For many it is a way to have an authentic travelling experience but as the numbers of overnight tourist campers who are seeking a spot to stop for the night increases up and down the coast it is becoming an issue for locals, police, and councils.
Responding to the increased pressure of illegal camping Tweed Shire Council has introduced overnight parking restrictions at several areas in Tweed Heads ‘to combat an influx of campers in the area’ following a rise in complaints from residents.
The issue is one that affects the Northern Rivers region with Detective Chief Inspector, Officer in Charge – Byron Bay Police Station, Matt Kehoe informing Mullumbimby’s Chamber of Commerce meeting last Tuesday that there are a lot of illegal campers around in Byron Shire.
In Tweed the council have recently erected a number of new ‘no parking’ signs at popular tourist sites in the past week. Parking will be prohibited between 11pm and 5am, seven days a week, with the aim of preventing overnight camping in specific streets, including at:
- Intersection of Tweed Terrace and Boundary Street, Point Danger
- Unnamed road between Hill Street and Eden Street
- Boundary Street and carpark next to Twin Towns
- Bay Street outside Seascape Apartments and carpark opposite Chris Cunningham Park.
- Rangers will be patrolling the area and on-the-spot fines issued to anyone found parking in a restricted zone.
Mayor of Tweed Cr Chris Cherry said the new restrictions were introduced in response to rising community concerns and were designed to have minimal impact on local residents.
‘Council has received a steep rise in complaints from residents concerned about the number of overnight campers and lack of available parking around Point Danger, Duranbah Beach, Twin Towns and Jack Evans Boat Harbour,’ she said.
Help needed for homeless
‘We have two issues here – we have homelessness, which is a genuine concern in our Shire and we need state government help to urgently address this, and we have travellers who don’t feel like paying for their stay. It is the second group we are targeting with these changes.’
This point was also made by Detective Chief Inspector Kehoe who told the Mullumbimby Chamber that the police are working with the homeless who also use these areas for overnight accommodation and trying to assist them to get into permanent accommodation. Otherwise they ‘find that we are shifting problems from one place to another.’
Cr Cherry said the problem of illegal camping was not isolated to the Tweed.
‘Both our neighbouring councils in the Gold Coast and Byron Shire are experiencing similar problems with illegal campers and have also been forced to introduce measures to restrict overnight parking on public streets,’ she said.
‘There has been a noticeable improvement in the situation along our beaches since restrictions were put in place last October and Council will continue to consult with specific groups, such as fishing clubs and homelessness outreach programs, to minimise any impact to the community.
‘There will continue to be ample parking provided on public roads around Tweed Heads for those seeking access to popular beach and lookout locations between 11pm and 5am, and we are confident these restrictions will not adversely impact local residents or businesses,’ said Mayor Cherry.
To assist the public, Tweed Council have developed an interactive map that outlines the areas impacted by the changes which can be viewed by visiting the Tweed Council website.