Last Tuesday we published a blog post discussing how campers should not outstay their welcome when camping in a public place and if you are asked to move what you should do and where you stand from a legal perspective. Coincidentally, we have now heard reports of campers in Melbourne, Australia causing frustration to the local council as they are refusing to move their campervans from a spot by the Yarra River.
On Boathouse Drive, opposite Federation Square, campervans now line the street as backpackers have flocked to the picturesque area due to the fact that there are no parking restrictions between 3pm and 10am. The area has become so popular due to the fact that campers can stay there for free, and even though there are no proper camping facilities in the area, campers are using a local public toilet in order to get water for cleaning, cooking and washing up.
Campers are also causing frustration due to the fact that they are setting up campchairs and tables on the public footpaths which is blocking pedestrian and bike access. Some campers have laid out mattresses and rugs by the river, and one group of campers even caused a commotion on the street when they attempted to push start a campervan. Melbourne City Council has therefore sent parking inspectors to the site, who are issuing campers $250 fines for camping in a public place.
However, many campers are still not moving on, with many claiming that even if they do receive a fine they won’t have to pay it once they do leave. Nelly Graille and Sylvian Dubois are two campers staying on Boathouse Drive, who said: “We heard this is the best place to stay in Melbourne because it is free. We’ve been here three days and will stop here for a week or more before continuing to travel around. It’s nice to be by the river but there is no shower. For two days I don’t have a shower. Why would I give my money to a caravan park, when I can save money and park in this spot?”
It seems that many of the campers staying in the area are doing so in order to save money; however camping in a public place is illegal if you have been asked to move on, and many of the campers could soon find that Melbourne City Council will find new ways to forcibly remove them. Their campervan insurance policies may also not be valid whilst they are parked in the area, so if their campervans are damaged or stolen they may have to end up paying the costs themselves.