Free stay: Early morning checks around Coffs Harbour have confirmed the concerns of locals.
Free stay: Early morning checks around Coffs Harbour have confirmed the concerns of locals.

Free stays cost Coffs locals

COFFS HARBOUR locals say the Jetty Foreshore is just as bad if not worse than Diggers Beach, for travellers pulling up for a free stay by the sea.

The observation comes after local Kath Tucker complained in Saturday’s Advocate that the city is losing accommodation revenue due to the rising trend of carpark camping.

Research found campers are even using online travel blogs and social networking sites advising other travellers that Coffs Harbour is ‘carpark camper friendly’.

One site said: “Rangers in Coffs don’t move you on like they do in Byron Bay.”

The online plug is thought to have seen more travellers by-pass council-owned caravan parks for a free night at the beach as part of their holidays.

Tony and Margaret Richmond said they counted 26 campers around the Jetty on Sunday at 7am, mainly around the North and South walls.

They informed the Coffs Harbour City Council, as they say they have done on several occasions, and were told ‘we will have someone look at it’.

But at noon, little had apparently been done, and most of the campers continued to enjoy a free piece of prime coastal revenue at ratepayers’ expense.

All the while local council-owned caravan parks in Coffs Harbour had powered and unpowered sites available.

“The caravan parks are missing out on substantial income that is, in fact, ratepayer revenue,” the couple said.

“Council needs to start enforcing the No Camping signs, 26 on-the-spot fines would have been a good start. Otherwise Coffs Harbour ratepayers should sell up your properties now, buy yourself a camper and set yourself up at the free camping ground.

Others responded saying Sawtell and Boambee headlands, Macauleys Headland carpark, Bruxner Park, Moonee Beach, in front of the caravan park, Mullaway and Corindi also are problem spots.

While the trend mainly involves van travellers, The Advocate has also been sent recent photos of 4WD campers and caravanners.

Doug Young suggested that perhaps the coast should take a more friendly approach and like other centres offer free camping to travellers.

That would lure more grey nomads to town for longer, he said.

“As a grey nomad myself, we’ve spoken to other travellers on the road who have said you cannot stay for just one night in Coffs Harbour caravan parks,” Mr Young said.

“I’ve checked this and been told by staff at local parks, two nights is the minimum stay.”

He said Coffs Harbour could take a leaf out of Winton, Queensland’s book, and offer a free camping zone.

“This would encourage travellers to spend more than just a night in Coffs Harbour in a carpark or on the foreshores.

“This would also mean they would contribute more to the local economy during their stay,” he said.

A Coffs Harbour Council spokesperson said rangers conduct regular patrols moving on campers from public lands.

Carpark campers are also frustrating Sydneysiders, with reports that Clovelly is experiencing more ‘freeloading backpackers in vans’ than ever before. To have your say on the car park camping issue email us at

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