Kershaw Camping Kiboshed

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RV camping at Kershaw Gardens in Rockhampton, Qld, is no longer allowed.

On November 15, the Planning and Environment Court ruled against Rockhampton Regional Council, finding that the use of the site for RV camping was unlawful under the Planning Act.

In late 2017, Caravan Parks Association of Queensland (Caravanning Queensland) launched the proceedings against the council on the basis “that the use of an area known as Kershaw Gardens at Moores Creek Road, Park Avenue, Rockhampton, for free camping was unlawful and constituted a development offence under the Planning Act 2016 (Qld) due to the absence of an effective development permit for the use”.

Caravanning Queensland’s general manager of parks, Michelle Weston, said the decision provided certainty to the association’s members in the Rockhampton region.

“The association was always of the view that the accommodation use of Kershaw Gardens went beyond the ordinary use of a park,” Ms Weston said. “The fact that the accommodation offered was provided free of charge was detrimentally impacting the business of our members; in light of the continuation of this unlawful development and in the interest of our members, including local caravan park operators, we were left with little alternative but to take legal action.”

The ruling has been met with concern by the Australian Caravan Club. “The ACC absolutely respects the decision of the court but our call is to ensure that RV travellers have a freedom of choice in options available to stay in Queensland destinations,” club chairman Craig Humphrey said.

Among the club’s concerns, which it raised with the Queensland government prior to the ruling, was “the inability of many caravan parks to cater for bigger rigs and fifth wheelers”, and “issues with fatigue management if there’s nowhere for RV travellers to pull up and accessing caravan parks at certain times of the year can be difficult”.

The court has given Rockhampton Regional Council until February 15 2019 to stop camping at Kershaw Gardens. The council must also remove all associated signage.

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Max Taylor has been caravanning since he was a kid and was the editor of some of Australia's most well-known RV publications for almost 10 years.

49 COMMENTS

  1. Because of the closure of Kershaw gardens as an RV parking area we will no longer be staying at Rockhampton to do our shopping, and use the service facillities of this great city. We have a large self contained motorhome and will not stay at caravan parks which charge high prices for low grade facillities and poor attitudes toward their “Guests”.I support the council in trying to make freedome camping available to RVs

  2. What a shame. Caravan Parks Association of Queensland should remove their collective heads from their arse. Boycott Rockhampton.

  3. This is typical of the caravan parks of any region in Australia. You can pay up to near $120 a night but try to get a FREE night anywhere and they cry poor! All this does is mean that there are less people going to go into Rocky now. There are a LOT of people who WOULD go to a caravan park who will NOT visit the region if a free camp isnt also available simply because they are upset that it is PAY for it. Well, in the case of a place like CAIRNS which has a lot to see and do, they can get away with that attitude. Poor Rocky cannot. I dont think this will kill Rocky local businesses off but they will find less income. Look at Buladelah for an example of what can be done for local businesses by providing a free (72 hours) camp. The place actually has MORE business than before the highway bypassed it, now. They are so blown away by it, they have plans to extend the free camp onto more adjacent ground in order to get more money in from people staying there. Meantime, Rocky closes its one due to caravan park owners who dont WANT choices, just income. Sadly, all they have done is turned many away.

  4. Once again it’s the power of the Caravan Parks. 😡 We have stayed there twice and it was a delightful spot, close to the shopping areas. What they don’t realise is that the people who stayed in Kershaw Park wouldn’t have stayed in their overpriced CP’s anyway and will move further on.
    The losers are the local business who will lose out on money that these people spent in town.
    The word will get out in the camping world and campers will Totally boycott Rockhampton.

  5. I think this will just make free campers less likely to use anything in Rockhampton, till a new area is found. Not everyone who travels can afford there high prices.

  6. Goodbye me stopping in Rocky anymore .last time there we stopped at Kershaw gardens . Had my car serviced at Mitsubishi. Cost nearly 800 and took in a movie across the road . Well done caravan association I will not be stopping in Rocky anymore.

  7. A clear win for the Caravan Parks Association members but a loss for Rockhampton.People who elect to free camp will avoid staying & spending in the city which will affect the retailers.
    Why not do what others town do & at least have the free camp sites available for those who cannot be accommodated in the caravan parks at certain times of year.Alternatively make the showground available.
    Caravan park operators would be best to understand why people want to free camp & then market themselves differently.

  8. Well, I guess this means that when travelling to North Queensland each year, we will now bypass Rockhampton. When we stayed at Keisha’s Gardens each year, we completely restocked the van from the nearby shopping mall. Another city will now get our custom. This will not be a “win” for the caravan parks of Rockhampton, it will be a loss for all businesses.

  9. I am never going to stay in their pricey caravan parks, they are awkward to set up in. They are generally so close together you can see inside peoples pantries, the noise of kids frolicking is a pain, and I really dont like strangers appearing and trying to back my husband into a site when I am standing there already doing it. Oh and did I mention, I am not prepared to pay some ridiculous amount of money for a few hours sleep and facilities I dont want and wont use. Free camping is my choice. Many people want caravan parks and good luck to them. Stop parks being so greedy. Lorrenda.

  10. People who prefer freedom camping will just not stop at Rockhampton. They won’t be forced into a caravan park, they will go elsewhere and the shops in Rockhampton will miss out on $ 1000s of income. When will they ever learn that there is room for both. Here’s another reason why more and more RV people are going inland where freedom campers are welcome

  11. I agree Bill, the greedy Caravan Parks will not get any more business following the closure of Kershaw Gardens. In fact, the whole city will miss out. With the eventual “Ring Road” around Rockhampton caravanners are more likely than ever to bypass Rocky.

  12. Unfortunately, Queensland already has a poor record in availability and choice for caravanners and the like. The Qld government is failing not only the traveller but the small towns throughout the state. If the government should enable and/or provide a more vast array of choices for the tourist to stay to see the attractions or allow just to vege.
    As for the CPAQ, you are not operating in the interests of the welfare of the small towns. In this case, instead of closure, it should have been suggestions of expansion. It should be all about the welfare of the local community. More caravan parks or putting a monopoly or bias toward caravan parks is unjust and wrong.
    The CPAQ should have been told to pull their head in.
    Will the council be able to open up a free camps elsewhere or will this also be an issue for APCQ?

  13. Yes next time I will definately not stop near this place I am in the middle of planning a fishing trip with a few other people because of the reports of how much its improved since the closing of the river to commercial fisherman ban the place fishos

  14. We travel through Rockhampton on a regular basis. When we stop at the free camp we always shop locally with groceries, petrol, attractions etc. We will now bypass Rockhampton as we have a long range fuel tank and do not have to stop. Other smaller towns can now provide us with our daily needs. This is such a shame as we enjoyed Rockhampton. If caravan park owners provided reasonable rates to travellers instead of outrageous prices which include all the bells and whistles instead of just the basics, they would have more custom.

  15. I agree.
    I think that all caravanning clubs, the CMCA and I guess there are many others, should advise their members and anyone else interested, to boycott all Rockhampton caravan parks
    The town will also be the loser, as well as the park owners who can only see THEIR bottom line.
    I for one, won’t be stopping in Rocky in the future.
    What a short sighted decision.

  16. caravan parks particulary on the east coast have developed this greed ethos! how much money is enough? obviousley, never enough! a town in wa closed down all its free camps, so caravanners diddn’t stop there! the local economy suffered so much that they reopened them! lets hope Rocky comes to its senses and tells these greedy money obsessed caravan park operators to go to buggery.

  17. typical of Rockhampton. lived in the region for 20 years. great place to see, as you DRIVE THROUGH THE PLACE. town of little minded people. some muppet with a caravan park probably drove past Kershaw one night on his way home and saw a couple of vans in there and thought “that’s money I could have been ripping them off”. just keep driving folks. Rocky is the gateway to anywhere else.

  18. How come caravan parks are allowed to influence councils to close down free camps, but hotels and motels have to put up with caravan parks stealing their customers by offering cabins….?

  19. This is the full response from the Australian Caravan Club to this issue…

    Court rules against Kershaw Gardens Rockhampton as an overnight stop for RV travellers.

    The Australian Caravan Club (ACC) has been vocal on the issue of the flow on effects of the possibility of the court ruling against the use of Kershaw Gardens as an overnight stop.
    The Caravan Parks Association of Queensland has won its legal battle to ban free overnight camping at Rockhampton’s Kershaw Gardens. The Environment and Planning Court today decided that camping is illegal and ruled that overnight stays must cease on February 15 next year and all signs removed.
    “Interstate tourists avoiding the southern winter, traditionally travel throughout regional and rural Queensland which could be the regions most affected directly by restrictive camping issues. Many southern grey nomads may wipe Queensland off their winter destinations and will stop at the border or head to SA and up the Centre. Qld communities will lose the economic benefits their tourism brings as they head north each winter” said ACC Chairman Craig Humphrey
    It is estimated that, at any one time, 120 000 of the 600 000 registered RVs in Australia are on the road. RV Travellers spend up to $100 per day (ACC survey) covering fuel, groceries and other necessities. This injects approximately $ 12 million daily into local communities.
    “The Australian Caravan Club in February this year wrote to 7 Queensland Ministers expressing our concern regarding the possible ramifications of the Kershaw Gardens decision. I also met with the Assistant Tourism Minister in March to outline the ACC concerns regarding the implications of the court case and possible ways through the issue.” said Mr Humphrey
    “As I explained to the Assistant Minister the ACC had concerns included the following
    •​Reputational Risk – the issue relates to the perception by RV travellers that Queensland is RV unfriendly through their formal and informal networks,
    •​Regional/Rural Queensland routes will be affected as the perception may grow especially with grey nomads. This is particularly a concern for ACC members,
    •​possible major effect of a decision will be on such providers as show grounds, pub camping, You camp etc. – all a part of the RV traveller freedom of choice decisions,
    •​In some areas of Queensland where local show grounds offer the only option for RV travellers the cost to possibly upgrade infrastructure will be difficult,
    •​The inability of many caravan parks to cater for bigger rigs and 5th wheelers leaving nowhere for these RV travellers to go, and not all parks allow pets and
    •​Issues with fatigue management if there’s nowhere for RV travellers to pull up” said Mr Humphrey
    “At the meeting with the Assistant Minister I suggested that the Queensland Government should consider the Primitive Camp Ground regime implemented with in New South Wales” said Mr Humphrey

    Primitive Camping Grounds are lower key than conventional camping grounds and are not required to have, for example, sealed roads, hot water or laundries. These are often in scenic locations such as in bushland, near rivers or on the coast. The New South Wales Government has such legislation operating effectively throughout their state.
    The Australian Caravan Club calls on the Queensland State Government to convene a round table of stakeholders including the relevant RV consumer organisations to work collaboratively to ensure appropriate strategies are developed for regional and rural areas continue to attract RV travellers who may now bypass these areas as a result of the Kershaw gardens decision.

  20. As a grey nomad who travels up and down the coast and else ware I will not stop at Rockhampton I will get my supplies before or after

  21. Bloody greedy caravan park owners continue to throw cold water on free camping. Maybe if they
    Lowered their charges more people might consider going there. The rates are exorbitant in some of the Qld, NSW, NT and Western Aust. Parks and Sth Australia is following suit. Leave the free campsites alone they are not going to break you!! Another reason that some people want to use
    free campsites is that they don’t want or need all the bells and whistles that a lot of parks offer
    they just want peace and quiet

  22. To much greed in Australia boycott Rockhampton there is plenty of other great places to visit on the Queensland coast that aren’t filled with small minded business people.

  23. What a load of BS! Development planning. Australia has gone crazy. No free camping is against our rights. But then again QLD has always been different just like WA and NT.

  24. Not every caravaner can afford to stay at caravan parks. We never have and never will use high priced caravan parks in coastal cities like Rockhampton when all we need is a parking spot. The caravan parks association will not gain any more customers such as us by this selfish action. It will only make caravaners bypass Rockhampton altogether. The big losers will be all the other businesses and tourist operators in town. I hope the local businesses associations force a reversal of the decision or work with the council to set up other areas close to the CBD for 24hr parking.

  25. Well whilst the caravan parks association claims a win the losers will be the town as we may visit Rocky but will not stay and you can be assured our money spent on fuel,food,tires and repairs, the shops, the pub and restaurants will be spent in towns that value tourists.

  26. These two comments have missed the point, it was not Rockhampton Council that closed the park, & boycotting that city is punishing the wrong people.

  27. What a shortsighted decision to close yet another free camp. As mentioned by others it’s the rest of the business community who miss out. We too are free campers and choose to be so for many reasons but probably the overriding one being the ‘style’ or the ‘flavour’, the freedom and the people you meet, the caravan parks just cannot compete with this and is perhaps the primary reason for us not using them, not to mention their ever escalating prices (for amenities we don’t want or need) We have just completed a three month trip through NSW, Vic. and SA and were surprised and delighted by the number of rural towns who have done the exact opposite, they have created free spots for the traveling public, all were well patronized and everybody left some money in that town, we certainly did. It reminds me of Warwick here in Qld. A town we wanted to stay and explore one time but were told, there is no free camps here and there is no camping at the local show grounds for exactly the same reason, pressure from the local caravan parks!
    Guess who never spends a dollar in Warwick!

  28. We love to free camp as we can have a small contained and carefully watched camp fire. This is a luxury not afforded us in caravan parks. We also enjoy the peace and quiet as we don’t have to put up with being jammed in like sardines as is the case of most caravan parks.
    Most people that free camp spend a lot of money in these towns as has widely been mentioned in the previous comments.
    We don’t stop in Bowen any more because of being moved on. On the day we had been evicted, we had already spent over $300 in town. That was the last dollar we have spent in Bowen.

  29. I do agree with all the previous comments; but also as Keith said, it’s sad that the retail businesses have to suffer. I have just ‘unsubscribed’ from a couple of Caravan Parks emails as a protest, and will still avoid Rocky, in the hope that local businesses will pressure the local council to rectify the situation and thumb their noses at the few caravan parks.

  30. So do you really think that the caravan parks care if you boycott them you have all said that you won’t use their parks. However you are punishing the town who was offering the service you want and went to court to fight on your behalf. Typical of this community who want something for nothing and think that blackmailing a town is a legitimate negotiation tactic.

  31. Most people have not read the ruling by the Land and Environment court v Rockhampton Regional Council. Instead of slamming the Caravan Park owners, petition the Council to have an effective development permit for the use. Gosh, that will take someone in Town Planning a couple of days to develop an application and then submit it. Oh wait, they are already doing that aiming to have the decision reversed before the February 15th deadline. I guess the other side of it is why should the majority (ratepayers and fellow caravanners) have to pay for the minority (freedom campers)? Who pays for the upkeep such as rubbish removal and maintenance of parking bays? Oh, the residents and ratepayers of Rockhampton, not the freedom campers. Who pays for the upkeep of the caravan parks? The people who use them. Take some responsibility for your own requirements.
    Oh latest news. Rockhampton Regional Council have submitted the application. They are installing cameras and an honesty collection system for $10/night for use of the area. Apparently they have one of the new number plate recognition systems in council, so you will have to pay…

    • I hate the title “free camping” and have no problem with councils charging $10-$15 per night for facilities such as toilets, hot showers, etc., also the maximum stay should be 72 hours and have this monitored/policed. I am a regular caravanner and do not require jumping castles, swimming pools, etc., perhaps caravan parks should look at us oldies and offer cheaper accommodation, even if we have to pay for hot showers and if necessary coin-in-slot electricity useage. Caravan parks have also taken away from motels since the installation of unit/cabin accommodation, but they don’t ever mention this.

  32. Unfortunately, there is room for both! There are always families,couples etc who prefer to stay at Caravan Parks. It would be a different story if the Caravan Park was almost empty every night with the Free Camps overflowing, but that’s not the case! Yes the Council has to service these areas, but they forget the amount of income it brings to the local businesses.

  33. Well, it seems to me that the villain here is greedy van parks (hiding behind the camouflage of CPAQ), and not the town or the Council. If we want to protect free campsites in the area, I suggest a better strategy is to offer to work with the council to secure alternative free sites. NSW has demonstrated it can be done successfully and I’m sure the Council would appreciate our support. Boycotting Rocky is punishing the local businesses who haven’t been part of the debate. Anyone experienced in lobbying or council administration that could ring and offer support? Such a move is to target big business (hiding as CPAQ) who is seeking to control the market, which should be the real target of our dissatisfaction. Caravanners, get organised and not just offended.

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