Welcome to RV Daily

Are you hungry for the latest in RV news, reviews and travel?

At RV Daily, we’ll give you up-to-date news, reviews and videos on the latest caravans, campers and motorhomes.

Free Camping – The Return of Rockhampton’s Kershaw Gardens

When Rockhampton Council was forced to close the free camp at Kershaw Gardens it was seen as a blow to the free-camping movement. Now, thanks to a successful new planning application, things look much brighter.

Kershaw Gardens, Rockhampton’s big backyard, is 50 hectares of picturesque parkland in the city’s central north. Originally conceived as a botanic garden, the park is famous for its abundant native plants and its network of walking trails. It is a wonderful central location in Rocky in which to enjoy parties, small events and outdoor activities. It’s hard to imagine this slice of heaven was once a landfill site.

Today, Kershaw Gardens is famous for a completely different reason. Ever since the council opened up a small free camp at the north end of the park, it has become the epicentre of a free camping war between local councils wanting to boost tourism to their towns and caravan park owners desperately trying to protect their livelihoods. 

Opened by the council in 2014, the free camp was large enough to comfortably accommodate around 30 caravans and motorhomes. Situated close to shops, restaurants and entertainment, it became a popular stopover for grey nomads passing through Rocky on their annual northerly migration to tropical Far North Queensland. Stays were limited to a maximum of 48 hours and only fully self-contained RVs were permitted in the camp. This was strictly monitored and controlled by local council rangers who regularly patrolled the area. 


NEWS Free Camping

WORDS MARTY LEDWICH, IMAGES MARTY LEDWICH AND WES WHITWORTH

Not long after the free camp was opened, caravan parks in the area started to report a drop in patronage and laid the blame squarely at the council’s feet. They complained to their peak body, the Caravan Parks Association of Queensland (CPAQ) that, in December 2017, took Rockhampton Regional Council and the Queensland Government to the Planning and Environment court alleging “ the use of an area known as Kershaw Gardens at Moores Creek Road, Park Avenue, Rockhampton, for free camping was unlawful and a development offence under the Planning Act 2016 (Qld) due to the absence of an effective development permit for the use”.


Judgment was passed on the November15, 2018 in favour of CPAQ and the council was instructed by the court to abolish the free camping area by February 15, 2019. Council was also directed to remove any signage pertaining to the free camp and advise the Campervan & Motorhome Club of Australia (CMCA) that camping would no longer be permitted at Kershaw Gardens. 

The decision brought a swift reaction from the caravan and motorhome community with many taking to social media and caravanning forums to voice their opposition to the decision. One disgruntled caravanner echoed the sentiments of many others posting, “This move, even the taking of legal action, and its outcome, certainly makes me, and I assume many other touring campers, feel very unwelcome in this area. I wouldn’t feel welcome in one of those caravan parks now run by hostile and greedy park owners or managers. Next time, while in that area, I will be passing straight through”.

Then in September 2019, sensing a financial backlash to their city, the council submitted a revised proposal for a ‘tourist park’ this time with restrictions including no cabins, tents or other similar structures as well as a ban on any ‘ancillary activities’.

On November 25, 2019, The Morning Bulletin reported the revised plans had been adopted by the council and were to commence on December 2, 2019. The changes to the zoning code superseded the court ruling and have been signed off by the Queensland government.

Rockhampton Mayor, Margaret Strelow, acknowledged that there were still ‘several hurdles to cross’ and, once completed, council would confirm that free camping could legally occur again at the Kershaw Gardens site. 

The conditions of stay would be similar to what they were previously. The site would be limited to 35 vehicles for a maximum stay of 48 hours each. RVs would have to be self-contained, meaning that they will need to be responsible for their own water supply, sink/shower, grey-water storage, toilet and rubbish removal. 

There’s been no word from the council on an anticipated opening date but it is expected to be early in the new year.

CPAQ general manager Michelle Weston told The Morning Bulletin that her organisation would continue to keep a close eye on developments and that she had written to the minister making it clear CPAQ will not be backing down from their opposition to the free camp.

Free camping at Kershaw Gardens was unlawful and constituted a development offence"

NEWS Free Camping

Free Camping – The Return of Rockhampton’s Kershaw Gardens

When Rockhampton Council was forced to close the free camp at Kershaw Gardens it was seen as a blow to the free-camping movement. Now, thanks to a successful new planning application, things look much brighter.

Kershaw Gardens, Rockhampton’s big backyard, is 50 hectares of picturesque parkland in the city’s central north. Originally conceived as a botanic garden, the park is famous for its abundant native plants and its network of walking trails. It is a wonderful central location in Rocky in which to enjoy parties, small events and outdoor activities. It’s hard to imagine this slice of heaven was once a landfill site.

Today, Kershaw Gardens is famous for a completely different reason. Ever since the council opened up a small free camp at the north end of the park, it has become the epicentre of a free camping war between local councils wanting to boost tourism to their towns and caravan park owners desperately trying to protect their livelihoods. 

Opened by the council in 2014, the free camp was large enough to comfortably accommodate around 30 caravans and motorhomes. Situated close to shops, restaurants and entertainment, it became a popular stopover for grey nomads passing through Rocky on their annual northerly migration to tropical Far North Queensland. Stays were limited to a maximum of 48 hours and only fully self-contained RVs were permitted in the camp. This was strictly monitored and controlled by local council rangers who regularly patrolled the area. 


WORDS MARTY LEDWICH, IMAGES MARTY LEDWICH AND WES WHITWORTH

Not long after the free camp was opened, caravan parks in the area started to report a drop in patronage and laid the blame squarely at the council’s feet. They complained to their peak body, the Caravan Parks Association of Queensland (CPAQ) that, in December 2017, took Rockhampton Regional Council and the Queensland Government to the Planning and Environment court alleging “ the use of an area known as Kershaw Gardens at Moores Creek Road, Park Avenue, Rockhampton, for free camping was unlawful and a development offence under the Planning Act 2016 (Qld) due to the absence of an effective development permit for the use”.


Judgment was passed on the November15, 2018 in favour of CPAQ and the council was instructed by the court to abolish the free camping area by February 15, 2019. Council was also directed to remove any signage pertaining to the free camp and advise the Campervan & Motorhome Club of Australia (CMCA) that camping would no longer be permitted at Kershaw Gardens. 

The decision brought a swift reaction from the caravan and motorhome community with many taking to social media and caravanning forums to voice their opposition to the decision. One disgruntled caravanner echoed the sentiments of many others posting, “This move, even the taking of legal action, and its outcome, certainly makes me, and I assume many other touring campers, feel very unwelcome in this area. I wouldn’t feel welcome in one of those caravan parks now run by hostile and greedy park owners or managers. Next time, while in that area, I will be passing straight through”.

Then in September 2019, sensing a financial backlash to their city, the council submitted a revised proposal for a ‘tourist park’ this time with restrictions including no cabins, tents or other similar structures as well as a ban on any ‘ancillary activities’.

On November 25, 2019, The Morning Bulletin reported the revised plans had been adopted by the council and were to commence on December 2, 2019. The changes to the zoning code superseded the court ruling and have been signed off by the Queensland government.

Rockhampton Mayor, Margaret Strelow, acknowledged that there were still ‘several hurdles to cross’ and, once completed, council would confirm that free camping could legally occur again at the Kershaw Gardens site. 

The conditions of stay would be similar to what they were previously. The site would be limited to 35 vehicles for a maximum stay of 48 hours each. RVs would have to be self-contained, meaning that they will need to be responsible for their own water supply, sink/shower, grey-water storage, toilet and rubbish removal. 

There’s been no word from the council on an anticipated opening date but it is expected to be early in the new year.

CPAQ general manager Michelle Weston told The Morning Bulletin that her organisation would continue to keep a close eye on developments and that she had written to the minister making it clear CPAQ will not be backing down from their opposition to the free camp.

Free camping at Kershaw Gardens was unlawful and constituted a development offence."