The one that was supposed to be an update but turned into a rant!

Without doubt Tasmania is a state which boasts some of the best free or budget camping available within the entire country – and the bonus is that most of these places come with incredible views.

The agricultural  town of Scottsdale provided one of our favourite ‘free’ camps so far. It was a great base to explore the surrounding area, including a Forest EcoCentre or even a half day walk to the top of Mount Stronach, should you so desire. The camp itself is located at the town’s ‘people park’ and includes a duck pond, frog pond, playground, board walks, free barbecues and gold coin showers.

Stanley nestled away behind the duck pond at Scottsdale

Stanley nestled away behind the duck pond at Scottsdale

We are becoming big fans of towns, like  Scottsdale, who provide RV friendly facilities. We also believe that it is such a savvy  move for these towns to provide these facilities – for use by both locals and visitors. Being able to save on camp fees (we made sure to leave some money in the donation box) allowed us to support some of the local businesses with our custom.  Share the love (or money in this case) is a motto of ours. Of course, travellers are likely to spend more time (money) in places they feel welcome.

This is a stark contrast to the experience we had further along the coast at George Town, via Bridport and Anderson Bay.

After checking out the town, including driving out to Low Head, we called into the Information Centre to enquire about their camping facilities, as were listed in our Camps Australia Wide Book. The ladies in the centre didn’t even look up as we entered and one of them only got out of her chair after we stood at the help desk for a while. Upon enquiring about the possibility of camping outside  we were  told that they no longer allowed campers to stay.

Fair enough.

The lady that couldn’t even be bothered to get out of her chair then proceeded to lecture us that it wasn’t fair on the owners of the nearest caravan park for us (or anyone) to want to camp at the information centre, even for a small fee. She continued, pointing out that  the caravan park owners had to pay land rates and insurance fees and maintain the park and these costs needed to be recouped from travellers.

I could feel my cheeks burning  as she was talking to me and I felt like a naughty little child. We were then offered the opportunity to park in the car park after all, at a cost of $12 a night but for no facilities –  they locked the toilets when they closed the centre for the day.

It was a bit of a no brainer that we didn’t opt for this very kind offer!

Walking back to the car I was a little stunned (but unfortunately for Paul had not been rendered totally  speechless). In fact, I found the way we had been spoken to totally offensive. Had we simply been told that camping at the centre was no longer available it is likely that we would have gone to the caravan park in question overnight anyway.

Instead we couldn’t get out of there fast enough.

A family of five travelling Australia is not without their own overheads.  Ours, for example, have included car and caravan registrations – as well as insurances, roadside assistance costs, diesel (oh, the diesel), car and caravan maintenance (Paul is pedantic about our servicing schedule), new tyres for both vehicles, National Park Fees, road tolls, tourist destination fees, food bills (our kids all have hollow legs), medical/dental costs and the list goes on.

In addition to these we also have our house in Perth generating its own expenses. This includes not only the mortgage but also land rates, water rates, property management fees, maintenance costs, building insurance, landlords insurance etc.

Of course when we decided to travel Australia we were fully aware of all of these costs, thus we worked bloody hard to save as much as we could before hitting the road. In fact, some weeks we barely saw Paul as he was not only working long hours, he was also doing work for people in return for goods or services to help get us on the road.

Where possible we tried to pay 12 months up front for insurances and registrations. We also ensured we had put aside enough money to cover the shortfall between mortgage payments, property management/maintenance and rental income costs  for 12 months.

We made the choice to travel and undertook this adventure with our eyes fully open. Our travels are self-funded. Most people on the road can say the same BUT there are also some who travel our great land, blatantly, on the back of other tax payers (that’s a whole other rant). With the effort it has taken to get on (and stay on) the road we reserve the right to seek cost saving alternatives if available.

Additionally, since being on the road we consider ourselves to have been responsible campers. We have never parked in areas where camping is not allowed, have never left rubbish behind, always put something in donation boxes and help other travellers when we can.

We consider travelling Australia a privilege not a right.

For it to be implied that wanting to save some money on camping fees was somehow inappropriate is totally out-of-order. We have stayed in excess of 50 caravan parks during our travels and have spent thousands of dollars supporting local businesses throughout the country. The reality is we cannot financially support EVERY business , be it a caravan park or other.

It is incredibly ironic that in this instance the very people responsible for welcoming and helping visitors instead managed to completely alienate us. Businesses that may have benefited (even slightly) from us passing through, ultimately missed out on our custom.

George  Town and Low Head are both places worthy of visiting (we would have liked to stay longer) with plenty on offer for tourists including a penguin rookery, maritime museum, light house and York Cove. Plenty of information about this area is available online and even at nearby Information Centres but seriously folks, give the George Town one a miss.

Lowhead Light House

Lowhead Light House

Water tank mural at George Town

Water tank mural at George Town

Penguin Rookery at Low Head

Penguin Rookery at Low Head

*dismounts high-horse*

I realise that having the above rant has now put me even further behind in getting up to date with the posts but feel the need to document the good with the bad. In years to come when we look back through our story it can’t just be about the places we have visited and Paul’s shortcomings can it now?!

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14 responses to “The one that was supposed to be an update but turned into a rant!

  1. well said! your comparisons to the “overheads” of a traveller (or travelling family) to that of a caravan park are so true and i never really looked at it like that before. We saved very hard also and made some big adjustments so we could travel this great country, its not cheap!!!! so we take any opportnity we can to save a few $$$ but usually the dollars saved end up going into the local bakery, butcher, servo, gift shop, supermarket etc etc. And we dont have a problem with that one bit- its nice to feel that you have helped out a business in a town that welcomes you.
    Being made feel like you cant free camp/budget camp in a town all because there is a caravan park there is like saying you cant bake your own bread because there is a bakery up the road!!!! we are losing more and more options each day- its about time business chambers and councils wake up and realise the $$$ stimulus us travellers bring in!
    good on you for sharing.

    *****also dismounts high-horse*****

  2. Dearie me, Helen – that was terrible and I hope you have sent an email with a link to this blog post to the good people at said Information Centre…perhaps include some data on your ‘views’ statistics! Some people really should be nowhere near the tourist industry!!

  3. Our council have the same opinion as these people unfortunately and have just put up a bunch of NO CAMPING signs around the town. I agree 100% with your ‘rant’ and also a member of the business association can say that they, the local businesses the association represent, also feel that the council need to remove the signs and are trying hard to do so. I will be linking this page for more people to see the opinion of a full time traveler!

    • Someone else described this kind of thinking by councils as flawed logic and I think that is the perfect term. In reality I believe that even a 24 or 48 hr campsite might be all that is needed in many cases. A lot of people are self contained, so toilets may not be necessary (although certainly handy) making the place low maintenance for councils. What camper doesn’t need a litre of milk, loaf of bread (or in our case carton of beer) most days? I’m sure each $ spent in a town is needed and appreciated – they all add up over a year. Also, word of mouth is a powerful thing and travellers know which places to stop in or just drive through. Budget/free camping can be beneficial to both towns and travellers (who of course need to respect these places) alike. Good luck Sarah, go get ’em!

  4. Olga Vecchiati-Peck

    I wonder if that lady at the information centre owned the caravan park. Gee, that is no way to speak to a person, be it tourist or local. I used to volunteer at a visitor centre, and if I spoke to anyone like that, I can guarantee you, I would be given a very severe lecture and shown the door. I doubt very much I would have been welcome back again. Visitor centres in Tasmania are usually run by the council so perhaps you could make a complaint to the Georgetown Council It would be handy if you had the ladies names too. I am really sorry you had to experience that, because we Tasmanians usually proud ourselves on being friendly. I hope you never experience anything like it again.

    • Hi Olga, hope you are well. No need for apologies, as part of our travels we are prepared to take the good with the bad. Its all part of the fun! In no way was this one experience indicative of our Tassie travels. It is a wonderful place, filled with fantastic people. There is so much to offer in your tiny state, we just have to get more people over there to enjoy it.

  5. Hi, firstly I LOVE hearing about your travels, thanks for a wonderful blog! My friend and I, and my two boys travel a bit on weekends in his 4wd all over Victoria, I have a 30ft van but she’s a bit big for weekending so we leave her in a caravan park. On a number of our trips we have encountered rude people in the tourism industry and it does put a dampener on the whole place. When we travel properly when my two boys are a liitle older we will avoid those places which is sad for the rest of the town. It always amazes me just WHY people who clearly can’t be bothered with other people work or volunteer in tourism……..

    • Thanks Owl Lover, we enjoying sharing our travels. A 30ft van, wow, sounds like a doozy!I bet good times are ahead when the boys are old enough. What you are saying is so true. The people in places you visit really do have such an influence. It is easy to see that for some it is just a job but for others it’s a passion. We have met some gems. We recently walked up Mt Gambier and met the perfect man for the job in welcoming visitors. His knowledge and obvious love for the area was fantastic and we learned so much from him, he was a walking, talking encyclopedia!

  6. Hello Hels – so well said! I passed the link to this particular blog onto the Manager of the Visitor’s Centre in our little town and had a chance to discuss it with her… she agreed with all your views and we both heartily agreed that we hoped that never happened in our little slice of heaven. Speaking of which, glad to hear you are where you are and love to see all of you soon.
    All our love, S, G, L, J & B xxx

    • Hiya Shaz. You and the mentioned Manager would be pleased to hear that a fellow traveller camped in your little slice of heaven a number of months ago. They loved the town and it even got a mention on their own blog! A prime example of someone getting it right. I don’t know if Bill told you or not but we were within about 100 km of him recently. We had a quick chat on the phone and made sure to wave at the turnoff. I think he was on his way to catch a flight home. How funny that we find ourselves ‘down the road’ from your old stomping ground!

  7. That is very rude of the ladies! There is no need to speak like that to anyone 🙂

    We encounted something like that on the weekend. We went to Clemont to purhcase a gold detector from the supplier that is in town. First up we went to the Gem Fest ~ where the said company was! The lady behind the desk could not smile at us, we couldnt get a pen that worked from her, and the paper work was “Too Hard” for her! Then we heard that four other people were also going to buy a gold detector but because of her lack of customer sefvice, they all decided not to!

    What ever happened to giving good customer service? Doesnt take too much to smile and be polite!

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