So-called "free campers'' have been urinating in the front yards of coastal residents and ditching soiled nappies in the street, leading one council to crack down on the itinerant travellers.

Mid-North Coast council is at war with some campers who are parking their vans illegally in suburban streets and committing other, more vile, offences.

Kempsey Shire councillor Leo Hauville said many campers have resorted to parking in local streets around the holiday hamlets of Crescent Head, South West Rocks and Hat Head because campsites and hotels are completely booked out as a result of the pandemic.

The campers are often surfers looking for a cheap stay while they "chug along the coast following the waves," Mr Hauville said.

And while the majority do the right thing, some have caused a problem for council, prompting it to erect signage banning overnight stays.

Miina Kuusela 24 and Billy Fairhall 25 from Cronulla, parked legally in their van at Crescent Head on the NSW Mid North Coast. There is no suggestion they did anything wrong. Picture: Nathan Edwards
Miina Kuusela 24 and Billy Fairhall 25 from Cronulla, parked legally in their van at Crescent Head on the NSW Mid North Coast. There is no suggestion they did anything wrong. Picture: Nathan Edwards

"It's night time and they can't stay at the beachside camping area so they'll go into backstreets of towns and park areas and stay there," Mr Hauville said.

"A minority of them are doing the wrong thing.

"They're inappropriately camping and staying overnight. They're using people's front gardens as toilets, throwing rubbish out and some have small kids and they're leaving soiled nappies around the place. It's uncaring, quite selfish."

Camping overnight in local streets is allowed under the Local Government Act, provided parking is permitted on the road. However, if the car is in a restricted area, the occupants may be moved on or issued with a fine. 

The sign indicating the ban on overnight stays in the area. Picture: Nathan Edwards
The sign indicating the ban on overnight stays in the area. Picture: Nathan Edwards

But according to Mr Hauville, some of the campervans are parking on private property without permission or staying longer than parking signs permit, adding: "It's an ongoing problem."

While he said the tourism boom in the Mid North Coast had been good for the local economy, it has also meant caravan parks, hotels and AIRBNBs have been booked out over summer.

"(Some free campers) don't have respect for the locals that live here," he said.

Rangers have now stepped up patrols of popular areas and are issuing fines.

"It's the direction of management of the council.

Booked out campsites at Crescent Head. Picture: Nathan Edwards
Booked out campsites at Crescent Head. Picture: Nathan Edwards

"We've been told they're going to target certain areas."

Cronulla couple Miina Kuusela, 24, and Billy Fairhall, 25, are among those who parked their van legally in Crescent Head at the weekend to enjoy the surf.

At night, they park outside an AIRBNB which their friends have booked.

 

"Some people have zero respect but for the vast majority it is hard. For campsites you have to pay quite a bit."

Originally published as Urinating camper chaos sparks council crackdown

A legally parked traveller and her dog grab a daytime nap in Crescent Head. Picture: Nathan Edwards
A legally parked traveller and her dog grab a daytime nap in Crescent Head. Picture: Nathan Edwards


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