I first listened to the RV strategy at a Gympie Regional Council meeting, here is a round up of what was discussed, and the next draft RV strategy.
Double the number of council controlled sites
Gympie Regional Council RV strategy proposed six new RV sites which add to their six recognised existing sites that are council owned or controlled. On rural locations, I heard, “We want people in these towns”. On the coastal site suggested, a councillor asked if we needed to have one. Would it take tourist dollars away?
They were told that the previous draft strategy feedback was that it did not cover the whole region. Adequate representation across the municipality, to try to encourage people to stay in the area was essential. There is increased demand for RV towns, and that free RV sites are complementary rather than competing – and a great example was Kandanga which is expanding it’s RV options! The revised document recommends a network of stops to encourage travellers to spend more time in the region – to become a destination of choice for RV travellers.
Cost and infrastructure
There is a lot of infrastructure planned, and the meeting discussed “no” budget with a six years roll out. The first strategy was drafted in 2019! It is four years later and the plan for RV camping is so structured, e.g. on how many sites it needs to offer, that they must be accessible to larger vehicles, toilets, and building hardstand concrete or asphalt pads etc. Requirements are listed below for the two types of sites planned for Gympie’s new ‘hierarchy’ of sites: local and regional.
“Desirable” communal facilities in local sites include shelter and shade, seating, lighting, potable water, dump point nearby, and in regional sites also list access to power and shade trees.
Macksville, NSW and Maryborough, QLD offer several town and riverside sites – some with only minimal space. Overall however, each town provides choice and access. Other towns may have sites that aren’t suitable for Big Rigs, but they are still convenient and popular sites in their own right. It would be a shame to see potential sites in the Gympie Region removed from consideration, due to a blanket policy.
A huge number of RV travellers don’t require facilities. It doesn’t have to cost Council anything. You can even find volunteers who would love to act as caretaker if needed. Or systems could be set up so fees go directly to Council.
Recently we’ve seen beautiful grassy parklands and waterside sites where travellers could choose where to set up, transformed into standard drive through parking. It looks pretty, but unfortunately, all the expense ended up less practical. There was no room for awnings, and bollards made parking tricky. Plus vans are squeezed close to each other. I hope this isn’t a trend for the Gympie Region.
If no formalised parking bays ‘to minimise impact on visual amenity’ are recommended for local sites – they why plan for regional sites with designated by hardstand concrete or asphalt pads?
The report states there are “still segments of the market wanting something less structured in the way of non-commercial camping”. At CAMPS AUSTRALIA WIDE we know this is a huge proportion of the market. All the more reason to limit the concrete!
Self Contained Vehicles ONLY
Gympie Council will only accept self contained vehicles*, with all grey water to be contained, due to environmental reasons. One councillor said the policy excludes your average person’s vans called the plan for “flash vans” he said only 50% of new vans and 30% of older vans have a holding tank. He told the meeting that the strategy was for less than a half or third of the market. He says that money from them is “just as good’ and asks it should be opened up to anyone with a van.
The report dismisses this: “In recognition of the limited infrastructure existing at these sites, it is necessary to limit the use of the sites to self-contained RVs to ensure the environment of the sites is not degraded.” However, many towns welcome water for their soil and some ask for grey water on gardens etc.
* Defined in the report as ‘A caravan, motorhome or campervan that can hold fresh water, grey water and black water and has on-board cooking, sleeping and toilet facilities’.
Tin Can Bay site moved out of town
The draft presented to council late last year proposed the more convenient site as the Depot off Coral Trout Drive (pictured). Council officers said it was visible, not used for any other purpose, was not in proximity of houses and only 200m to shops. We did a site visit and noted it was a large flat area, also in walking distance to Tin Can Bay Inlet.
The local councillor suggested there was the potential for misuse and compliance issues and a larger site out of town, that CMCA should be invited to look at potential sites. In addition, Normal Point was said to be a more obvious site – already set up and beautiful – but “heavily used”, another option is Crab Creek and a local club also suggested their land.
The report only includes a site out of town. Outer limits of a walkable distance from the main street was the reason a potential site was removed in Kandanga, why not Tin Can Bay where the site is out of town?
No sites for Rainbow Beach
None of a number of possible sites were suitable due to “proximity to, and availability of, a range of camping and accommodation options”, surrounding sensitive land uses and works required to make the sites suitable for vehicle traffic.
It would be useful to see the comparison of potential sites for both Tin Can Bay and Rainbow Beach, similar to the report’s detailed analysis at Kandanga.
Feedback from commercial operators was that the time (limit) is ample and any longer could influence commercial operators, with a preference for between 24-48 hours. It was suggested that to ensure competitive neutrality, the number of sites for free camping should be limited in Kilkivan.
Is it council’s role to limit camping sites which is perceived to benefit one or two businesses? When increasing overall visitation has the potential to drive RV tourism not only for the town, but for the region?
The report also says, “Research indicates those who use commercial sites are generally a different group of travellers from those who use non-commercial sites. Accommodation options to meet the needs of both types of traveller are required”.
So why hasn’t the ‘network’ encompassed Rainbow Beach? Or including a convenient location in Tin Can Bay? Weier Oval in Kilkivan could be used as overflow instead of eliminating it as a local site.
Only some towns planned to be RV Friendly
Here’s what a location need to qualify as a registered RV Friendly Town:
- Appropriate parking within the town centre, with access to shopping area/groceries
- Short-term, low-cost overnight parking (24/48 hours) for self-contained RVs, close to the CBD
- Potable water
- Free dump point
The only thing required on the coast is overnight parking areas and signage! Sites don’t need to council owned – commercial enterprises could also supply them e.g. pubs and clubs.
Increase in time limit
A maximum time limit for stays of 72 hours is to apply. This will be a welcome increase for smaller locations.
Free vs low cost
Another recommendation is the introduction of low cost fees for popular RV ‘Regional’ sites with a greater level of facilities.
More dump points, water and day parking
There are 7 dump points and 5 water fill stations available in the region, more are planned. The need for long vehicle day parking in tourism locations, especially to provide access to shops.
Although this report only includes council owned/controlled land any RV travel promotion would be useful if it was more inclusive. Brochures or website promotion could include all camping sites across the region including rest areas, forests, caravan parks, pub stays and national parks etc.
The report recommends identifying those parts of the planning scheme that discourage the development of free or low cost RV sites and amend them. We applaud this. Why not apply this to commercial operators or clubs who wish to increase visitation via camping on their grounds e.g. pub camping.
The report recommends to liaise with the business community to explore incentives that may be available and promoted to RV travellers to enhance economic benefits to the community (e.g. local specials for travellers).
Requirements: level parking, space for larger vehicles, bins and signage, area for up to 15 vehicles, no formalised parking bays, proximity to a township, access to toilets
- Chatsworth Park, Bruce Highway, Chatsworth
- Corner of Poulsen Road and Jubilee Road, Carters Ridge
- Marg McIntosh Park, Glastonbury Road, Widgee (where a dump point is planned)
- Dickabram Park, Miva Road, Miva (Plans are to increase RV camping from a 20 hour limit to 72 hours and remove bollards, next to this historic bridge.)
- Kinbombi Falls, Kinbombi (has had recent facilities and trail upgrades)
- Busby Street and Amamoor Street, Amamoor
- Balkin Street, Gunalda
- Gympie Road/Pennycuick Road, Tin Can Bay
Requirements: potable water and/or dump points, amenities, and communal facilities (minimum 10 RVs, sites designated by hardstand concrete or asphalt pads or use of bollards, markers and signage to indicate camping areas. walking distance to shops, access to toilets, and dump point
- Kandanga RV Park – 49-51 Main Street, Kandanga
- Gympie Showgrounds RV Park, Ramsey Road, Southside
- Kandanga Secondary RV Park (on access road for Kandanga historic rail station), Kandanga Creek Road, Kandanga
- Kilkivan RV Site (adjacent to trailhead for Kilkivan to Kingaroy Rail Trail), Bligh St, Kilkivan
- Carters Ridge – Explore tenure options for the Carters Ridge RV site located within the Road Reserve (at the corner of Jubilee Road and Poulsen Road) which likely will involve seeking a partial road closure and amalgamating with the adjoining Council freehold lot, or inclusion into Reserve land i.e. Mary Fereday Park, subject to investigation and feedback from Dept. Resources
- Weier Oval, Kilkivan – has a dump point but does not have a potable water fill point. The site is regularly used by RV campers, although not currently an approved or designated site. At times there have been RVs parking on the oval, causing conflicts with the use of the oval for sports and by schools.
- Elgin Vale Sawmill – considered remote with limited economic benefit, not suitable for large caravans and RVs as the roads are not of an adequate standard, on-site parking is not level and issues with the provision of a water supply and effluent disposal.
- Rattler Precinct RV Park- rejected a number of responses indicated there were not enough sites, very hilly, not within walking distance to Mary Street or supermarkets, located too far from the Bruce Highway, the need for basic amenities including dump point, water supply and greywater disposal.
- Gunalda Rest Area, Bruce Highway; Fat Hen Creek Rest Area, Wide Bay Highway, Kilkivan and Six Mile Rest Area, Bruce Highway, Glanmire were not included as they are Department of Transport and Main Roads Rest Areas.
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Feedback is due by Monday 31st January 2022, and can be submitted by post at PO Box 155, Gympie Qld 4570 or via email at: firstname.lastname@example.org
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