Free camping proposal for Ballarat

FREE camping for campervans and motorhomes could be available at Pioneer Park in Wendouree under a contentious proposal being considered by the Ballarat City Council. 

Freedom camping is a concept which allows free camping to vehicles certified as being self-contained. 

The council’s proposed “freedom camping” 12-month trial involves allowing large recreational vehicles to stay at the park in Wendouree for little or no cost.

Under the proposal, vehicles would not be permitted to stay longer than two nights.

The Campervan and Motorhome Club said the initiative was urgently needed because there was nowhere in Ballarat which provided the basic facilities required and preferred by recreational vehicle owners.

But while the concept is being pushed by the CAMC who have agreed to have two Ballarat members of the group inspect the site at Pioneer Park in Gillies Street North daily, it has been vigorously opposed by Ballarat caravan park owners.

Owners have voiced serious concerns about the impact of the proposal including the build up of litter and waste on the site, an influx of homeless and needy people using the site and visitors residing illegally. 

They are also concerned people will still use the site despite not having self-contained vehicles and there will be a lack of staff to monitor or manage the site. 

Co-owner of the BIG4 Ballarat Goldfields Holiday Park Annette Terill said she did not believe that the absence of a free camping site in Ballarat was having an adverse effect on tourism.

She said there were already four free camping zones within 25 kilometres of Ballarat, including one in Slaty Creek, Iron Furnace, Smythesdale Gardens Reserve and the Enfield State Park. 

Ms Terrill said there was also an unpowered site at Lake Burrumbeet, which offers camping for about $10 a night. 

“It doesn’t matter if it is going to be a low cost or no cost, it is going to cost somebody to maintain this and it will most likely be ratepayers,” Ms Terill said. “Caravan parks in town have to comply with strict regulations, they employ local people and spend their money within the town.”

She said she wanted the council to undertake further investigation into the proposal. 

According to the council’s report on the proposal, council officers can also shut down the site at any time during the trial if it is found to be having a damaging financial impact on the viability of existing caravan parks.

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