Outraged locals are ready to fight Orange City Council’s proposal to allow camping at Gosling Creek Reserve, with a protest rally on Saturday calling for the plan to be scrapped.
Council has two plans on public exhibition: one allowing camping on the reserve’s southern side using facilities on the northern side, the other allowing camping in a designated area on the northern side of the reserve.
Recreation Vehicle parking would be permitted in the car parks.
However, dog walker Bob Smith and nearby resident Jane Wiesener are leading the charge to stop it going ahead.
VIDEO: Councillor Stephen Nugent speaking at the rally ...
They claim camping would damage the environment, scare off bird life, increase the amount of anti-social behaviour in the area, be a risk to children playing in the park, endanger the water supply, and allow people to have dogs in the area.
Mrs Wiesener said it was a family area that should be preserved.
“We think they [council] should keep it as it is for the locals to enjoy," she said.
“Council should be proud of it the way it is. There is anti-social behaviour there now and free camping will just increase the undesirable behaviour.”
Mr Smith said it would not attract ‘high-end tourists’.
“Contrary to the tourism and economic benefits claimed I believe the major users of any caravan park and free camping facility would be some low-budget tourists, together with many itinerant and backpacker fruit pickers in town from about November to March,” he said.
“In light of the projected $240,000 establishment cost and the annual ongoing running and maintenance cost, it would mean the council financial return would be literally non-existent.”
Mr Smith said he was concerned campers would bring dogs and cats which would endanger the wildlife and birdlife.
“They are currently not allowed in the park,” he said.
“In researching RV/caravan users, it appears 22 per cent of them travel with either a dog or a cat.
“Can you imagine them arriving at Gosling Creek after a long road journey only to let their beloved pets out into this pristine reserve environment?”
Mr Smith said he had walked all over the Gosling Creek area and feared camping would threaten birds’ breeding cycles in the area.
Deputy mayor Sam Romano supported camping at Gosling Creek.
“It’s great, I don’t know why it was left off before,” he said.
DO YOU WANT MORE ORANGE NEWS?
- Receive our free newsletter delivered to your inbox every morning, as well as breaking news alerts. Sign up here ...