No camping: Nomads to snub Callide Dam

SPENDING IN TOWN: Regulars campers from Callide Dam cannot believe SunWater won't allow free camps on the dam foreshore any more.
SPENDING IN TOWN: Regulars campers from Callide Dam cannot believe SunWater won't allow free camps on the dam foreshore any more. Vanessa Jarrett

THE No Camping signs SunWater erected at Callide Dam last week have caused a stir among locals, business owners and the Grey Nomads and campers who travel all over Australia and visit the dam each year.

When the Central Telegraph met some grey nomads last weekend they said the most frustrating part of the ban was that it was young people giving the camping area a bad name.

"We don't want to be causing any issues to the locals because some of them are good but some others ruin it," a camper said.

"Last weekend, for example, a group of people came out at about 5pm and they lit a fire.

"They left at 9pm and left the fire going. It was still going at 4am.

"And in wet weather the locals come out on their bikes and quads and rip up all the grass and create mud.

"And we pick up after everyone else but we still get the blame."

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SunWater have begun evicting campers at Callide Dam.
SunWater have begun evicting campers at Callide Dam. Vanessa Jarrett

Some campers travel from areas as far as Western Australia, Phillip Island, Sunshine Coast Port Macquarie, Young and Orange.

"You will find most of us are responsible campers," the camper said.

"We are fully self- contained, we empty our waste, we have our own toilets and showers.

"Most of us have $50,000 to $60,000 in assets sitting here so we aren't going to let a fire get out of control."

The campers said they would not be "forced to go to a caravan park".

"There are people who do caravan parks and free camps and we are free campers, we won't do caravan parks where we have to pay," they said.

"They are going to force us to go down there and we won't, we will just keep passing by and find another free camp to go.

"The people that free camp spend money in the town because they aren't spending money on a site each night.

"And by the time you set up your vehicle, it isn't a free camp, you have paid

for it.

"You might get fish for dinner one night that you caught but that isn't free once you count all the rods, equipment and the boat."

Moving on to find another free camp, the campers said Biloela would lose out.

"If we were kicked out of here, we are going to go somewhere else and that is a lot of money that is going to go with us," they said.

"They say we are worth $100 per couple per day to a community so Biloela is going to lose a lot of money - the laundromats, the butchers, the restaurants, IGA, Foodworks, the chemist, petrol stations - we we fill one car it is over $100.

"Take last Sunday for example: 11 of us went to

the RSL for lunch and that's just our group of people

we know.

I personally spent $70 because I got takeaways as well but most people probably spent $30-$40 each."

Some campers have stayed at the dam for a few days, some a couple of weeks and one camper i has been there for five weeks.

Settled and enjoying their waterfront views, the campers said they hoped they did not have to move on.

"We like Biloela, we don't want to leave," they said.

"If they want us to go, we will."

Topics:  business camping economy grey nomads sunwater tourism travel

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