A family holidaying in the Whitsundays was left with a sour taste in their mouth after receiving a parking fine. Pictured is Taylah, Josie, Jordyn Ray, Stewart, Sam, Matt, Coby and Kath. Picture: Supplied
A family holidaying in the Whitsundays was left with a sour taste in their mouth after receiving a parking fine. Pictured is Taylah, Josie, Jordyn Ray, Stewart, Sam, Matt, Coby and Kath. Picture: Supplied

‘RIPPED OFF’: Tourist’s outrage over fine from full car park

A family trip to Whitehaven quickly turned sour courtesy of two parking fines, sparking outrage from a group of travellers who said they were “ripped off” while trying to boost the Whitsunday tourism industry.

Coby Van Den Elst travelled to Bowen from Townsville to be with her son and daughter-in-law for Christmas.

Other family members joined him from the Gold Coast and Turkey Beach.

As part of their Whitsunday escape, they booked a tour to Whitehaven Beach.

“We thought it would be a really good way to get out there … so off we went, and we were so excited because the weather was so perfect after a bit of rain,” she said.

But their picture-perfect day on the iconic beach came to an abrupt halt on their return to the marina.

Before the tour departed, the family had circled the Port of Airlie car park, but with no spare spaces they instead parked at the nearby boat ramp.

“We drove round and round that car park, but it was absolutely full to capacity,” Ms Van Den Elst said.

A family was stung with a parking fine after the Port of Airlie car park was at capacity before their tour. Picture: File
A family was stung with a parking fine after the Port of Airlie car park was at capacity before their tour. Picture: File

“There were three seniors (with us), so we couldn’t drive back down to Airlie and find a parking spot and walk back.”

When they arrived back to the cars, they were shocked to find two $133 fines.

“I was just so angry,” she said.

“When you’re trying to build up the tourist economy because of COVID, it’s been such a bad year … and we virtually get ripped off.”

“If that’s the way they want to treat people who are trying to spend their hard-earned money in their region, then we’d rather go elsewhere and spend it where we’re appreciated.”

During the tour, the family agreed to book a trip to Hamilton Island after falling in love with it during a short stopover.

However, after their parking experience, Ms Van Den Elst said they would take their money elsewhere.

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“If you’re having these tours, and you want the tourists to come and take the tours, then you need to make sure that there is enough parking for the people that are going,” she said.

“It really spoiled an absolutely brilliant day.”

Whitsunday Regional Council owns the Port of Airlie car park.

Council’s director of community services Julie Wright said people could apply to have their fine waived with the council, however it was not guaranteed.

She also encouraged people to use the parking available near the Boathouse, which is directly across from the Port of Airlie car park.

There is also overflow parking available on Waterson Way.

Ms Wright said the council was continuing to address the parking situation in the Airlie Beach area with a parking strategy program currently under way.



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