July 2, 2020
A free 48-hour caravan and RV parking area in Proston which opened a little more than three years ago is starting to pay steady dividends for the town.
The short-stay area, located on Rodney Street between the Golden Spurs Hotel and Proston Rural, was created on Council-owned land at the suggestion of the Proston Round Table community group.
The group were concerned large numbers of holiday-makers were bypassing the town, and believed a free short-stay facility near the CBD might encourage more visitors to spend time in the area.
The park was initially a vacant block of land at the end of Railway Park, and was opened as a 48-hour freestay in February 2017.
South Burnett Regional Council marked the borders of the block with tree seedlings to outline the site’s boundaries.
But caravanners who wanted water, hot showers or toilets either had to use the facilities in their vehicles or find alternatives elsewhere.
One of these alternatives soon turned out to be the Proston Golf Club.
They took up the idea and allow visiting caravanners to use the club’s amenities, with the only trade-off being that the golf club is located about 1.5km west of the CBD.
Time has shown, though, that these small limitations haven’t been a major drawback for either site.
Both have attracted a steadily growing stream of holiday-makers over the past few years – the golf club alone hosted 1100 visitors in 2018-19 – and this has given the town a welcome economic boost.
Since the CBD parking area opened, Proston community groups have pitched in to build a campfire pit, wooden benches and the makings of a decorative windbreak featuring local cattle brands to make the CBD freestay a more welcoming destination.
The Council has now secured funding to build a dump point, and it is expected to be installed this financial year.
The dump point will probably be located further along Rodney Street where it can be welded into the town’s underground infrastructure, but will be easy for caravanners to access.
Cr Kathy Duff told southburnett.com.au the 48-hour stop over area had taken a while to get going, but patronage was steadily rising as word of its existence spread among the grey nomad community.
She had strongly advocated for the parking area with Council after the Round Table raised it, and was glad fellow Councillors agreed to the idea.
Last weekend, for example, the site hosted several caravanners who spent the weekend enjoying the town and its surrounds.
Several of the campers had dinner at the Golden Spurs Hotel, and spent the following day exploring the town’s shops.
While border closures have slowed the region’s usual winter caravan trade to a trickle the past few months, the town is hopeful this will pick up once restrictions ease further.
Proston’s experience with free short-stay parking mirrors those of Nanango, Kumbia, Wooroolin, Wondai and Murgon.
All five towns have had free short-stay camping areas for many years.
Most freestays are busiest during the peak March-October tourism season, but can still attract patrons in the warmer months.
At a free seminar organised by the Kingaroy Chamber Of Commerce and Industry and the South Burnett Regional Council in September 2017, members of the Australian Caravan Club said their own research suggested there are now as many as 620,000 caravans and RVs in Australia.
About 130,000 of these vehicles were on the road at any point in time, and the average spend by RV visitors was about $100 per day.