal Government Age Pension", the ATCMCC says.

Editor's Note: In and near Cairns powered sites (15.01.2013) range from $28 to $43 a double per night. Some parks offer discounts. In one park 4 nights minimum applies to all accommodation at peak periods. Figures may have changed since this article was first published.

At another, the weekly rate is $186, saving $31 on seven nights.

The Federal Government Age Pension figures at September 2012:

  • Couple combined with a house per fortnight is $1164.80.

Divide by 14 and the result is $83.20 per day to live and travel on. Take $40 out for accommodation and the travelling couple are left with $43.20 per day. Let's say they spend $20 on fuel, then they are left with $23.20 to live on for food, and other personal needs, the ATCMCC says.

"Where government has put rules and regulations that preclude consumers from regional towns by closing down facilities and imposing fines consumers do not go, they just bypass the town", ATCMCC says.

"What we the consumer want is to visit Queensland. I am writing about the majority of Grey Nomads consumers and long haul consumers that travel the length and breadth of the state to see all the magnificent places that Queensland has to offer", Terry Boyce, Public Relations and Special Projects Officer says.

"We do not want caravan parks with jumping castles, and playgrounds. All we require is power, water, laundry, sullage and dump points and clean amenities and if possible a basic camp kitchen", he said.

Editor's Note: Queensland Drive Tourism Strategy

The Queensland Drive Tourism Strategy 2013-2015 has been developed in consultation with industry to help strengthen the state;s economy and provide a foundation to grow drive tourism in the state.

Drive tourism is:

  • an important market for Queensland;

  • vital for regional destinations; and

  • a priority of the Queensland Government.


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