There’s a lot of National Park camping in Australia that has gone to the online booking system, and in many cases you allocate the camp site number that you want to go to. That’s got its own pro’s and con’s over a first come, best dressed arrangement, but in this post we’re chatting about what happens when you arrive at your booked national park camp site and someone’s in it, when they shouldn’t be.
I’ve heard of this happening a number of times, and it doesn’t always play out the way you might want, or expect it to with the way some people are these days. I arrived at our booking in Jarrahdene near Margaret River many moons ago to find a couple had setup in our site. I explained we had it booked, and they huffed and puffed and packed everything up (over about 30 minutes!), and moved on. They’d just tried to stay a night without paying, and I didn’t feel very sorry for them.
However we had a similar scenario recently, when we arrived at Mann River Campground in NSW. We’d paid the $6 booking fee, and allocated a site, and when I arrived, I could see a small yellow tent in the centre.
I grabbed the laptop out to double check the booking, and confirmed I wasn’t completely nuts. Hmm, what to do?
I could see another camper opposite, so went over to chat to him. ‘You lost mate?’ he says. I explain that we’ve booked the camp site, and ask him if anyone is there, or the tent has been left abandoned. He explains that a big bloke arrived late the night before, and left this morning, presumably to go to the music festival down the road.
The neighbour was quick to suggest we look to see if the tent was empty and abandoned, and then to move it, which we did. It had some sleeping gear inside, and I quickly zipped it back up again, and we carried it carefully across to the site next door.
The camp site was fully booked for that night, and I didn’t want to park in someone else’s spot, and keep the problem rolling. I felt bad for moving the tent, and hoped that the owner wasn’t too aggressive, but what do you do?
A few hours later, well past the checkout time for NSW national parks the bloke arrives back, and I don’t think he realised initially that his tent had been shifted. I hear him ask ‘who moved my tent?’ and I went over to admit it was us, and to apologise but the site was booked. He said ‘oh, ok, I’m a local, and we just camp wherever’.
He seemed annoyed, but OK for the most part, but his tent had a heap of water inside, from him not doing the fly up properly. He grabbed his jacket, and took off again in the car, leaving his tent on the other site that was still not his.
I half expected he’d come back with a heap of mates, but when I went back outside at about 11PM the tent was gone, and I’d heard what sounded like his vehicle take off, so I guess he’d moved on.
What do you do?
I guess the most logical thing to do is sort it out amicably, which is much easier if there is someone at the camp site. If you’re confident, the best way is a chat to the person in your site.
Failing that, you need to go through the official channels like a ranger. That’s an interesting one at Mann River, as there is zero reception, and you’d have to drive miles to get any.
I did suggest to Sarah we just set up camp next to the tent, and not touch it, but it didn’t seem very fair. I don’t like playing with other peoples gear, and felt bad that we moved it, but it seemed like the most sensible choice.
Have you had this happen to you? How do you reckon it should be dealt with?