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Travellers shut out of van parks

An article in the Brisbane Sunday Mail dated 8th February, '04 expounds on the problem for long term travellers, particularly those with mobile homes in accessing van parks. This particular article refers to Queensland. but is this a common difficulty? Many current parks and councils seem to be unable to cope with the flood of travellers for various reasons, including the fact that previously designated caravan parks are often being pulled 'down for development'.
Councils and communities need to take note that the travelling sector of our community is rapidly growing and that they need to cater for their needs. Caravan and Motorhome Club of Australia director, Barry Ward was quoted as saying 'the family caravan of the 1960's had been overtaken by retirees. We have a flood of retirees and it's only just starting to happen.' The article goes on to say that this group is 'growing by 5000 a year'. They need somewhere to park what is now often very elaborate and large 'self-contained luxury campervans'. Consideration also needs to be given to those who travel 'with pets and dogs'. It also says that a lot of tourist parks are operating 'the way they were 30 or 40 years ago' - not for today's needs. A study by Balfour Consulting has identified that 78 per cent of campervan travellers were retirees, and similar to the backpacker market, want to maximise their experiences and minimise what they perceive as 'low value' expenditure. The total expenditure is estimated to average about $360 a week, but with about 36,000 of these along the Queensland coastline alone and growing at the aforementioned rates, our councils and communities could certainly benefit by planning, managing and accommodating for this fraternity - a mutually beneficial and win - win situation!

Re: Travellers shut out of van parks

Having been involved in the caravaning industry for more then 20 years, I must say this is the first I have heard of this happening. My advice to anyone planning on travelling is plan ahead. If you know you are going to be staying in a particular location book in advance. Most operators will allow a reasonable amount of flexibility should you be delayed or arrive early.

Re: Travellers shut out of van parks

We are currently conducting research on park closures and alternative accommodation. If you are aware of any closures, parks with over 50% perms or heavily over crowded in peak periods, please contact us and let us know what areas this problem exists.
Thanks to all who assist.

Re: Travellers shut out of van parks

Shane - just the advice, repeated too often, to book ahead is sad.

Far too often you have to book - that's not what caravanning has been about over all the years. Its great to wake up and say "Lets go on to the next stop", or "Lets stay here". Hard to do that now.

Broome has always been hard to get a site - but now all across the top end has to be planned like a military operation. Not happy Shane!

It seems much more profitable for parks to jam the cabins in at $75 a night rather than have lots of powered sites at $15. Or sell the park to a developer.

The industry is selling 20,000 vans a year I think - but how many new sites are opening up?

There is a structural problem - and it won't be solved by denial of its existence!


Re: Travellers shut out of van parks

Kym and LYN AND Max,Re Parkes I gave away using them years ago for the same reason,while travelling who wants to have to clock in to a place we are out there to enjoy our selves not be restrained by time.We now free camp and if we choose to stay longer we do just that.Bill.

Re: Travellers shut out of van parks

My Wife and I are newly retired and in the process of converting a bus. We have travelled widely over most of Aus during our working lives, Mostly with the comment that "We will have to stop and have a look one day," well that day is almost here, we do not intend to go past any place of interest, the only itinerary we intend is to have no itinerary.As far as booking ahead, that is not an option. If there is not a caravan park available when and where we wish to stop, too bad.The signs on the side of the road state, stop revive and survive, it would be a very game official that would risk the repercussions of stopping some one doing that.

Re: Travellers shut out of van parks

I agree.. booking ahead is not an option. If we arrive at a new place and like it we'd like the option of staying a bit longer if we want to.. We dont need the pressure of a time constraining itinery. The problem is compounded during school holidays when other 'normal' folk want to get away with their kids.
Have seen the suggestion that what we need is Parks specialising in grey nomad requirements e.g. we dont need playgrounds, games rooms or even swimming pools (some might argue about this one). We do need easy to get into sites, space, clean amenities and no noise. Personally, we like concrete slabs, TV aerial connection, and lots of trees.

Re: Travellers shut out of van parks

Hi folks -

Park operators have only themselves to blame for the number of people who free camp. I am amazed they have not yet twigged that providing more and more "resort" type facilities is not the way to attract the vast majority of caravanners - i.e. retirees.

We've caravanned for almost 40 years, now retired, and from countless conversations with other travellers I can say that without fail the general concensus is that we would prefer to use caravan parks most of the time during our travels but simply can't afford to. By adding all the U-beaut facilities like pool, rec room, TV room, all sorts of play equipment, etc. (all with correspondingly high insurance costs) they've priced themselves out of the market. All we want is a dry level site in a peaceful environment, clean ablutions, friendly staff and at a price we can afford. For most retirees on a budget that would be a maximum of $20-$22/night at today's prices. By keeping away from the city areas we have found many parks to be at or well below this price with good to excellent facilities. The rest we avoid.

If park operators got their act together and provided this kind of facility their parks would be well patronised and there would be no need for people to free camp unless by their own choice.

How about a caravanner's directory (similar to the wonderful Camps Australia Wide book) advertising only budget priced caravan parks in all states, with a simple guide to their facilities and whether or not pet friendly? I guarantee it would be a best seller.

Cheers, Irene.

Re: Travellers shut out of van parks

Hi Irene,I agree with most of what you say but if you are self contained.toilet,shower,solar,etc you cannot beat bush camping beside a river, listening to the birds etc.being with nature is one of lifes pleasures enjoy it we are only here once.Bill

Re: Travellers shut out of van parks

We agree with all the comments in this thread, including free camping. The only problem with free camping is the lack of water supplies Many country councils and shires do not provide this and haven't heard of the idea of RV friendly to support their local businesses) and if youre up in the northern parts of the country, its had to survive without power to keep your 'van air con going (yeah - many of you purists will poo poo us for wanting air con. We're in the Goldfields WA and daily temps are hitting 42 degrees)