Cheeky free campers

Over Christmas illegal campers didn't even try to hide their million dollar camping spots.

Lee McCarthy

Who can blame the poor campers from across Australia who arrive at the foreshore at Rainbow Beach and decide it’s the perfect spot to pull up their van and call it a night?

Unfortunately, this salubrious area is a no-camp zone but there are only a couple of small easily ignored signs and little deterrent for tourists in this, and other parks in the area with police saying its national parks job who say its council who say its police.

With little reason not to camp, and the promise of a good wave in the morning, locals wonder why they bother to pay rates, water fees and home loans when they too could take their van to the foreshore to enjoy the million-dollar views and free showers.

With caravan parks booked out, the much talked about RV Park strategy still in progress, and similar issues in Tin Can Bay and Gympie, what option do they have when they want to visit one of the best beaches in the world?

Over the current holidays, the cheeky visitors didn’t even bother to pretend they weren’t camping with tents still up and tail gates open long after 8am when the morning surfers took off for Double Island.

The issue isn’t that locals and visitors don’t want to make the 200 metre trek from home to get their morning swim, it is the rubbish and effluent left behind according to reports.

We have been told council has now undertaken an audit of parking signage at the lower beach car park and noted several missing signs which will be reinstated in the near future.

Whether this will make any difference is unknown, but you can understand the frustration of the two caravan parks in town who pay huge rates, water fees, staff and maintenance costs and must be Covid safe getting a bit peeved off if they have space available.

The problem is not new to the eastern seaboard, with Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service (QPWS) locking up the public car park at Noosa National Park overnight to deter overnight visitors.

In Byron Bay, camping in streets and parks is prohibited, with fines from $110 but to initiate this regularly in Rainbow Beach would require officers on duty through the night and with many campers from oversees, the high possibility of fines not being paid.

There may be another solution so if you have one, write to council with your suggestion at council@gympie.qld.gov.au and include a photo if possible.