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The beautiful setting along the Clarence River at Lilydale near Copmanhurst will soon be decommissioned as a free camping area by Crown Lands after a number of campers littered the area and trespassed on nearby private properties. Image: Emma Pritchard.

Free camping to cease at popular spot

One of the most scenic locations in the Clarence Valley will no longer be used as a free camping ground.

The picturesque riverside area at Lilydale, which attracts many campers and holiday makers throughout the year, will soon be decommissioned as a camping area by Crown Lands and reinstated as a public recreation reserve.

The decision follows numerous complaints by Lilydale and Copmanhurst residents regarding high volumes of rubbish and waste left behind by campers and reports of anti-social behaviour and trespassing on nearby properties.

Illegal dumping and rubbish disposal have been an ongoing issue in the Lilydale and Copmanhurst areas for the past several months and it has now contributed to camping being banned along the Clarence River.

The announcement was met with mixed reviews on the Copmanhurst News Facebook site.

Many people commented that while they understood the frustration of local residents, a minority of irresponsible campers have ruined a beautiful camping destination for the majority of holiday makers and visitors who do the right thing.

Clarence Valley Councillor Debrah Novak said in a social media post that the number of complaints made it clear the community would not put up with the volume of rubbish or anti-social behaviour being generated on a regular basis.

After contacting Crown Lands several weeks ago, Cr Novak said the department identified an unavailability of resources to monitor or enforce the compliance matters relating to camping or the toilets on site, which do not have disability access.

Cr Novak thanked the community for bringing the matter to her attention and she is continuing to monitor further developments.

Despite the upcoming changes to the popular camping destination, Lilydale and Copmanhurst residents are continuing to encourage campers and tourists to visit their rural communities.

Several alternative campsites in the area, including the Copmanhurst Recreation Reserve which only charges campers $5 per person, per night, were listed on the Copmanhurst News Facebook page to promote them to perspective visitors and campers who are currently in the region.

The nominated camping areas also have more resources available compared to the popular location at Lilydale and camp sites can be spaced out accordingly.

Lynn Heyman, who has lived in the area for 20 years, wants visitors to know they are “very welcome” in the community, and all she asks of them is to “be respectful of other people’s neighbourhoods.”

Ms Heyman has previously experienced problems with campers and visitors trespassing on her land, despite displaying private property signs.

She has also had vehicles drive over and subsequently damage water pipes on her property and she has also found rocks on her electric fences to weigh them down for easier access.

Ms Heyman said if more bins and resources including camping signs were provided for visitors along the river and the area was regularly monitored or patrolled, the issues encountered by locals would be minimised.

“The amount of people coming (to Lilydale) through the week is incredible,” she said.

“We (residents) are just asking them to please be respectful to us, be respectful of our properties and do the right thing by taking your rubbish away with you.”

Another Copmanhurst resident Janine Jasper said campers are welcome in the region, describing visitors as important for the local economy.

She agreed with Ms Heyman that campers need to be responsible and to ensure the local area is kept clean and tidy for everyone to enjoy.

“We’re just asking people who do visit our area to do the right thing,” she said.

“Please don’t leave your rubbish behind and spoil what is a pristine location.”

Campers will no longer be able to pitch their tents or park caravans along the Clarence River at Lilydale after numerous complaints were made to Crown Lands and CVC about the mess they leave behind and disruptions caused to local residents and property owners. Image: Emma Pritchard.
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