PLANNED changes to the Lake Ainsworth Holiday Park at Lennox Head have caught some Christmas campers by surprise.
The 2006 plan of management called for the removal of some campers at the beach end of the facility and a car park put in their place.
Yesterday, Currumbin resident and long-time Lake Ainsworth camper Cliff Curran said he only became aware of the plan after he tried to re-book his camp site for next Christmas, but was told that site might not be available.
“I’ve been coming here for 27 years, several times each year,” he said. “I know a lot of my neighbours. It has become a family thing. This year we had seven grandchildren, two daughters and our son and his partner.”
Mr Curran said the growing popularity of family camping meant there was a need for more camp sites, not less.
Meanwhile, Ballina Shire Council general manager Paul Hickey has defended his council’s decision to relinquish responsibility for three Crown land caravan parks currently under its control.
The three parks – Ballina Central, Shaws Bay and Lake Ainsworth – will be handed back to the NSW Department of Lands and Property Management, after a request by the state agency was approved at this week’s council meeting.
While the three parks together netted an annual income of about $2 million, with $1.3 million earned through visitors to the Lake Ainsworth park alone, none of it came back to the council as general revenue.
According to Mr Hickey, all profits had to be spent on the parks, with just $110,000 handed back to the council as compensation for maintaining the unused portions of the three Crown reserves.
“They are certainly no cash cow,” Mr Hickey said.
He cited the fact that a recent plan of management called for substantial funding to be spent on drainage and car parking at Lake Ainsworth as yet another reason why the van park would not return much back to the council.
However, he said there were no new changes expected for the park, because future management directions had already been identified through a publicly-exhibited plan of management.