Local camping spots missing from state government’s radar

THE Queensland Government is holding a series of meetings on how to best promote and prepare camping spots around the state, but the Gladstone region is conspicuous by its absence from the list.

Promoting domestic tourism, camping in particular, was a key issue raised during the development of the Queensland Drive Tourism Strategy 2013-2015.

The tourism industry is attempting to keep holiday-makers in Australia rather than spending their money overseas or interstate.

The State Government has been consulting with regional groups across the state on how to best reap the rewards of the renewed popularity.

It set up the Camping Options Reference Group, which is aiming to come up with a set of guidelines for regional councils to use in future planning.

As part of that consultation process, the group is touring Queensland to get local perspectives on the issue.

With Cairns, Mount Isa, Emerald, Charleville, Townsville, Toowoomba, and Fraser Coast on the list, it appears that the Gladstone Region has missed out entirely in the process.

However, acting chief executive of Gladstone Area Promotion and Development Ltd (GAPDL) Kim Williams wasn't concerned that Gladstone wasn't on the list.

"It's not immediately on our radar, but certainly we would like to be considered as part of that process," she said.

"I'm sure our colleagues in Tourism Queensland would keep us abreast of any developments.

"I don't think we should be immediately concerned that we weren't included."

A spokesperson from the minister's office said that missing out Gladstone was not a snub, and the locations were selected to give the group a cross-section of coastal and inland locations.

They said that there were no plans to visit Gladstone or the region as part of the process, however.

Camping remains a popular pastime in Queensland according to Tourism Research Australia, with drive tourism accounting for 67% of the overnight leisure market in the state.

I think more and more people, younger families in particular, are looking for that nature-based experience.

About 10.3 million visitors participated in drive tourism during their trip to Queensland, the rest preferring to stay in hotels and other locations.

"The growing popularity of caravanning and camping across Queensland had seen huge numbers of people moving around the state," minister for tourism Jann Stuckey said in a statement.

Ms Williams said a lack of demand was not the issue, but rather getting people to visit from outside the region was proving a challenge.

"I think more and more people, younger families in particular, are looking for that nature-based experience," she said.

"I think the challenge for the State Government and others is really making people from outside the region aware that these spots are available."

Popular spots

  • Baffle Creek
  • Lake Awoonga
  • Facing Island
  • Curtis Island
  • Agnes Water
  • 1770

Retro holidays back in fashion in Gladstone region

LAKE Awoonga camping grounds manager Mort Gott says the last few years have been somewhat of a renaissance for camping, but the trend was towards campervans instead of tents.

He said the past couple of weeks had seen an upturn in business, as the school holidays brought more families to the park.

Mort and Gayle Gott are the managers of the Lake Awoonga caravan and camping grounds.
Mort and Gayle Gott are the managers of the Lake Awoonga caravan and camping grounds. Brenda Strong

"We've been really flat-out in the past couple of weeks; all the school kids and their families have been heading down," he said.

He said on the whole there were a lot more campers on the roads than in previous years, however the mode of camping had changed.

"I think the smaller caravans have picked up in the past two or three years, as opposed to just pitching a tent."

The State Government is currently trying to decide how best to appeal to potential campers. And while they could do worse than to talk to individual operators, Mr Gott said any attempts to pitch to families would more or less go ignored.

"I honestly don't think anybody listens to all that stuff.

"People just do what they want to do, and there's not too much a campaign is going to do to change their minds," he said.