Monday, September 01, 2014

Town Councils that go the Extra Mile

The author's car and caravan at front

Like any organisation, town and city councils are only as good as the people who work there and members of the public who contribute. Burdekin Shire Council obviously has staff who dreamed up a unique idea that appealed to us and dozens of other grey nomad travellers and was probably done with a view to helping local shopkeepers, publicans etc increase their sales.

Caravans as far as the eye can see
You see, caravanners like to free camp occasionally. That is, instead of paying $30-$45 or more per night to stay in a caravan park, we like to pull up somewhere near a toilet block where we can stay for one or two nights at no cost. Across the country there are probably thousands of such places, but I haven't seen one as well planned as that at Home Hill, Queensland.

Home Hill's main street is on the Bruce Highway, the main highway servicing Queensland between Brisbane and Cairns and perhaps farther north. Running parallel with the Bruce Highway, two streets west is a long, wide, nicely bitumenised road along which the council encourages travellers to park and stay for up to two nights. The encouragement comes in the shape of a well designed, attractive, comfort stop building with toilets, showers, a free electric barbecue and tables and bench seats. It's all very well done and immaculately clean and maintained.

Caravans and RVs line half the street
The only undesirable feature is that a railway line also runs parallel with the free camping street and while we were there, a few trains rumbled by late at night, making a great noise ... one with sparks flying out from the wheels, which was entertaining. However, when you sleep at free camp spots they are often near main roads and other places where there is traffic, so you become accustomed to not taking much notice. You can't really complain when it's free eh?

We contributed to the town shopkeepers' wealth by having a couple of beers at an hotel and buying some groceries from the local supermarket. No doubt the dozens of other free campers would also have contributed to some extent buying fuel or other goods.

The Burdekin Shire Council is to be congratulated for having the initiative to dream up such a scheme that helps thousands of travellers per year and also brings sales for local shopkeepers. I've emailed them to congratulate them on such an innovative and excellent effort.

Many other town councils should follow this example, perhaps even the Alice Springs Town Council, where I live.


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