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Byron Shire
July 16, 2024

Campers question Ballina Council management of Flat Rock Tent Park

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Bruce and Lyndell Redpath at Flat Rock Tent Park. Photo supplied

Visitors to the Ballina Shire and the Northern Rivers have contacted The Echo questioning the reason they have been excluded from the Flat Rock Tent Park between Lennox Head and Ballina. 

Lyndell and Bruce Redpath told The Echo that they had been visiting Flat Rock for six  years, they book a year ahead, when they were contacted by the managers and told they could no longer access the facility with their camper trailer.

‘We find it difficult to understand that large buses, expedition trucks and motor homes such as Winnebagos continue to be allowed which do not reflect tent type accomodation, yet we aren’t allowed in,’ said Bruce.

‘There appears to be discrimination against one type of accommodation (our vehicle which is self contained and smaller than large buses, expedition trucks and motor homes such as Winnebagos).’

Vans are allowed at Flat Rock Tent Park. Photo supplied

Not a ‘tent only’ site

Flat Rock Tent Park is owned by Ballina Shire Council (BSC) and managed on it’s behalf by on-site managers. It is totally unpowered and provides back-to-basics camping. 

‘Flat Rock Tent Park is, by its name and nature a “tent park” and has an “Approval to Operate” under Section 68 of the Local Government Act 1993,’ explained a spokesperson for Ballina Shire Council. 

‘The definition of a “camp site” within the Approval to Operate “means an area of land within a camping ground on which a campervan or tent may be installed and is designated as a camp site in the approval for the camping ground.” These definitions are also included in the Local Government (Manufactured Home Estates, Caravan Parks, Camping Grounds and Moveable Dwellings) Regulation 2021. Accordingly, campervans are permitted in Flat Rock Tent Park as are camper trailers which are box type trailers that can be opened up to create tent type accommodation.

Campsites at Flat Rock Tent Park. Photo supplied

‘The Flat Rock Tent Park approval does not permit caravans, pop top caravans or hybrid versions of this form of accommodation. Increasingly, there are many variations of pop-top caravans produced and marketed as “pop campers”, “hybrids”, “pod campers” etc. that be opened up to create caravan-type accommodation, however, these are not permitted in the Park.’

Another former visitor to Flat Rock Tent Park, Ian Bannister, has also written to the BSC asking them to reconsider their policy as it is currently ‘confusing’ and ‘arbitrary’. 

‘We were regular users of the Flatrock “tent park” until new and confusing access criteria were arbitrarily introduced. I am writing now as we spent a week in Ballina and visited the “tent park” on our morning walks, every day it was nearly empty, circa ten visitors most days in a park that must cater for 100 or more sites,’ he said. 

‘May I respectfully make a simple suggestion for your consideration: campsites offer no power or water connections and are of a set size, so rather than selectively (and rather arbitrarily) decide one camper can stay and another can’t, all that needs to be done as a camping policy is to set a maximum vehicle size, I would suggest eight metres length, nothing more. In doing this the park use will be increased as will the income to Council and the ratepayer base will see benefit.’

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    • Most councils are overpaid thugs and do little for there residents. I agree some campers are despicable grubs and to lazy to to pick up there rubbish and take it with them. Please dont treat us all like grubs because they are the minority.

  1. I agree. We have been using FlatRock for many years & two years ago we bought a small 14’ hybrid camper. We used Flat Rock a couple of times then suddenly, on leaving, were informed that we were no longer welcome, as we had a caravan. There were only 5 vehicles using the campgrounds! Friends later sent us photos of BIG caravans in the park. There seems to be no consistency. I can only assume that the surrounding caravan parks either ban non-caravans (🤭) or “have the councils ear” (😱).

  2. A limit of 8 metres length might annoy a good number of the “expedition trucks”, as many of those exceed this length. We own such a truck, although it’s definitely under 8 metres long.
    But then again: such trucks usually only need space for one vehicle, not an 8 metre trailer PLUS a 5 metre tow vehicle. This should highlight how difficult it can be to establish any criteria.

  3. In these days of caravan parks having eco-tents, jumping castles, and water parks please leave the flat rock align. It should be reserved for back to basic tents only if you’ve got a caravan go to a caravan park.


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