Caravan park row: Goose and gander?


Kay Eade
If travelers do not want to stay in a conventional caravan park, and have no alternative, do we lose their business?
This question is being posed by Kay Eade (pictured), Executive Officer of the Chamber of Commerce NT, in the wake of a national controversy over the closure of the Blatherskite Park to motorhome and caravan tourists.
At the moment the park is available for “event based camping” only, says its manager, Rob Merry.
Tourism Central Australia says the park is “currently uncompliant”.
It seems it is good enough for people attending an event to camp there, but not for individual travelers. Mr Merry was unable to cast light on this. We have requested a call from Kate Freestone, chairperson of the trust which manages the NT Government-owned park.
Meanwhile Ms Eade says it’s a matter of choice: “Some people who travel in motorhomes would prefer the unstructured sites as they do not have to share the park with families, and camp on small confined allotments.
“Because of the lack of services provided, I’d argue that they should be paying a lesser charge.
“I do appreciate the concerns from parks that they have more overheads to cover because they offer premium service, and charge higher prices, as you think they should.
“The various caravan parks around town do vary in price, again depending on the services provided.  This also applies in accommodation houses, you pay for what you get.
“I travel quite often through regional Australia, and notice that the majority of small towns offer free sites in a designated area to ensure the town captures the tourist dollar.
“Towns that prohibit motorhomes camping in undesignated sites, appear empty of tourists walking the streets to buy supplies and visiting tourist attractions.
“Blatherskite Trust is in a precarious situation.  It is a government-owned facility, and funds are given to the trust to operate and maintain the property on the government’s behalf.  The funds allocated are insufficient to maintain this property, hence they are looking at ways to make the park sustainable.”


  1. It is about level playing fields.
    Are facilities the equivalent that caravan parks are required to have?
    Do they pay the same rates as a caravan park?
    Is their council / Territory zoning applicable?
    Any camping etc. that is not in a regulated caravan park is basically subsidised by the ratepayers and citizens of the area. It costs to have free camping and cheap camping. Rubbish, water, toilet facilities.

  2. Groan. Level playing field! What rot, Dave!
    We must cater to all classes of traveler or we lose them, simple as that!
    The fact we haven’t got a solid plan for budget RV travelers is crazy.
    Just like how all the backpacker joints getting closed down because its more profitable for them to be redeveloped as units.
    What absurd policy or lack thereof is enabling this to happen?
    In my opinion it is the CLP-aligned dinosaurs sitting on council and local boards to further their own interests that is half to blame. The red-tape-when-it-suits-them brigade are killing this town. Talk about a sense of entitlement!

  3. I know that businesses will miss out on tourist dollars if Blatherskite Park (or the equivalent) is not reinstated.
    Because I, along with many others fellow travelers, find that local caravan parks are charging for services that we only require occasionally.
    We want freedom of choice.
    In all States (except for NT), there are what are called “Dollar Wise” caravan parks, an incentive driven by CMCA, where caravan parks provide an area an for no more than $10 a night.
    These sites may or may not have services, as agreed to by the managers of participating parks.
    It is a Win/Win/Win situation for caravan parks / tourists / businesses. Why not try it? You have much to gain.

  4. Tax payers should not have to fund people’s holidays. There is funding available for upgrading Blatherskite but I am told they never applied for it. Perhaps the situation they find themselves in is of their own making.

  5. What’s stopping the park management from adhering to whatever regulations apply to existing parks and becoming compliant? If Ms Eade is correct and it is truly cheaper due to “lack of services”, then that will surely be reflected in the price they charge.
    However, if compliance is where a portion of the savings are, then the existing parks would appear to have reasonable grounds to complain.
    I’m guessing that the cost of ablution facilities are the issue, but surely the elected government can have a crack at working through this.

  6. What bizarre reverse logic are you guided by Steve!?
    Blatherskite detected a gap in the marketplace and filled it.
    In effect they were acting intelligently as a public institution and set up a side enterprise to ensure that they were LESS reliant on our taxpayer dollars!
    And to highlight your hypocrisy, in the next sentence you blame the park because they didn’t apply for more grant funding!
    Please tell me you don’t hold a position of influence in our community!
    If we want our community assets and institutions to survive and thrive, we need to have clear and fair agreements in place that take into consideration their contribution to the well-being and betterment of our town.
    If this funding agreement is not sufficient to cover their costs can you blame them for seeking to unlock the value of their asset and try and generate some income?

  7. Thanks to all of the wonderful people who understand that just because one low cost facility is currently closed, that doesn’t mean there aren’t plenty of others that people can go to.
    Alice Springs and the Red Centre have plenty of low cost camping stops, including pet friendly ones.
    All you need to do is get in touch with the team at the Alice Springs Visitor Information Centre ( or 1800 645 199) to find out more.

  8. Dave says: “Any camping etc. that is not in a regulated caravan park is basically subsidised by the ratepayers and citizens of the area. It costs to have free camping and cheap camping. Rubbish, water, toilet facilities.”
    Well Dave, Blathescite Park is still there, and NOT being subsidised by the “would be” travellers, which would ease financial pressures on Government.
    Personally, I think the sentence should end after the word rubbish.
    PS.: A friend has just traveled through Alice, and refused to pay the $37+ for one night, camping elsewhere, and then traveling on.
    He only stays in caravan parks as a last resort. He prefers more open spaces.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here