A small portion of the free campers at Calliope on Friday, July 10.
A small portion of the free campers at Calliope on Friday, July 10.

Free CQ camp sites are new COVID-19 hot spots

FREE camping locations across Central Queensland could become COVID breeding grounds, according to a Gladstone caravan park owner.

The comment came after their park was inspected this week to ensure virus compliance.

With the Queensland border opening today and cars lined up to come in from New South Wales, the great southern invasion has begun.

When The Gladstone Observer went to the Calliope free camping area at 4pm on Friday, there were more than 100 tents and caravans, with many people not adhering to social distancing rules.

There was no sign of any COVID health regulation enforcement.

Kin Kora Village Caravan Park owner Monte Olsen said after being inspected this week by council, "what's good for the goose, should be good for the gander."

Mr Olsen said anyone "from Timbuktu" can get off a plane in Brisbane, hire a wicked van or similar and stay all along the Queensland coast for free, without being policed or adhering to social distancing rules.

"I asked who's patrolling the Calliope River free camping area with over 100 vans there and who is filling out the compliance forms," he said.

"It's council responsibility to operate a free camping ground and caravan park.

"Have we got inspectors going out there every night doing paperwork?

"If there is going to be an outbreak in the Central Queensland region, its going to be at the free camping areas."


A small portion of the free campers at Calliope on Friday, July 10.
A small portion of the free campers at Calliope on Friday, July 10.


Mr Olsen said if councils want to allow illegal caravan parks on the side of the highway, they should do what they are demanding caravan park owners to do.

"When you have only got a few trickling in COVID-19 isn't a threat and we've got signs up warning people about the regulations," he said.

"When I built this park 25 years ago I had to have a shower and a toilet for every 10 sites.

"You get 125 vans and tents out there and you've got two septic toilets."

Rules are rules, Mr Olsen said, and if he can be shut down for noncompliance, why can't free camping areas.

"If council aren't applying the state government rules, filling out all the required paperwork and having council officers out there ensuring compliance, it should be closed down., he said.

"Because if I don't comply to the rules and have notices up everywhere like the state government says, they will try and close me down."

A council communications officer confirmed Gladstone Regional Council operated the Calliope free camping area.

"GRC oversees the free camping ground at Calliope," the communications officer.

"I will forward your email to the relevant council officer to start the response process."

Gladstone Region Council responded to enquiries on Monday.

Acting Mayor Kahn Goodluck said the free camps are being monitored with appropriate signage in place at GRC facilities.

"Gladstone Regional Council are assisting Queensland Health to inspect and enforce noncompliance with directions, however council are not able to issue any directions," Cr Goodluck said.