March 16, 2021
Blackbutt Showgrounds has become the latest South Burnett tourist hotspot thanks to a week-long visit by 349 motorhomes and caravans.
The very welcome “invasion” has kept Show Society volunteers and Blackbutt Lions Club members very busy, but is also adding some very useful dollars to local coffers.
The visitors are members of the Campervan and Motorhome of Australia’s (CMCA) “Solos Network”.
“Solos” are grey nomads who are travelling alone for various reasons.
Spokesperson Dorian Marsland-Smith said the visitors were having a ball in Blackbutt.
The group holds an annual Spring Rally and an Autumn Rally somewhere in Australia every year, but this is the first time they have come to Blackbutt.
“We like to go to towns and regions which have suffered through drought or bushfires or other natural disasters,” Dorian said.
“We spend between $80,000 to $100,000 in a town in a week.”
Blackbutt Show Society president Charles Gibling said it had been estimated that every $1 that showgrounds campers spent translated into $3.80 for the region, which will help local businesses.
He said the Blackbutt Showgrounds were a perfect facility for the visitors.
“We have the space and all the facilities that they wanted, for example, the hall and disabled toilets,” he said.
And he estimates the grounds can probably hold 390-400 campervans or caravans.
The CMCA Solos arrived in Blackbutt in stages from mid-last week.
One hundred volunteers arrived first to mark up parking spots, organise the COVID plan and catering, and set everything else up.
First-timers arrived three days later, which gave the newcomers a chance to get to know each other and enjoy a special Welcome Dinner on Saturday night.
The rest of the campers came on Monday, arriving either as individuals or in small “tag-along” groups.
All the visitors were temperature-tested as they arrived.
Two vans travelled from Western Australia, six from South Australia and the rest from Victoria, NSW and Queensland.
The Solos also travel with their own first aid team, and a first aid tent has been set up at the showgrounds for the visit.
The Show Society has fenced off a special dog exercise area as many of the campers are accompanied by small dogs.
The visitors are joining in local activities such as line-dancing, yoga and bingo in the Memorial Hall, as well as taking short trips organised by a local bus company.
They are also taking part in special events, such as a fancy dress “B for Blackbutt” dinner-dance planned for Friday night, and enjoying live entertainment, cards and games at the showgrounds.
A wood-chopping exhibition has also been organised.
Dorian said the CMCA had 70,000 members, including about 900 in the Solos Network which was formed in 1997.
“We have a policy – one person in one vehicle,” Dorian said.
The Solos provide a safe and friendly environment for the travellers.
“Their support is unreal. The kindness and support they show each other is unreal,” Dorian said.
“But it is not a singles club. Some of their partners are staying at home.”
Their next rally – in Spring – will be at Cohuna in Victoria.
- More information about the Solos Network is available online