Margaret River Camping Fines
In a warning to all RVers, a group in WA’s Margaret River Region recently received 45 fines for illegal camping. The fines come amidst concerns over environmental damage to bushland and increased bushfire risk in the Wooditjup National Park just outside of Margaret River township. Shire of Augusta Margaret River rangers, Parks and Wildlife rangers and police say they are working closely to deal with a spike in illegal camping. Shire Ranger Coordinator Narelle Graue said the region was renowned for its pristine natural environment and the high volume of campers setting up in the bush with no toilets or rubbish disposal facilities was putting significant pressure on bushland areas. Illegal camping carries a $100 penalty, while illegal dumping attracts a $200 fine. 'Whilst we welcome visitors to our region, there are no free camping spots in our shire,' she said. 'The true cost of this type of camping is paid for by the environment and indirectly by residents whose rates go towards cleaning up the rubbish left behind, rehabilitating trampled bushland and covering water bills from travellers relying on public showers and other facilities.' She said the number of visitors peaked at this time of year, with little accommodation or few campsites available last-minute. 'Travellers intending to live out of their vehicles need to have made arrangements at official campsites or on private properties before arriving,' she explained. 'If you are looking for seasonal work, there are wineries allowing workers to park their vehicles and stay as part of their work entitlements. Ms Graue urged local residents willing to offer spare rooms or a space for travellers to park are encouraged to advertise on Margaret River Backpackers Facebook group or on Gumtree. Shire Emergency Services manager Adam Jasper said illegal camping presented a major safety concern over bushfires, particularly with current dryer than usual conditions. 'We've recently had two major bushfire incidents in our shire, with official campsites evacuated in the nick of time and several people's belongings burned to the ground. Firefighters won't know where you are if you're free camping in the bush, and I've seen fires move so quickly they can create incredibly dangerous situations in a short period of time.' He said bushland was tinder-dry, with conditions usually only expected at the end of summer. 'Bush cooking on open stoves or lighting campfires in undesignated spots can unintentionally cause a bushfire,' he explained. 'This creates a very real risk to the surrounding community where people live and work.'