QUEENSLAND NATIONAL PARKS CAMPING PERMITS
by Barry Jackson
Back from a fantastic Cape trip.....with the exception of the NP booking fiasco
Below is my response to the Premier and Minister for Tourism
Thanks for your book and e-mail advice, but we won't return to Qld until the NP camping fiasco is resolved
QUEENSLAND NATIONAL PARKS CAMPING PERMITS
We have recently returned home from three months away, mainly in Queensland, in our Land Cruiser towing a Tvan. In general we had a wonderful time exploring from Birdsville (after crossing the Simpson Desert) to the Gulf country, then the Tablelands, and a month in the Cape.
However I must express my shock/ horror/ dissatisfaction with the ridiculous pre-paid e-permit National Park booking fiasco. This outrage is shared by the majority of fellow travellers we met on our journey. Many will just vote with their feet and simply not return, and some like us will write with their opinion of the “system”. I trust you will take my comments as constructive, and review this inappropriate approach.
The problems are:
1. As nomadic travellers, we can’t be sure when we will be at a particular place, and for how long we may stay. Weather, road conditions, breakdown, health, travel times, refuelling/resupplying/washing, co-ordinating with others, or just how we feel on any day can influence our travel plans and needs, so we can’t always book to meet the system.
2. National Parks are generally in areas where there is no mobile or internet reception, exacerbating the issue of this “book ahead mentality”.
3. From my personal experience, the booking website is slow, and far from user friendly, so I reverted to ringing, where long phone delays often occur. The booking kiosks at Ranger Stations are often far away from the NP anyway. The Rangers, understandably, are rarely at the station, or campsite to help resolve “issues”.
4. The fixed campsites with bollards to herd us in like sheep instead of being allowed to “free range”, means the number of campers that can stay at each NP is drastically reduced. I don’t go to a NP to be herded away from other campers. Responsible campers will keep a discreet distance from each other unless camping in groups when we choose to “circle the wagons” in close proximity for our mutual benefit and socialisation. Have a look at how the Grove at Adel’s Grove works to see how many campers are in close proximity to each other, with harmony in each other’s company.
5. As a crude response to your system, we came across many travellers prepared to book five nights over a period they expected to be at the NP, only ever intending to stay two or three, but unable to be sure of exactly when they could arrive or leave. You would be thrilled to have many popular NP’s fully booked and paid for, BUT in the NP’s we stayed at, none was fully occupied, leaving other campers disgruntled. We have anecdotal evidence from other travellers, and personal experience, of arriving at a booked site to find it taken with a disgruntled camper who was so frustrated with the system that we were told “too bad, I’m not moving and not paying!” For example, nomads attempting Frenchman’s Track have little idea when they can make it safely across, but one group took up residence at Chilli Beach without permit or payment only to be confronted by “legal” campers. On this occasion, non-paying or registering campers moved, but still camped without paying, being “vocal” about the stupidity of the system.
6. All of these issues occurred on the Cape, with Elliot Camp Ground being the worst offender, and the most popular! But on our way home we had a long day and detoured to Porcupine Gorge, a NP we had visited a few years ago and loved, only to be confronted by the same stupid e-permit sign in a campground that once would never have been filled. But more and more and more bollards to herd the sheep into their allocated pens and two sat phone calls to legally secure the last tent only site for our camper-trailer, when 30% of the sites were not occupied, and four of the sites we were told were not booked had “non-paying” disgruntled campers in residence. Are you starting to get my drift? Sat phone charges $34, camp fees $12.60!!!!!!!
7. The Park Rangers and the local tourist operators are dismayed with a system that will spell the end to Queensland tourism. We will certainly never return to Queensland for any tour that should include NP’s.
1. Immediately rescind the current NP booking system.
2. Remove all the sheep pen bollards in NP’s and allow campers to work with each other to camp in harmony with each other under a paid “NP Camps Pass” and honour system as occurs in SA & WA. An honesty box will be complied with by 99% of campers, and pride & responsibility for leaving no footprint is returned to campers.
3. Introduce a “Camp Volunteer” system for the most popular NP’s , as in WA. You will be swamped with congenial and responsible volunteers, as they are in WA.
4. Give some conciliatory responsibility back to the Park Rangers. We have only good things to say about the Park Rangers we met. They are suffering the same frustrations we the campers are, and are burdened by this unworkable system.
5. Rescind the “nanny state” mentality of the bureaucrats, and return the wonder of our NP’s to the people who actually own them and have (mistakenly) handed over the management to them.
I am a responsible but disgruntled nomad, eager to explore our nations natural wonders, especially in our treasured National Parks, but am angered by the unworkable system currently in place in Queensland National Parks, and will not return to spend our tourist dollar in Queensland until the current e-permit booking system is abandoned, and the right to camp in OUR National Parks is returned.
I am not anonymous, and my account is in the name of Barry Jackson, where I have made bookings at Kalpower Crossing (5 - 355713), Captain Billy Landing 362914), Elliot (8 – 364045)….tried for 2 weeks prior for1-3 nights without luck, but we finally scrounged 1 night on a site (that would take 3 campers with no other sites in sight…ridiculous)….guess what around 30% vacancy on a night “fully booked” .Then Chilli Beach (9 – 364390), and Porcupine Gorge….too frustrated to keep details.
I would be disappointed with no response, but more disappointed with a defensive…toe the line response that ignores the concerns of Australian travellers, who will vote with their feet if what we have experienced continues.
Yours Sincerely…….and I mean it
Barry & Denise Jackson