Pack up your van and take a cruise up the coast – it was the ideal surfer and hippy experience that allowed you to explore new areas, towns, and byways. But the impact of travellers camping overnight is no longer a low-impact travel option. Communities up and down the east cost of Australia are struggling to cope with travellers who don’t want to pay overnight camping fees or who profess they want to ‘get back to nature’ and it has only been exacerbated by the COVID pandemic and border closures.
Tweed Shire Council has been bringing in a range of overnight parking restrictions both in Tweed Heads and down the Tweed Coast Road. But this has caught local fisherfolk, who fish at various spots down the coast, in the parking fine net.
‘A lot more people are coming to this area rather than travelling to Gold Coast and they are parking [overnight] in some of our most popular tourist spots,’ Mayor Chris Cherry (Independent) told last Thursday’s council meeting.
‘Unintentionally we have caught up parts of our fisher community, who do go out at night, and then they are in danger of getting fines at these times. We’ve been asked if we can find a solution for the fishing clubs.’
Responding to the issue Tweed Shire Councillors resolved on a motion to introduce ‘a new permit system on a 12 month trial basis for members of Tweed Shire fishing clubs to provide them with exemption from the signposted ‘no parking zone’ along Tweed Coast Road at Pottsville.’
$50 too much
The initial recommendation for the permit was $50 however, Mayor Cherry told the meeting that ‘I believe that is too much to ask our pensioners pay. To much to ask for a freedom they had before that’
Mayor Cherry recognised that there would be a cost to Council for the administration of the permit but felt this should be ‘a nominal fee’.
The suggestion of a $20 fee was accepted by the with all councillor’s apart from Cr Warren Polglase (Conservative) voting in favour of the motion.
A report will be brought back to Council before the end of the 12 month trial in order to determine whether to support an extension of the permit system.
Other beach users
Similar issues of access to beaches for locals who like an early morning walk, fish, or surf, while the overnight and early morning parking restrictions are in place, have also been raised in Byron Shire. However, no such permit has been forthcoming for Byron Shire residents.
Speaking to The Echo Mayor Cherry said that, ‘Ttis is a 12-month trial. While there are not that many people who want to walk on the beach before 5am I’d be very open to the possibility of a permit for other beach users, for example horse riders, who might need access to the beach during the no parking times.