Cheeky backpackers on the outer

THE party will soon be over for cheeky backpackers treating the centre of Rainbow Beach as their own personal toilet and camping ground.

Gympie Regional Council has been looking for a way to stop the increasingly outrageous behaviour of a small percentage of the thousands of backpackers who visit Rainbow Beach every year, and late last year engaged the services of security firm Verifact Security.

The officers were recently accredited to issue $500 on-the-spot fines to repeat offenders setting up camp in the main street.

Backpackers will be given one warning to move on to a more appropriate camping spot away from residences and the heart of town, and if they then fail to do so within a given time, they will be fined $500. The fine will be issued against the vehicle as the vast majority of backpackers arrive in Rainbow Beach in hired vehicles.

Councillors Graham Engeman and Ian Petersen said this week that in addition to setting up camp on footpaths and parking areas, some backpackers had been gathering and drinking in the grounds of the almost completed Rainbow Beach community hall and using the footpath in front of houses and in the central business district to go to the toilet or empty their campervan toilets.

The councillors have been liaising with the Department of Transport and Main Roads, which has jurisdiction over the Rainbow Beach main street and getting local laws upgraded so that the security officers are authorised to issue fines to backpackers.

"The backpackers want it all for free and right in the main street," Cr Engeman said.

"We have got residents there paying rates and providing accommodation and operating caravan parks," he said.

"Plus we have a camping area that accommodates 3000 people at Inskip.

"There is basically a lack of respect for the facilities and residents. It's not only here. It's in many, many places."

And it's apparently getting worse as time goes by.

Backpackers have also come under recent fire for showering and washing their clothes in the new public toilets and hot showers at the Rainbow Beach swimming reserve.

Hot water was originally reticulated to all showers in the block but has now been restricted to the first aid room and the disabled shower. The council is now investigating if it is legally obliged to provide hot water to the disabled shower, because there is no way to limit use of the shower to disabled people only.

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