IN RESPONSE to complaints about people camping for free around the Northern Rivers, and particularly in the Byron Shire, we received this letter from grey nomad David Rickertt:
WE ARE grey nomads travelling Australia most of the year.
We do not stay in caravan parks that charge over $25 - there are thousands of grey nomads like us who do the same.
We free camp most of the year but I would like to point out we are not free loaders.
We give donations or pay camp fees where required, we are CMCA members and Centrelink pensioners and travel on that pension.
If we stayed in caravan parks we could not afford to travel.
We own a second hand motorhome, fully self-contained, and we don't need caravan parks and don't consider ourselves tourists - just Australians travelling Australia.
There are thousands of other grey nomads like us who like us are sick of being called free loaders.
We spend money on food, fuel and other things we need, we do not waste money and that allows us to travel and enjoy what we do.
We were up north but never went to Cairns as there was no affordable accommodation under $22 but went to Babinda free, Mareeba $18 rodeo ground and other places where low cost camping is and we were made to feel welcome.
Cities like Geraldton WA, Rockhampton and Maryborough in Queensland all have free camps and there are towns all over Australia reaping the benefits by having free or low cost camps.
We don't want caravan parks that charge over $22 or more and charge more just because they think it's peak season.
It's not our fault if they spend thousands on their parks.
Why should we have to pay for things we don't need?
There are thousands of grey nomads who have sold their home, paid off the mortgage, bought a caravan or motorhome and live on the road full time living on Centrelink pensions.
Overseas backpackers who hire campervans are another issue.
They are not all self contained but spend money on food, fuel and other things also, we are told Australia needs them and, if so, need to be catered for as they can't afford the caravan parks either.
If we force them into parks they won't come and thousands jobs will go from hire companies that provide these campers and cars.
If the grey nomads can't free or low cost camp and they stop travelling, look what it would do to the caravan industry.
Jayco alone employs 1400 people, Avida and many others would fold.
According to government figures, grey nomads are worth around $6 billion to the economy.