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Illegal camping in Gracetown

Additional information is provided regarding a group of youths fined for illegally camping in Gracetown last weekend.

On Saturday 17 February, Shire Rangers were on routine morning patrols when they came across a group of youths camping illegally. The group included Year 12 students who had attended a private party at the Gracetown Hall following their school ball.

The Gracetown Hall is owned by the Shire, with bookings managed by the Gracetown Cowaramup Bay Community Inc (GCBCI). The booking was made a few days prior to the event and it seems there was a misunderstanding when the booking was made that led the organiser to believe guests would be permitted to camp on the reserve.  The reserve is not a campground, and as such camping is not permitted.

Given that the camping seems to have been the result of a genuine misunderstanding, fines will be retracted on this occasion. The Shire will contact students and parents in the coming few days and is also working with the GCBCI to review booking conditions and processes for Shire-owned halls.

While the Shire appreciates the arrival of the Rangers may not have been the ideal end for the party, we are keen to remind the community that the Rangers were doing their job in line with the information they had available, and followed standard protocols.

Our Rangers are dedicated community members who work incredibly hard to uphold our standards, often in challenging situations. It’s disappointing that some people used this as an opportunity to abuse our staff rather than trying to understand the difficult nature of the task at hand.
 
The Shire is working closely with community groups to tighten up booking systems and procedures for community halls to reduce the possibility of such situations arising in the future. 
 
The situation has also highlighted broader concerns about illegal camping and accommodation pressures. Our Shire has become a bucket list destination which means we're attracting backpackers here on the trip of a lifetime as well as seasonal workers who are vital for the local hospitality and viticulture industries. This is coupled with a resurgence of digital nomads and van life culture, plus a rental and cost of living crisis.
  
Finding a solution is a priority for the Shire and a process has commenced to understand what the Shire can do to address the issue ahead of future peak seasons.

20 Feb 2024 Topic Type
General News
Place
Augusta, Cowaramup, Gracetown, Karridale and Kurdardup, Margaret River, Prevelly and Gnarabup, Scott River, Witchcliffe
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