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Byron Shire
April 23, 2021

Illegal street campers in Byron Bay fined

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nocampingTen people were fined in Byron Local Court on Thursday as Byron Shire Council continues its crackdown on  illegal overnight camping.

The ten people, nine of whom pleaded guilty, were fined a combined total of $5,350, including court costs for illegally camping in Byron Bay during the busy Christmas-New Year break.

Six of them, from south east Queensland, were found together by council staff illegally camping overnight in Border Street, Belongil.

One of the men in this group failed to appear in court and was fined $700, including costs.

Another three were German visitors who were found illegally camping overnight near the site of the Byron Community Markets.

A tenth person was also found illegally camping overnight by Council staff in Border Street, Belongil, while an 11th pleaded not guilty to overnight camping and will face Court again on 7 April.

Council’s legal services coordinator Ralph James said it was important Council continued to take action against illegal camping on the community’s behalf.

‘The reason council continues to direct part of its limited enforcement budget to targeting illegal overnight street camping is because Council is committed to supporting positive local amenity,’ Mr James said.

‘With close to 1.5 million visitors annually, Council and the community welcome tourism as a vital part of the Shire’s economy.

‘At the same time, we need to get the balance right by working to ensure that tourism maximises benefit for the community and does not disrupt town amenity.’

Mr James said the fines showed tourists using camping vehicles to visit the Byron Shire could avoid having their holiday turn sour by taking simple steps.

‘These latest judgments in the local court provide further evidence that illegal camping is simply not worth it.

‘For the minimal cost to visitors coming by vehicle to stay in one of the shire’s many quality camping grounds, not only will they do the right thing by the Byron shire and respect the community they are temporarily a part of, but they will potentially avoid a fine worth many more times the cost of staying lawfully.

‘Yesterday was a strong deterrence message and I have no doubt that it will spread quickly via word of mouth amongst potential street campers,’ he said.

Mr James also noted that visitors who camp illegally overnight and who also create noise or damage the environment by littering, faced the prospect of even larger fines.

‘Council’s interpretation of the court’s decisions on Thursday is that matters such as loud noise and leaving waste could be regarded as aggravating factors when determining an appropriate penalty,’ he said.

Mr James said council would continue to work with the community to reduce the rate of illegal overnight camping.

‘Council has worked with the community to reduce the frequency of illegal overnight camping in the Byron Shire by responding to resident complaints.

‘We thank the community for its support and will continue to work to ensure amenity is protected’.

Mr James also assured the community that people who are homeless, or for some other reason may be sleeping in their car, are not targeted when officers are regulating illegal street camping.

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  1. Whilst these campers can be a nuisance the fact remains that many backpacker style travellers can not afford to pay $35 or more a night when in the country on limited funds. We pay up to $75 a night for a piece of grass in a caravan park during some holidays and I can certainly see why these travellers try to avoid these charges. Some outback towns charge only $7 a night as they want these travellers but of course if you have an iconic location like Baron Bay they will want to see these places too. Perhaps we need to make sure that visitors to our country have sufficient funds to support themselves before allowing them In?

  2. I’m not worried about the tourists that stay in their kombi vans, it’s the ones that set up for months on end in the bushes at the back of Lawson street that concern me.

  3. Interestingly these people don’t camp out of town, preferring the likes of Belongil etc.
    Not only do they want free camping but they want to be right in town or on the beach!!!

  4. What an indictment of the petty-minded me-first,snout in the trough attitude that pervades Byron.
    The poor can be fined for being there ! I truly believe the atmosphere has deteriorated immensely since the times, I remember, when it was a whaling town. It was an embarrassment to the state then, and still is.

  5. Maybe they should drive in and out of town then, camping out in the bush. The cost of petrol is probably less than a caravan site and definitely a lot less than a fine.
    Mind you, surely 3 Germans can afford to stump up $35 a night between them. If they can’t afford that why are they allowed into the country as tourists?

  6. When will they start handing out $500 a night fines for illegal holiday letting and noisy parties at legal holiday residences. One law for some another for others.

  7. There are many free camping sites in the region, and reasonably priced facilities as well. It takes but a small effort to discover where they are.
    Perhaps council can make an extra effort to make sure this information is more easily accessible.
    If these folks come here without sufficient funds that is a choice they made. I have encountered many Europeans who do not treat our country with respect, dedicating in the streets, littering etc.
    Behaving in ways they would never consider at home. Eurotrash.
    These fines are long overdue, keep up the good work.
    If tourists do not have sufficient funds, then let them stay at home, we don’t need them or their bad manners.

  8. Byron Shire council owns the now closed South Byron treatment works land.
    I hear talk of selling it of for housing,a one off bonus for the ratepayers.
    Instead it could be a primitive camp ground. Already there is sewer connections to the site and a large grassy area very close to tallow beach.
    We have no primitive camp grounds in the area ,other places do.
    It would take very little infrastructure to get this going. Many primitive camp grounds have a council officer visit to collect fees clean toilets ,shower etc once a day so there may not need to be a full time live in manager which would keep cost low.
    Something like $10.00 a night and a restricted stay time of say 2weeks max could be an answer to the street camper problem and keep a revenue flow going well into the future for rate payers instead of a one of sell of for housing.


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