Happy campers popping in
VANPACKERS - a much maligned species in some quarters - are welcomed with open arms in Burringbar, where a "pop-up" camping space in the park hosts up to a dozen guests most nights.
One supporter of the concept said the travellers treat the park and facilities with respect, patronise local stores and service providers and are to be "actively encouraged".
Real estate agent and village champion Stuart Cahill said the butcher, post office, laundry and bottle shop all benefit from the visitors.
"It's a great thing for Burringbar and is working with zero input from the council," he said.
Mr Cahill said the campers were frequently overseas travellers, many from Europe, who got along well with each other and were no trouble.
"We have never had a single untoward incident," he said.
Mr Cahill said many of the locals had embraced the idea, some even letting the campers use their showers.
If there is any rubbish spilling out of a bin or left around, Mr Cahill and other residents collect it and get it ready for the Wednesday pick-up.
The toilets in the park were left open all night and other facilities had been improved over the years by a number of community groups.
As a result, the park is rated high on free camping websites, which helps draw visitors to the town.
On New Year's Day, those visitors included three young men from Bavaria, in southern Germany.
Christian Sassl, Christian Fickler and David Klinger were sheltering from the sun in the shade of the toilet block.
They had used a smartphone app named Wiki Camps to locate the park, and were very happy with their find.
"We planned on camping in Byron Bay but there was nowhere vacant so we came here," Mr Sassl said.
Mr Cahill said making the park available as a campsite for travellers had historical precedent.
"When the railway was being built, there was a camp for workers here and for 100 years or so people would come to load goods on the train and would camp here," he said.
"A playground and maybe a pay shower would be welcome additions."
The camping was only "semi-legal", Mr Cahill said, and he hoped the authorities would just "let it be".