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Byron Shire
May 7, 2021

Vanpackers ‘crapping’ in Byron Bay car park

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Vanpackers are ‘taking over’ the Rails car park in Byron Bay according to local residents and businesspeople. Photo supplied

Byron Bay residents and businesspeople are ‘crapped off’ by an ‘invasion’ of vanpackers who they say have set up an unofficial campsite on railway land in the centre of the town.

They say the travellers are taking advantage of a Catch 22 that prevents Byron Council rangers taking action against them in the car park adjacent to the Rails Hotel.

Local business owner Joy Barber Hua told Echonetdaily that ‘not only are the parking spaces for shoppers taken up by around 20 vans parked day and night but the campers are dumping rubbish and using the car park and surrounding business premises as a toilet.’

Crapping next to van

‘Just this morning I was confronted by human excrement by our back door together with used toilet paper. Last week there was excrement in the car park where a camper had clearly just decided to toilet by the side of their van.’

This is despite the fact that an Exceloo automatic toilet operates 24 hours a day just metres away in Railway Park.

‘We call the council and they say that as it’s railway land its not “council jurisdiction”, Ms Barber Hua said.

But she added that when she calls the company responsible for managing railway land, ‘they say there’s nothing they can do and to write to the minister for transport’.

‘I’m guessing that will be a waste of time,’ she said.

‘The police come out when there are disturbances and loud music but they should be focusing on better things I’m sure.

‘It seems that council and the railway company cannot agree on who should manage the car park (down to money?) and as a result it’s just been abandoned by both.

‘Word spreads quickly on forums that there’s free camping to be had and I’m despairing at how bad things will get as the summer gets busier,’ she said.

Ms Barber Hua thinks Byron Council should be working together with Transport for NSW ‘to make sure our town – where we pay rates – is safe for everyone’.

‘This car park is becoming a health hazard for everyone. I’m all for the hippy spirit but it’s anti social behaviour that council should be paying notice to and actually doing something about!’ she said.

Byron Shire Council was contactd for comment but was unable to respond by deadline.

 

 


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14 COMMENTS

  1. It seems strange that a meeting with Byron Council GM and the Mayor a short time back indicated to a group of market stall holders inspecting that area, stated that area joined with the Railway park and the parking area on the Lawson St side is an option for the markets to reside if and when the Bus Terminal goes to the Butler St Reserve. Funny how they get confused about what they own and control !!

    Byron Council could utilise the Cavanbah Centre Car Park area by relocatable showers and toilets in the car park and charge a moderate fee to stay over night.
    Rangers could patrol and collect the fees just like shires in QLD do and reap the benefits.
    Make it cheap enough and word will soon get around and make it work.

    • That is not fair on people who use the cavanbah sports centre at night for events or training, so it will never happen. I wouldn’t feel safe coming out at night and not knowing who was there also.

  2. How about community action. You know the thing that was once common in Byron. Say 50 to 100 residents turn up and politely tell them all to piss off and spread the word.

  3. Great for town to have visitor custom, the issue is not the visitors. Council could facilitate lease of the land, (peppercorn), contract management out, they can clamp wheels of any offenders until costs of facilities:toilet shower, management and cleaning paid.
    No Van packer would want a stoush.

  4. As most of the illegal campers are in Wicked ot Britz Juicy or some other high profile van rentals maybe council should canvass them and tell them about the issue and ask them to desist.

    • Those companies should give guidelines out but they probably wouldn’t be heard or read. The van life thing going on is all about telling people how to get around restrictions it seems, I wish that could all be stopped but it can’t be. We have 30 a night next to our property and they trash the place and there are no toilets there. It sounds like a horrible way to have your extended holiday. You have been getting booked for camping in your van up here for years – even in the 70s, way it is but now the council can’t keep up with the numbers. If they increased the fine that the van packers say is cheaper to receive here and there than paying the nightly fee at the camping ground – then we could fix our roads with all the money. Need to put rangers on at night outside of peak season. They do it on the northern beaches of Syd, why not here? I vote for the greens but not for council up here. It’s only approx. $50 a night for them to go to the camping grounds, they make out like it’s unaffordable…most holidays for the average person can only be a week due to costs, van packers want to float around here for months, living off two min noodles from Aldi. not contributing anything but blowing black smoke as they chug a long, with crap art painted on the side…. lots are not hire vans. The local petrol stations say they are mainly all rude and then some local businesses give them work!!!!!!!!! Why? Enough locals here looking for work. I knew a cafe where everyone working there was living in a van.

  5. the same thing happened in burringbar , but , the offender was an overnight camper , who stayed for weeks , basically being a disgusting mess , urinating in sight of kids catching the bus and crapping in the park and nearby trees , while a clean toilet and facilities were available right next to him … police were useless , as were council , and when the railways were contacted , they said it was illegal to camp there , their only action was to errect signs stating NO CAMPING … it was the community that held a meeting in the same place as the offender that finally got rid of him . it is unfortunate that the overnight camp spot has been lost .We have used them all the way to tasmania and they are a great asset to campers , BUT , the facilities are being abused , the poo and paper in these areas is COMPLETELY UNACCEPTABLE , even when toilets are right there , WHAT IS THE MENTALITY OF THESE FILTHY PIGS , i think australia should be educating all tourists about our standards , a simple video on the flight over and adds on the internet (that can’t be skipped) the youth don’t watch tv much , but it also could be used to educate people . DO THE RIGHT THING was a great campaign when we were young , time to DO IT AGAIN .

  6. Perhaps this is a symptom of a larger problem. It’s widely accepted that Byron’s economy is fuelled on holiday makers, tourists and backpackers. The majority of the hospitality and tourism jobs being worked by foreigners, however there is a huge lack of affordable housing. The minimal pay and hostel costs around the 350$+ per week over summer result in many of the travellers working well below minimum wage in work for accommodation agreements. If the council is serious about stopping illegal camping they need to do something about making Byron affordable or cracking down on the numerous employers that take advantage of these travellers.

  7. Yeah that kind of behaviour is unnaceptable but how do we know that indeed it was a camping person? Lets not have collective punishment for a really shitty human being – especially if we don’t know for sure it was a camper but regardless, lets say someone is staying in a hotel and then they go take a dump outside, should you punish the other hotel guests?

    I know most of the people staying there and they are good respectable people – if I had to guess, it was a homeless Druggie/alcoholic.

    The very essence of Byron Bay is the free, hippy like people – these people make Byron Bay Synonymous with awesomeness, otherwise it would be just another town for rich people to go do their shopping.

    It’s funny to be seeing all these “FIXING BYRON ROADS signs” that have been up for ages, doesn’t seem like the parking there is actually paying for any roads or fixes, I thought with the large influx of tourism, Byron wouldn’t need to get $4/h – 1.7 MILLION tourists per year…Lets say 1/4 of them had cars and stayed there for a week… Lets say during their week long stay, they paid a total of 20 hours of parking (less than 3 hours per day) – that’s 6.8Million dollars only in parking fees, not including all the taxes etc.

    I know that last point doesn’t have much to do with the crappy situation, just saying…where is all this money REALLY going?

    • That free hippy essence you speak of is now just a fake front for tourism and people coming here with their idea of what that means. Having been born and raised here, I can tell you that it has long lost it’s essence – everyone else I know from here feels the same. Perhaps you grew up here too but I’d be surprised that you think that is still here. I have 30 near my house and no, mustard rude and it’s only really the more mature Australians here and there that have manners and it’s been ruined for them to be honest. It is now a town full of rich people doing their shopping, with people in vans trying to milk the area – nothing hippy about that in a positive way, nothing helping the community… just a image that people fall for. Those fixing Byron sigs cost thousands of dollars to make… not a ‘sign’ of a wise move by the council. So may tourists don’t contribute to the area, excess numbers cause more problems than the money that goes to out of town investors get but the community doesn’t. The tourism argument is weak.

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