According to a recent news article in The Coffs Coast Advocate our region is the top spot for caravanners and campers in the state.

Mobile tourists spent nearly six million nights in Northern NSW last financial year.

With caravanners and campers spending an average $152 a night in the region, Northern NSW businesses would have collected about $889 million from mobile tourists last financial year.

The number of nights stayed climbed 44% to 5,848,990 in 2015-16.

This is great news but what about free campers?

Are we missing out here and what are we missing out on?

Various social media sites for free campers show Coffs to be a spot to potentially avoid due to the lack of free sites and penalties imposed for camping is certain areas, some suggest to run the gauntlet but this does not appeal to most law abiding citizens.

The issue was raised back in 2014 and some public debate was sounded, but mainly from a negative aspect about the clogging up of our public spaces in the Jetty area and surrounding foreshore locations and the using up of these spaces for free.

At the time, Coffs Harbour Mayor Denise Knight indicated, while it was a concern some were not paying for camping privileges, she was more vexed about the visual effect illegal camping had on the region i.e. the rubbish and general appearance of a bunch of camper vans sitting on top of each other. This was also the opinion of many locals as well and is understandable.

I for one don’t want to visit our lovely beaches only to find them clogged up with camper vans and backpackers doing their laundry.

Council has since placed restrictions on these and other areas with penalties in force and the problem has largely cleared up.

However, with the wonderful attractions the Coffs Coast offers, are we losing out to a viable market and does Coffs Harbour need to provide more free spaces to capture this market.

Sure they avoid direct accommodation costs, but if they decide to bypass us for another location down the road are we missing their spending money in local stores, restaurants and tourist locations?

The other question is, that if we did provide these free spaces would local caravan parks lose out, possibly not, as one of these operators indicated, this market is really just after free camping sites and if you don’t provide them, they will just move on to the next location that does!

As our population ages and the number of grey nomads increases, along with the popularity of camper vans and such and the improvements been made to the Pacific Highway, the Coffs Coast is heading for the perfect storm as an even better holiday destination with our great climate, wonderful clean beaches and parks and all the outdoor activities they entail, we shouldn’t be missing this opportunity!

Please contact us with any feedback and suggestions on 02 6651 4101 or for more information on becoming a member of the Coffs Harbour Chamber of Commerce, simply email