Maybe Fraser Coast can accommodate backpackers & travellers at Torbanlea while Sydney’s beachside councils debate camper vans

This is an opportunity to tell the world travellers that we the Fraser Coast are open for business & want you to come & enjoy our area & facilities. We the Fraser Coast people welcome you with open arms.Forget Sydneys councils debate about campervan parking & come here to sunny Queensland in the Fraser Coast & stay with us a while.

Torbanlea is the gateway to the Fraser Coast situated directly on the Bruce Highway half hour from Maryborough-Hervey Bay-Childers & Fraser Island.

A 300 modular home development project is planned for Torbanlea which will give travellers the facility they need to access all the wonders of the Fraser Coast & beyond from one central location here at Torbanlea.

The story of the Sydney issue is explained below.

More to come on the accomodation project in Torbanlea

Camper-vanners young and old want to visit the beach, but often there is nowhere legal to park overnight.

Camper-vanners young and old want to visit the beach, but often there is nowhere legal to park overnight. Photo: Ben Rushton

Many Sydney councils want backpackers to go back where they came from, but Sutherland is exploring ways to make its beachside suburbs a “destination point for local and overseas campervan users”.

The Sutherland Shire council voted this month to investigate the possibility of providing facilities for campervan parking and single overnight stays in suitable areas of “high tourist” appeal with easy access to local cafes and business.

We want people to come to our country, we want them to visit us, but in many cases it is as long as you don’t come in my street and don’t come in my area.

Steve Simpson, councillor, Sutherland Shire

Councillor Steve Simpson, who proposed the motion, said there was a shortage of tourist accommodation, particularly camping sites near the beaches of Cronulla or Wanda where most people wanted to stay. As a result, valuable grey nomads — who spent $700 on average during any stay on shopping and dining – were bypassing the shire.

An attractive spot for camper-vanners: Sydney's Cronulla Beach.

An attractive spot for camper-vanners: Sydney’s Cronulla Beach. Photo: James Alcock

“We want people to come to our country, we want them to visit us, but in many cases it is as long as you don’t come in my street and don’t come in my area,” he said of the outcry in response to backpacker vans crowding beachside streets.

A short-stay camping site with facilities nearer the beach, for example, would encourage retirees in campervans, caravans and RVs to visit, while providing younger nomads in campervans with an affordable way to spend the night without breaking the law.

“By not having that, we miss out on the benefits. I want them to spend their children’s inheritance at local shops,” Mr Simpson said of the grey nomads. “I want them to spend money and go to restaurants.”

Suitable for camper-van parking? Cronulla Beach's parking area.

Suitable for camper-van parking? Cronulla Beach’s parking area. Photo: Chris Lane

It would also address the problem of younger visitors parking their vans illegally overnight. “If you put people in areas that are well-maintained, and they can go there at a reasonable cost, it takes away that problem of being harassed in streets, and people knocking on their windows.”

While the sight of younger nomads in campervans doing their washing or changing the clothes on the street has infuriated residents of many Sydney suburbs, Cr Simpson said most were well-behaved with a handful giving the rest a bad reputation.

Sutherland’s mayor Kent Johns said the shire was looking at how to improve tourist numbers “without attracting undesirables”. The current investigation was only “an exploratory document”, he said.

This is Newcastle Entertainment Centre when camper-vanners descend upon it for the caravan, campervan and camping expo. Could this soon be Cronulla or Wanda beaches?

This is Newcastle Entertainment Centre when camper-vanners descend upon it for the caravan, campervan and camping expo. Could this soon be Cronulla or Wanda beaches? Photo: Jonathan Carroll

Locals said skyrocketing property prices near the beach made it unlikely that the council would find suitable land.

Opening a ‘can of worms’

While other councils in NSW and Victoria, particularly near popular beaches, have had a big problem with unwanted backpacker vans staying in unauthorised areas – often treating locals to intimate views of them undressing, cooking and worse – Cronulla has so far avoided the worst. After local complaints about the number of vans parked overnight on the streets near Bondi, Waverley mayor Sally Betts asked the NSW government if it could erect signs saying ‘no camping or overnight stay’ at multiple entry points to the local government area. It was knocked back, according to media reports.

Wanda beach is also a spot Councillor Steve Simpson wants camper-vanners to make use of.

Wanda beach is also a spot Councillor Steve Simpson wants camper-vanners to make use of. Photo: John Veage

The president of the Cronulla Chamber of Commerce, Mark Aprilovic, said Mr Simpson was opening a “can of worms”.

The shire wanted more visitors, he said, but beachfront areas were densely populated and heavily used by locals from early morning bootcamps to surfing competitions.

“Where can you put them [people in vans] and how can do you do this without offending the local people?” asked Mr Aprilovic, who runs a local surf school.

The owner of the Cronulla Beach Youth Hostel Michael Keogh said backpackers often asked if they could sleep in their vans but use the hostel’s facilities. His answer is no.

He applauded Cr Simpson for recognising the importance of tourism but he said Cronulla’s rising land values would be the biggest hurdle to the plan coming to fruition.

‘”There is only one hope near Cronulla and that is to rezone open park  areas in front of the Green Hills Land estate,” he said.  RV and camping  areas required a lot of space and infrastructure, he said, and single lots near there were currently selling for more than $1.6 million, it was difficult to see that happening near there.

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Henry Sapiecha

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