ILLEGAL camping has popped up in Melville, with the council set to launch a crackdown at Dyoondalup Point Walter.
Residents say that more than 20 campers are lined up in the popular riverside attraction’s carpark each night, with some people living there weeks at a time.
Following Fremantle’s well-publicised problems with its campers at South Beach, Melville mayor George Gear said the council was aware they were also gathering by the river.
“We will be trialling new signage at Dyoondalup Point Walter that will designate the relevant carparks in the area as no parking areas between midnight and 5am as an initial step,” Mr Gear said.
He said if the signage didn’t deter the campers, the council would look at what other measures needed to be taken.
In the meantime, council rangers have taken a softly, softly approach by telling the campers about nearby campgrounds and support services.
Mr Gear said the council surveyed the campers they encountered, and found they were predominantly interstate or intra-state travellers using the area as a temporary stopover. He said none identified as being homeless.
The Herald spoke to a couple of young Spanish women who said a big problem was finding alternative accommodation.
“Everywhere is full,” one said. “We’ve met a lot of the people here, and it’s those who pass through or those people looking for a house. You could go to a hotel, but it is fully booked.”
She said while travelling through the Northern Territory and Queensland there were plenty of overnight facilities provided for travellers, but that stopped when they hit the WA border.
“WA is a bit weird like that.” While she’s currently looking for some casual work before heading up north to look for something in the mining industry, she said the tight accommodation market, and caravan park prices that have risen 16 per cent on average in the last two years, made it difficult to take advantage of any quick adventures that came up.”
The campers also say they always keep their areas ‘clean and tidy’ because they want people to like them.
“Its beautiful here. We have good facilities, like the public toilets, so I feel grateful to be here.”
Stuey is a “kind-of resident” of Melville, and comes down to the reserve every day to watch television in his van and enjoy the river.
“There’s loads of them; at night there’s more than 20 vans lined up,” he said.
“They’re no trouble at all, but there were a couple of girls doing a bit of fire twirling the other day. They play a bit of music, but they’re not bothering anyone,” Stuey said.
“I am on their side for two reasons. The first is that the planet belongs to all of us,
and the second is that local government stinks.
“What they don’t realise, the politicians or the bureaucrats, is the everyone who is travelling is still spending money, no matter where they’re staying.
There’s room for everybody, and they don’t own the planet.”
Three young men of different nationalities hung out in hammocks nearby strung amongst a grove of trees nearby, one gently plucking away at a guitar.
They also praised Queensland for its free or cheap campgrounds close to the city, but say Perth’s nearest is an hour and a half away.
“It would not harm anyone if they were to provide more facilities,” one said.
“Perth doesn’t rely on tourism in the city, which is maybe why they haven’t provided much.”