OUR SAY: Litter and laundry the bitter fruits of backpackers' campsites

THE sound of French, German and Dutch accents in supermarket queues is a familiar and welcome one during our fruit picking seasons, but when these young backpackers return to campsites like the one being trialled at Lake Canobolas this season, the reception is not always so warm.

Established at the lake at the request of local orchardists, the so-called “primitive” camping area has become an eyesore for residents and visitors.

This week one regular lake visitor complained about the rubbish and litter strewn around the site and laundry draped over fences.

The camping site at the lake not only encourages backpackers on working holidays to avoid illegal and dangerous spots in other reserves and on roadsides, it helps orchardists cater for a vital seasonal workforce.

From a budget traveller’s point of view it should surely be a desirable spot. The setting is picturesque, it is reasonably close to town and the facilities, though basic, are enough to cater for those on a shoestring tour of Australia. The number of campers using the site tells us that.

The complaints of locals need to be heeded, but rather than abandon camping at the lake the council should look at whether these somewhat predictable problems can be overcome.

First to be asked for comment should be the orchardists. Has the availability of camping in the heart of the fruit growing area helped them attract and keep fruit pickers for the duration of the season?

If they consider camping at the lake a success the city should look at whether site problems can be reduced or eliminated.

Would moving the camping area away from the entrance, and erecting clotheslines and signs asking our overseas visitors to do the right thing, improve things?

Year-round camping was never part of the plan, and probably shouldn’t be, but it would be a shame if a way can’t be found to accommodate campers on working holidays and the orchardists who depend on them, without turning one of Orange’s most popular recreation areas into an embarrassment for residents.

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