Aussie council escalates parking crackdown on tourists with 'significant costs'

Noosa Council in Queensland will now tow cars from parking bays at a popular beach lookout as it tries to deter backpackers from continuing to 'flout' the rules.

Left, a backpacker stands in front of a van on the corner of Mitti Street and Park Road in Noosa with the tow zone parking sign. Right, a council worker installed the new signage.
Noosa Council is continuing its crackdown on illegal campers, who will now be towed from a popular lookout spot in the tourist town. Source: Noosa Council

The Noosa Council’s crackdown on illegal campers has intensified as the holiday hotspot threatens to tow any cars left overnight at a popular lookout. The growing tourist town on the Sunshine Coast has long been a favourite stop-off for backpackers, but authorities say their presence has “caused all sorts of problems”.

Since August last year, car parks near the Noose National Park have been trialling rules preventing drivers from stopping there between the hours of 10pm and 4am. Despite the threat of a hefty $309 fine for illegal camping, travellers are continuing to “flout the rules”, prompting the council to announce it will now start towing cars away.

As of Friday, any vehicles left overnight in beach-front bays on the corner of Mitti Street and Park Road will be removed.

“Illegal campers in breach of these restrictions could have their vehicle towed away and they’ll face significant costs to recover it, not to mention the inconvenience of being without transport while it is impounded,” local laws manager Rob Smith said.

“Illegal campers often leave rubbish behind showing a total disregard for the area and the environment.”

The beach-front parking bays on the corner of Mitti Street and Park Road in Noosa where cars will now be towed overnight.
Noosa Council now tow any vehicles left overnight in beach-front bays on the corner of Mitti Street and Park Road. Source: GoogleMaps

Smith said parking officers had seen “good results” while performing extra patrols over the summer, but authorities are still seeing a “high number” of people breaking the law as we move into the winter months.

“Illegal camping reduces parking availability which impacts residents. Officers have issued 40 fines to those deliberately flouting the rules in the last two weeks alone,” he continued.

If the new tow-away zone helps tackle the problem, it may be extended to other parking bays from Noosa Woods to Noosa Spit. “Our target remains those who wilfully ignore the restrictions and continue to prevent residents and visitors from enjoying our most popular and beautiful areas,” Smith said.

Illegal camping and the town’s swollen population on weekends and school holidays has been a hot topic among Noosa residents for years. In February, the council said it was considering introducing a traffic congestion tax for tourists.

Speaking to The ABC following the council’s latest decision, Canadian tourist Noah Vanveen said the move appeared to be a “cash grab”.

He explained that he understood what the elected body was trying to do but didn’t think it was the “best way to do it”. “Are they going to tow them away with people in the cars? Because anyone who's here at 10pm till 4am is probably asleep in their car,” he said.

Noosa resident Vasse Yee told he publication that while “overnight camping can definitely be abused”, backpackers are not the only ones to blame. The cost-of-living crisis has forced many Aussies to live in their vehicles.

Other locals have praised the council’s tow-away rule online, calling it a “fantastic idea”.

“Thank goodness for this. We faced all the parking spaces taken up with the vans this week. Come and visit and see our beautiful town but park in campsites that can accommodate you,” one woman said.

Tourists looking to stay in the Noosa area are urged to check out one of the following campsites:

  • Noosa River Holiday Park

  • Noosa North Shore Beach Campground

  • Boreen Point Campground

  • Kin Kin Camping

  • Cooroy Caravan Park

  • Pomona Caravan Park

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