C’wealth Games blamed for spike in illegal camping

Camper vans and a caravan parked illegally in Mullumbimby’s Heritage Park. Photo Jodie Ewin/Facebook

Byron Shire Council says a recent spike in illegal camping in areas like Mullumbimby’s Heritage Park could be due to people being moved on from the Gold Coast ahead of the impending Commonwealth Games.

Describing it a ‘very complex and challenging issue’ the council’s Sustainable Environment and Economy Director Shannon Burt said there had been ‘an increase in illegal camping and the number of homeless people in the Byron Shire [recently] and this could be a result of people leaving the Gold Coast area which is preparing for the Commonwealth Games.’

She added the council ‘understands the frustrations that residents have with respect to illegal camping in the Byron Shire’.

‘Byron Shire may well be one of the most popular tourist destinations in New South Wales but people forget we are a small, regional council and illegal camping is one of the many ‘enforcement’ challenges we are dealing with on a daily basis,’ Ms Burt said.

‘Enforcement staff patrol the shire every day targeting illegal camping and areas like Heritage Park at Mullumbimby, as well as Brunswick Heads and Byron Bay, are routinely visited,’ she said.

‘I encourage people to contact us or use the “Report It” function on our website to notify us of illegal camping problems in their neighbourhood.

‘This is a practical way our community can help us as it provides a clearer picture of what is actually happening out there,’ Ms Burt said.

Heritage park a no-go zone

But the woman who raised the issue of partying tourists in camper vans taking over Mullumbimby’s Heritage Park said her family and neighbours ‘rarely see council officers down there’.

Jodie Ewin told Echonetdaily that both she and her father had used the ‘report it’ facility multiple times, without a response.

Only after one particularly bad night – when her father and a neighbour rang the council and she took to Facebook with their concerns – did council visit, she said.

Ms Burt said council officers ‘do the best with the resources we have but we simply aren’t able to be everywhere at once.’


‘Illegal campers are not contributing much to the local economy and in fact, cost the council and the community money, because we have to clean up after them when they dump their rubbish and leave,’ she acknowledged.

She added that Byron Shire ‘also has a problem with homelessness, which is a social issue and this is often confused with illegal camping’.

‘This is a very complex and challenging issue which involves not just council, but other agencies as well,’ she said,’ Ms Burt said.

2 responses to “C’wealth Games blamed for spike in illegal camping”

  1. Michele Grant says:

    amazing lack of empathy from local residents – many “homeless” people used to rent properties before they became unaffordable or converted into Air B&B’s! We always seem to have money for massive new stadiums to play games, but no one can come up with a solution for the housing crisis – which effects a huge number of older women residents. They may not be partying in the parks but they’re out there. Homeless people and travelling nomads have every right to set up camp on public lands and sleep in their vehicles – where else do you expect them to go?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Become a supporter of The Echo

A note from the editorial team

Some of The Echo’s editorial team: journalists Paul Bibby and Aslan Shand, editor Hans Lovejoy, photographer Jeff Dawson and Mandy Nolan

The Echo has never underestimated the intelligence and passion of its readers. In a world of corporate banality and predictability, The Echo has worked hard for more than 30 years to help keep Byron and the north coast unique with quality local journalism and creative ideas. We think this area needs more voices, reasoned analysis and ideas than just those provided by News Corp, lifestyle mags, Facebook groups and corporate newsletters.

The Echo is one hundred per cent locally owned and one hundred per cent independent. As you have probably gathered from what is happening in the media industry, it is not cheap to produce a weekly newspaper and a daily online news service of any quality.

We have always relied entirely on advertising to fund our operations, but often loyal readers who value our local, independent journalism have asked how they could help ensure our survival.

Any support you can provide to The Echo will make an enormous difference. You can make a one-off contribution or a monthly one. With your help, we can continue to support a better informed local community and a healthier democracy for another 30 years.”

Echonetdaily is made possible by the support of all of our advertisers and is brought to you by this week's sponsors Vast Furniture & Homewares Ballina and Falls Festival Byron Bay.