Private-land free camping gets mayor’s nod
COFFS Harbour Mayor Denise Knight has given her blessing to free camping on private land, as long as campers do not encroach on adjoining public land.
The mayor, who has been battling to get free campers off public beachside reserves, said she had no problem with free campers staying on private property, if landholders gave permission and the campers could do so legally.
"It really has not come up before, but if locals are happy about it, I don't have a problem with it."
"Go for it."
The mayor said she saw providing toilets and costs as among potential problems for private landholders.
The owners of the subscription-based Youcamp.com website are campaigning for local councils to allow limited camping on private property for self-contained recreational vehicles.
They would like to see councils create a new category of approvals for minimal-facilities camping.
Youcamp.com already lists properties that provide camp sites with low or no fees.
The co-owner of Youcamp.com, journalist and author James Woodford, said using the private sector would get free campers out of council car parks and beach reserves, while encouraging them to spend their money locally.
He said there needed to be some controls and standards, but a survey of local councils around Australia had shown a "total hodgepodge" of regulations.
"We don't want people digging holes willy-nilly for toilets, but these campers just need a very basic shower, a picnic table, a fireplace and something like a composting toilet," Mr Woodford said.
Coffs Harbour-based insurance broker Les Oxford, of Insurance Advisernet Australia, said campers staying on private land would be covered by the landholders' public liability insurance as long as the landholder had home and contents insurance and no money changed hands.
If the landholder charged a fee for the campsite, the landholder would need home-stay liability under a rural cover, Mr Oxford said.
A number of Coffs Coast landholders are among those who have listed on Youcamp, including Janelle Robb, whose Robbindell property at Mole Creek on the Eastern Dorrigo offers the extra benefits of gold prospecting and a trackside view of the international car rally.
"It goes right past our front gate," Ms Robb said.
"The best view of the Shipmans stage of the rally is from my front veranda."
Ms Robb lives in the home that belonged to her late parents, who operated George's Goldmine.
"I joined (Youcamp) about 12 months ago, mainly to get people up the mountain," Ms Robb said.
"We have a prospecting background and I wanted to show people another side of Coffs Harbour."
She said she now charged campers $10.
"If you don't charge, they will throw money at you anyway," Ms Robb said.
"People don't understand the concept of sharing any more, especially people from the city. They think if it's free, there must be a catch."