Grey nomads seek Queanbeyan refuge

THE local economy could reap thousands of dollars in tourism expenditure each year if Queanbeyan pitched itself as an 'RV friendly' town, according to the peak body for 'grey nomads.'

There are 182 RV friendly towns and 71 RV friendly destinations across Australia, according to general manager of the Campervan and Motorhome Club of Australia (CMCA), Richard Barwick. And with easy access to the tourism attractions in the nation's capital, he said Queanbeyan was ideally placed to join the RV-friendly club .

"It can be a real income driver for the community," Mr Barwick said.

"When people are on the road, they'll spend $572 a week on essentials. That doesn't include the luxuries; they might go out for dinner a couple of nights, they might go and see some sights on top of that.

"For low cost, the community can set this up, and the RV tourist is worth about $8.5 billion nationally per annum, and it's the fastest growing sector of the tourism industry," he said.

Central Coast retiree and self-confessed 'grey nomad' Paul Callaghan travelled to Queanbeyan in his RV last week to visit his son and grandchildren. He said he'd stayed in 'RV friendly' towns across Australia, and said they encouraged grey nomads to include the participating towns in their trip plans.

"With so many of us on the roads, it's a great opportunity for Queanbeyan," he said.

"A lot of us still stay at caravan parks for the extra facilities they offer, whereas I like the free camps. They're quite friendly and everyone talks to everyone," he said.

To become 'RV friendly' and gain the CMCA's official recommendation to its 66,000 members, Queanbeyan would have to provide a flat piece of land near the city that included a dumping point for grey/black water reserves, and do so at no or low cost to users.

Local businessman and Development Board committee member Frank Bresnik has been advocating part of the Queanbeyan Showground as a possible site.

"It's in the centre of town, we can make a latent income from making it RV friendly, there's already a potable water sport for people to fill up their tanks, and you only need some sort of drop-off point for your sewer, and that's not that hard to organise," Mr Bresnik said.

"And it's one of my aims to get more toilets at the Showgrounds, and make it even more user friendly," he said.

Mayor Tim Overall was also supportive of the concept, but said the Showground wouldn't be an appropriate site due to a NSW Government-approved Plan of Management that doesn't allow for RVs and camping as a designated use, except as a one-off.

"The proposal of Queanbeyan becoming an RV Friendly town is a positive one and we have previously given consideration to this," Mr Overall said. "There are significant hurdles, but we are very much open to ideas and suggestions."

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