Caravan park owner: Bring back rangers to police illegal campers
A CARAVAN park owner has called for the Mackay Regional Council to police caravans staying overnight illegally.
Shirley Stephens runs Moana Caravan Park at the Hay Point turnoff. She said caravan parks always had vacancies, but nothing prevented travellers stopping by the roadside.
Websites like Wikicamps are letting people know that they won't get caught if they stop illegally.
"The council's got it in their brain that we need these free campers. We don't need free campers. They will not spend money. They are not the ones who spend money," Ms Stephens said.
"The ones who stay in van parks, they are the ones with money and they are the ones who are going to put money into the community. The ones who want free sites won't spend money in town."
Moana offers $22 for a powered overnight stay or $6 per head for use of the showers and an overnight place to park only.
"When we wanted to expand, we had to install a car wash bay, top of the range sewerage system, dump point, and establish grass and trees," Ms Stephens said.
"We are the cheapest park in the district, yet travellers are not stopping in. They bypass the Mackay area as Mackay doesn't allow free parking.
"This free camping business is going to become a major problem in the next couple of years. We need to nip it in the bud.
"They need to support those of us who are already here by reducing our costs, particularly the caravan registration costs. They also need to support main roads so they can get them out of the truck stops."
Mrs Stephens said the region's truck drivers were at risk because they were "being overrun with caravans".
"During the boom in 2006, 2007, there was major issues with caravanners on the roads," she said. "They were pulling up because they said they couldn't find anywhere, and rangers were out there actively getting them off the side of the road and into parks. That has now lapsed.
"The best outcome would be if the council policed the free parkers, to get them into the caravan parks. They need to get them off the roads, for everybody's safety."
Councillor Ayril Paton said it would cost too much to employ rangers to police illegal caravanners.
"It would cost close to $200,000 just to employ two rangers," Cr Paton said.
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