Gympie council to go after illegal campers
ILLEGAL campers on the Cooloola Coast will soon face fines of up to $266 as part of a planned crackdown by Gympie Regional Council following a surge of complaints.
This week councillors were presented with a plan to increase ranger activity around Rainbow Beach and Tin Can Bay foreshores to deal with the growing problem.
There have been 24 formal complaints made to the council about illegal camping at the coast since July 1.
CEO Shane Gray said this week the number of anecdotal complaints was much higher.
Councillor Jess Milne said the bulk of complaints came in on “weekends, long weekends, and out of hours”.
“It’s not really camper vans … we’re getting full tent set-ups on the foreshore,” Ms Milne said.
The surge in complaints has not been restricted to the coast.
As of Wednesday this week the council had received 86 complaints about illegal camping across the Gympie region.
This was up from 51 in 2019, and 43 in 2018.
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But illegal set-ups on the Cooloola Coast were the subject of this week’s proposal which, if approved by councillors, would give rangers authority to issue verbal and written warnings and, if needed, hand out fines of up to $266.
These would be the last resort, with the plan to “educate first”.
Extra patrols would also be instigated, with patrols to be conducted from 5pm-7am for five weeks, ideally starting next week.
The question of where campers can go across the region, and teh costs they face was also discussed.
Councillor Bob Fredman said he did not think the council was “under any obligation to offer free camping”.
“It should be user pays … it costs the ratepayers money,” Mr Fredman said.
Bruce Devereaux disagreed.
“The people that free camp aren’t the people that go ‘there’s no fee camping, I’ll go stay at a caravan park’,” Mr Devereaux said.
“They travel differently.
“So the only way you’re going to get the free camping money into the area is to have somewhere for them to go.
“If we want to get the most out of our travellers for our businesses … we really have to try and cater somewhere for all of these travellers bringing money into an area.”
There was no resolution on the subject of free camping areas as the matter was discussed at a council workshop.