‘Freedom campers’ should be able to pitch tents where they want
Posted on 06.10.2017
THEY’RE widely seen as freeloaders and are the bane of council inspectors around the country but a university academic says illegal campers are just “freedom campers” who should be able to pitch their tents or park their vans where they want.
Southern Cross University researcher Rod Caldicott was yesterday awarded his doctorate after a five-year PhD study into “freedom camping” in areas from Bondi to Byron Bay to Birdsville and Cairns.
Dr Caldicott said rising numbers of nomads were hitting Aussie roads in RVs and campervans and many did not want to stay in crowded and expensive tourist parks.
But he said regulators were failing to keep pace with the new breed of travellers whose vans had all the mod-cons and who did not need powered sites or other facilities. He said many would be happy to pay “10 bucks a night” to camp on public or private land.
“I’m certainly not advocating free, no-cost camping but I think people have a right to choose where and how they spend their time and money,” said Dr Caldicott, a lifelong camper whose family ran caravan parks and who dreamed up his PhD subject in a rooftop tent by the side of the road.
“There’s now a whole bunch of people who are permanently on the road, living virtually full-time in RVs, from homeless people and single parents to retirees with million dollar rigs.”
While Brisbane’s Bartel family are camping at the council-run Broadwater Tourist Park they said they often also camped at low-cost or no-cost spots such as Double Island Point.
Dr Caldicott said “freedom camping” had been around for hundreds of years but when caravan parks sprang up in the 1930s and 40s, authorities began regulating camping.
“But not everyone wants to be corralled into miniature suburbs,” he said.
Dr Caldicott said TV commercials promoted campervan travel as free and easy but when travellers pulled up at beaches, public parks and roadsides, “local government is putting them in wheel clamps”.
He said itinerant travellers might not visit theme parks and fancy restaurants but still bought groceries, fuel and other supplies, and contributed significantly to local economies.
Dr Caldicott said countries such as the US and China had recognised freedom camping and Australia needed to do likewise with national guidelines.
The Courier Mail
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