BACKPACKERS and seasonal workers spending the summer months in Orange will be made more welcome with a new camping area and $20,000 worth of upgrades to toilet facilities at Lake Canobolas.
Previously campers were locked out of the lake area at night, but with a new camping area fenced off near the amenities blocks there is room for up to 20 vans to call the lake home for at least one night and use the new hot showers.
Suzie Bruchmann and David Belitz were among a group of about 60 cherry pickers who set up camp along Lake Canobolas Road on Thursday night.
They welcomed the move to create the safer more convenient camping area after spending five nights camped on the side of the road.
“It was OK [camping at the roadside] ... but you’re still camped in front of a sign that says no camping, so it’s not perfect,” Ms Bruchmann said.
“We had a couple of cars go past honking and yelling out.
“[The lake camping area] would be good for people who work in the orchards.”
Mr Belitz said the pair often struggled to find somewhere to camp when travelling around the country for work.
Orange City councillor Jeff Whitton said the camping area and upgrades were the council’s small way of treating travelling workers as part of the community and acknowledging the financial contribution they make to the Orange economy.
“They are an important part of the community, they come in every year and assist our orchardists and our vignerons to bring their harvests in,” he said.
“They pretty well spend all the money they make here.
“It’s about council taking action to give young people somewhere to stay that’s safe.”\
With the new camping area aimed at itinerant workers rather than the grey nomads market, Cr Whitton said he felt the gateway area to Orange would be the ideal site for a tourist park in the future.
With all 30 sites at the showground and 30 camping sites at the Colour City Caravan Park full, the new camping area is designed to cope with the overflow and discourage campers from staying on roadsides.
Development services director David Waddell said although the camping area remained primitive, the upgrades had lifted the amenities blocks by providing lighting, hot showers, a laundry tub and washing line.
The new lake camping area will be managed by the lake ranger who will collect a $10 per night site fee.