Capes councils could combine forces to tackle illegal camping and overflow

Warren HatelyAugusta Margaret River Times
Shire of Augusta-Margaret River president Julia Meldrum.
Camera IconShire of Augusta-Margaret River president Julia Meldrum. Credit: Pieter Naessens/Pieter Naessens

The Shire of Augusta-Margaret River and City of Busselton could join forces to investigate possible solutions to the region’s increasing illegal camping.

The issue was a hot button topic during summer as residents reported an increase in illegal camping, creating a big jump in rangers’ workload.

The shire has invited Busselton to be part of a working group despite their different experiences with the issue.

The proposed group’s options include finding one or more sites where “itinerant” travellers could be offered basic lodgings to avoid backpackers and van tourists clogging popular spots and camping illegally at beaches.

Augusta-Margaret River shire president Julia Meldrum said it was important members of the group worked together to provide options before next summer.

The Busselton council is yet to decide if it will support the venture.

A city spokesperson told the Times the agenda for its next meeting would be finalised today, May 3.

“Should a motion be forthcoming, this would then be considered at the next ordinary council meeting on May 15,” they said.

Earlier this year, the city said rangers were taking an educational approach.

Despite an observed increase in illegal camping at coastal spots, an increase in homelessness and workers without housing meant it was being treated with compassion.

Residents have already called for a permanent seasonal solution for camper overflow, not just from annoyance at travellers but to provide duty of care and basic amenities for visitors as well as travellers arriving without booked accommodation.

The proposal from Ms Meldrum for a working group said a similar group focused on campers and vineyard workers lapsed in 2013.

While her proposal recommended identifying an overflow facility as a priority, it noted costs and challenges as well as the risk of competing with established campgrounds.

A final report is expected in September.

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