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NO CAMPING: Popular free camp spot shut down

GOTTA MOVE ON: Grey nomad Trevor Gallagher is not happy a No Camping sign has been erected at the highway rest area at the Teven Interchange. But there are plans to construct a service centre at the site.
GOTTA MOVE ON: Grey nomad Trevor Gallagher is not happy a No Camping sign has been erected at the highway rest area at the Teven Interchange. But there are plans to construct a service centre at the site. Graham Broadhead

GREY nomad Trevor Gallagher is disappointed he will have to move on after Roads and Maritime Services put up a No Camping sign at the rest area near the Teven Interchange on the Pacific Highway south of Ballina.

While the area has become a pseudo caravan park in recent months, it won't be an issue for too long as the RMS has plans to build a service centre at the site.

Mr Gallagher has been on the road for four years, living in his self-contained caravan.

He came to Ballina to catch up with a mate for some fishing, and had plans to stay a week at the rest area, which is a large area which also has plenty of parking for trucks as well as free campers.

But those plans were thrown out when the No Camping sign went up on Thursday -- just after he said he spent $300 on supplies in Ballina.

The 63-year-old who is travelling alone said he had no interest in staying in caravan parks, and enjoyed the free-camping life many grey nomads now choose to live.

He said caravan parks often charged for a minimum of two people, even though he travels by himself, and had no use for the extra frills like swimming pools, children's play areas and camp kitchens.

"I just love the lifestyle of free camping,” he said.

A spokeswoman for the RMS said the agency supports the Centre for Road Safety's Stop, Revive, Survive campaign and acknowledged long-distance drivers needed to take regular short breaks to avoid fatigue.

She said rest areas were provided to encourage drivers to take regular short breaks of up to 24 hours.

"Visitors who camp for consecutive days at rest areas limit the amount of parking available to other motorists who may need to take a short break and can put constraints on existing amenities such as water and waste,” she said.

"Long distance motorists wanting to stay more than 24 hours are encouraged to plan their journeys and investigate accommodation options available in local towns.”

She said rest areas which were known to be regularly used for stays of more than 24 hours have had No Camping signs installed to "remind visitors they are in a designated rest area and not a camping area”.

"This is intended to maximise access to rest areas for all road users,” she said.

She said the development application for the highway service centre at the Teven interchange is currently with Ballina Shire Council.

She said, subject to approval, it is expected work will start on the service centre early next year.



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