Ed’s Letter: A Lot of Bull
In light of our feature story this month, on the forced closure of a popular free camp in Rockhampton, I was further disappointed to hear about another similar situation just this week.
Bulls Camp Reserve is on the Great Western Highway, between Linden and Woodford, in the Blue Mountains. I pass it twice a day. Until today (Dec 4) it has been full of many types of campers on the morning and afternoon passes I make. It has recently been graced with the sign you see pictured here.
The closure is a little different to the one in Rocky, in that the (Blue Mountains) council took the decision without being subject to legal action. It is similar in that the reserve, like Kershaw Gardens in Rockhampton, is a victim of its own success. Up north, in Queensland, the facility was deemed a threat to local caravan parks to the extent that the state body, Caravanning Qld, made sure the matter was dealt with in court. In the Blue Mountains, the facilities were having problems coping with the demands on, in particular, the plumbing.
Bulls Camp is actually an RMS rest area, managed by council. To that end, the council can actually decide the camping uses that apply and that will be allowed. The vagaries of the official line from the RMS on what constitutes rest are open to interpretation. As in, at what hour and for how long? While pitching a tent is a bit of a give-away, sleeping in your campervan? Well …
Anyway, Bulls Camp has a toilet block, and HAD a free shower. That’s been capped. The toilet block isn’t connected to a mains sewer and the frequency of council needing to empty the tanks had increased markedly due to the sheer number of campers. And that costs. Plus, people apparently were emptying toilet cassettes into the system too, which it wasn’t designed for.
According to the council minutes, options include possibly introducing a user-pays system at some point but for the time being, campers are directed to two caravan parks, one in Katoomba and one in Blackheath. Both are council run. Given that a large majority of the campers using the reserve appeared to be backpackers and larger hire vehicles, one wonders whether they have now migrated to the council parks or into other, less managed facilities, shall we say? Which possibly creates another problem. A watch and wait scenario it seems.
In other news, it’s nearly Christmas. We have themed this issue around water because we’re expecting that a lot of you will be heading for water for at least some of your holidays. Wherever you are, have a great Christmas and thanks for your support of the magazine in the last year. Stay safe and travel well.