Summer campers to test parks bookings

TOO HARD: Victorian travelers David and Beth George.
TOO HARD: Victorian travelers David and Beth George.

CHANGES introduced in February to the state’s national park booking system will be tested over the warmer months with more tourists visiting parks.

From February 27, visitors are no longer able to pay for camping or entry at the gate, instead having to pay and book campsites online.

Victorians Beth and David George visited Lincoln National Park last week and said they had noticed differences between states.

“We went through the whole of Western Australia with one fee, now I have to go online to pay a $9 concession fee – that’s ridiculous,” Mr George said.

“We haven’t paid today for the day trip as it was too much hassle.” 

Mr and Mrs George have been travelling since the beginning of June and said camping in national parks outside SA was “usually no problem” and it was annoying not being able to see a site before booking.

“I don’t mind paying for a site online if you know about it, although they’re doing pretty well online with all the photos they’ve put up of the sites,” Mr George said.

Natural Resources Eyre Peninsula parks and sustainable landscapes manager Tim Hall said feedback about the online booking had been positive, with many tourists saying they liked the ability to pre-plan and book a campsite, knowing their site would be available on arrival.

Mr Hall said if visitors found people in their pre-booked site they could ask for help from a ranger, campground host or call the office to change their booking.

Mr Hall said there had been an increase in visits to campgrounds and more people paying for their campsites since introducing online payments.

He said the online system improved the conditions for campers and the rangers, as rangers could plan park patrols and maintenance activities depending on when and where people were camping.

Since the changes were introduced, the Beachcomber at Coffin Bay has been made a booking agent for Coffin Bay National Park and Mr Hall said improvements to mobile phone connectivity and online booking changes were being investigated.