Nomads bypass Bundy
FRUSTRATED grey nomads claim a lack of budget camping and free rest areas threatens to make Bundaberg a forgotten backwater of the Australian caravanning circuit.
Nomadic retirees typically migrate north to Bundaberg during winter to escape frosty conditions in southern states.
But according to disgruntled motorhome enthusiasts, their experience of Bundaberg will be increasingly limited to the windscreen and rear vision mirror of their rigs.
Australian Caravan Club chairman Tom Smith warns local business will be the big loser if Bundaberg Regional Council's stance on budget camping is not brought under review.
"The contribution of touring retirees to local economies has been found to be around $100 a day, per van," he said.
"When a town is popular with the grey nomad community, that money can be a vital revenue stream into the local economy and add up into the millions."
Bundaberg is not listed in motorhome traveller's bible Australia Wide, a publication dedicated to listing towns with budget camping and free rest stops.
It is also absent from the Caravan and Motor Home Club of Australia's list of motor home and RV friendly towns.
Mr Smith said Bundaberg should follow the lead of regional towns such as Kingaroy and open the showgrounds to caravanners at a discounted price.
Victorian grey nomad Julie Chippindall is based in the Melbourne suburb of South Vermont but spends six months of each year on the road.
Mrs Chippindall said Bundaberg's lack of budget accommodation and free rest stops was becoming well known in caravanning circles.
"All the independent budget caravanning spots in town have been closed down," she said.
"There are people who don't want to stay in a caravan park, and as it is now, they're happy to pass on right through."
"Grey nomads are essentially self-sufficient, and they don't want to get packed in like sardines and pay for a whole lot of things they don't need," she said.
Motorhome tourer Ron Loversidge and his wife Jill spent their Boxing Day in a Bargara caravan park as they made their way south to Maroochydore.
Mr Loversidge said a lack of camping facilities had prevented them spending an extended period of time in the region.
"If you don't have a place to stop and pull over for a night, you tend to keep your eyes on the road until you reach the next town with camping facilities," he said.
Bundaberg Regional Council health and environmental services spokeswoman councillor Mary Wilkinson said a camping site in Yandaran had recently been approved by council.
She said council welcomed all tourists to the region but walked a difficult path between the interests of grey nomads and that of local caravan and tourist park operators.
"Council can not provide everything for everybody, for nothing," she said.
"We understand their concerns but there has to be a balance."