By Garth Morrison Editor GoSeeAustralia and GoSeeNewZealand
Free is the wrong word when it is used in the context of camping in Australia and New Zealand.
There is no such thing as free camping. Inevitably somebody or the environment; or often both pay.
Illegal camping is also a misnomer. It is no more than a sensationalising lure to dangle before media who are often niave about the politics which permeate caravanning and camping industry issues in Australia and New Zealand. It is perfectly possible to camp responsibly throughout both countries.
But unless the authority charged with enforcing the law (often councils) is prepared to follow through with prosecuting local laws claims of illegal camping are just hot air.
GoSee thinks a blind eye is often the preferred alternative for budget stressed authorities.
There is already a big following for commitment to responsible camping in both Australia and New Zealand.
This reflects in the Leave No Trace program of the CMCA (membership 66,000).
The NZMCA (50 years) has a similar program and more than 43,000 members (2013).
Industry, the CMCA, NZMCA, CIAVic and members of CRVA (now Caravan Industry Association of Australia)says there is increasing interest from many buyers in self-contained RVs. Unfortunately this is an impression from industry sources rather than statistics.
GoSee thinks the major stakeholders in the right to camp responsibly, parks, industry and travellers want the same thing.
Budget GoSee campsite Wayatinah on route to Tassie West Coast
Specifically that is the right to keep the enjoyment of road touring viable for all concerned.
If this essential tourism option is not protected then travellers and the industry are the losers.
Australia's biggest builder of Recreational Vehicles (Jayco) services an idealised camping world. It sells its RV's in New Zealand too using a similar message.
Jayco's marketing message sells affordable escape, adventure, natural beauty, family, couples, togetherness, easy use and independence as evocative, persausive calls to action.
The focus is not on specific caravan/holiday/tourist parks as Jayco works around a freedom experience for its diverse target market. But the Jayco message certainly benefits caravan parks and road touring by direct association.
Your correspondent believes restriction of the freedom camping concept is unlikely to grow sales of RV units and it certainly won't help caravan/holiday/tourist parks. Obviously customers are essential to the caravan/holiday/tourist parks bottom line too.
If revenue from road tourism falls the result is hardly a victory for the ANZACs on the illegal camping battlefield.
A clear threat in both Australia and New Zealandis some authorities may boost revenue through zealously applying the law, but that can hardly be seen as good for Australia and New Zealand's budget bottom lines. Nor will it promote road tourism.
Unfortunately caravan/holiday/tourist parks are now out of financial reach for many core travellers (Grey Nomads) on fixed incomes as a seven-day a week accommodation option. This particularly applies in peak holiday periods.
Many core travellers on pensions cannot afford extended stays inparks. Also many core travellers who supplement their pensions with superannuation earnings fall short too. They cannot afford an extended experience, particularly in resort-style parks in peak periods.
This is common among older travellers who once thought their superanuation would provide an honorable,independent,comfortable security after a lifetime of working, paying taxes and contributing to the national economy.
Unfortunately that is not what is happening now. GoSee hasno hesitation in blaming apathy and mismanagement across a succession of governments. In Australia this involves a period of 50 years in your correspendents experience.
Take a seat anywhere
The spirited, sauve, legendary cashed-up Grey Nomad has become a pale ghost.
Which begs the question do caravan parks really see this aging Core Group as a worthwhile, long-term revenue stream they want to attract to their business?
GoSee suggests that this long-term traveller Core Group is really an off-season potboiler for parks in the valleys between the holiday seasonal peaks.
This GoSee Information Article produced some insights and outcomes on the subject of Low Cost No Frills Camping accommodation-
(4 Oct 2012)
- The story did not attract many readers. (896 since October 2012).
- Lake Sambell's $5 per person a night camping asks that campers are CMCA members, fully self-contained, and Leave No Trace certified by CMCA.
- Take-up on the Beechworth Lake Sambell Caravan Park, CMCA $5 unpowered offer is poor.
- Most CMCA members who visit opt for Lake Sambell's more expensive powered sites. The Beechworth Lake Sambell Caravan Park tarrif range for powered sites is $29 to $ 42 a double per night with an extra adult/child range of $12 to $8 per night.
- Chris Wilson of rvvoice.com.au website told GoSee the Beechworth Lake Sambell Caravan Park is not attractive in the Australian road touring context as it is off the popular/preferred touring routes which are used by Core Travellers.
- With this in mind GoSee is working with CMCA and CRVA to attract travellers to regional road touring experiences and;
- Work is also being done by CMCA, CRVA (Caravan Industry Assoc. of Aust)and GoSee to publicise value accommodation options which are on popular/preferred touring routes.
- Low Cost No Frills accommodation is seen as value at $20 or less per night for two people (source rvvoice website).
Editors Note: A byline on a GoSee story indicates opinion.