Council move against illegal campers isn't a crackdown

German tourists Julina Senol and Alexandra Porsch with the WikiCamps Australia app.
German tourists Julina Senol and Alexandra Porsch with the WikiCamps Australia app. Robyne Cuerel

UPDATE: Extra signage and afternoon visits by compliance officers are part of a plan to control illegal campers but the council doesn't want it to be seen as a crackdown.

Fraser Coast Mayor Gerard O'Connell said extra signage would be installed, especially in areas where illegal campers were known to stay.

He said compliance officers would visit the sites in the afternoons to let campers know it was illegal to stay overnight and to point them to the available caravan parks.

"A major part of what we're doing is trying to control the message to protect our tourist image," Cr O'Connell said.

"We don't want the message to come across as a crackdown and drive tourists away.

"We'd rather educate campers so they spread the word that Hervey Bay is a nice place to visit with good caravan parks rather than have them spread the message that people should avoid Hervey Bay because they fine you for stopping in a car park.

"The answer is not a simple blitz on campers.

"It's a subtle long-term plan to educate and spread the message while still trying to control the illegal camping that is happening now."

EARLIER: An online app incorrectly directing travellers to "free camping" at car parks on the esplanade at Hervey Bay is adding to the number of vans and vehicles parking up for the night.

Fraser Coast Regional Council has fielded reports from the public that backpackers were exploiting the council's park facilities when they used the space for short-term stays.

Users on the online WikiCamps Australia app gave the car park at the All Abilities Playground on Charlton Esplanade a 4.8-star rating.

Alongside GPS coordinates to direct travellers to the car park, there's the promise of free camping, toilets, shower facilities, park benches, barbecue, swimming, swings and phone reception.

Not all are happy with travellers spending the night parked in the car park and taking over the facilities.

Despite no signage at the car park to notify of the no camping rules, it is illegal.

Fraser Coast councillor Rolf Light said members of the public had reported littering and some people were showering nude in the beach showers.

"I don't think it's appropriate when there are paid caravan park facilities offered only hundreds of metres either side," he said.

"I'm pretty amazed they're using the park's restroom and single shower to stay overnight.

"Should we be offering them some towels and soap too?"

Cr Light said local businesses and residents weren't appreciating the eyesore on the Esplanade with about 10 campervans staying each night.

"The look is not good," he said.

Cr Light said the problem had escalated in recent weeks.

Should tourists be allowed to camp for free at Esplanade car parks?

This poll ended on 11 March 2014.

Yes - 48%

No - 51%

This is not a scientific poll. The results reflect only the opinions of those who chose to participate.

Topics:  application backpackers fraser coast regional council illegal camping tourists

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