Popular beach campsite left in 'disgraceful' state prompts warning to Aussie tourists

EXCLUSIVE: New rules are coming to campsites thanks to tourists who 'don't respect' the environment. Now a local WA council says it is 'clamping down'.

Messy tourists have been called out after a popular camping spot on Australia's coast was left badly littered after the Easter long weekend with local authorities saying they've been left with no choice but to "clamp down" and introduce new rules to limit the number of visitors.

Tourism officials for the Turquoise Coast in Western Australia have blasted campers who left behind rubbish, warning their "legacy will be remembered for a while to come".

"Please let us know your address so that we can return your left behind items," the Visit Turquoise Coast Facebook page wrote on Thursday, sharing a photo of one camping area with rubbish and toilet paper left strewn in the bushes near the beach. The mess was left at Sandy Cape Recreation Park north of Jurien Bay, an Instagram hotspot about two-and-a-half hours drive north of Perth.

Many Aussies reacted with anger at the "disappointing" and "disgraceful" scene, with some fearing free campsites could be shut down.

Rubbish and mess pictured in the bushes at the WA campsite.
Rubbish and toilet paper was left behind by campers. Source: Facebook

"That makes me sooo angry. The place needs to be closed to camping and monitored," one WA resident said. "Send them the clean up bill it's disgusting leaving the bush like that," another commented.

While the visitor centre was unauthorised to speak to the media, it did suggest online that poor behaviour could have repercussions when it comes to free access.

"Most of us treat our campsites with respect but there are a few who don't and they will be the ones who complain when such places are no longer available to them," it wrote.

Speaking to Yahoo News Australia, local shire president Tony O'Gorman confirmed new rules are set to be introduced to "clamp down" on messy campers, lamenting how many people "ignore" signs and break the rules.

The pristine coastline of the Sandy Cape Recreation Park pictured from above.
Sandy Cape Recreation Park is a popular spot north of Perth. Source: Chris Allen/Google Photos

"We have 87 registered camp sites out at Sandy Cape. We get people that just flock in and ignore all the signage, ignore everything," he said. "The idea is that if you're in a bush camping area, you have your own toilets, you're completely self contained and whatever rubbish you generate you take out with you – lot's of people don't do that so we're going to clamp down on it a bit more stringently."

Authorities are currently working on a booking system which will mean only visitors who have registered online will be permitted into camping areas with overnight gear.

"We could have hundreds of people rock in and they will just pull up at the side of the road and pitch a tent and that's just not acceptable – it's damaging the environment and it's dangerous. They just don't pay respect to the facilities and the area."

Young women posing on the beach in Jurien Bay, Western Australia.
The breathtaking scenery make Jurien Bay a popular spot for those on social media. Source: Instagram

While he hopes to have the booking system operational by the June long weekend, he expects it's more likely to be up and running by the September school holidays.

"You can no longer just rock in and expect to get a spot... If you don't have a booking, there's no access," O'Gorman said.

"People can still obviously go in there on day trips," he added.

The shire president reiterated the local community wants "as many tourists as we can but we also have to respect the environment that we have".

WA has around 1000 free camping sites

WA is one of the most popular camping destinations with long stretches of beach and a low population making it a haven for Aussie tourists to explore.

There are around 1000 free camping sites across the state, according to RAC, with lots of free camping available in the state's national parks. Travellers can wake up overlooking the Great Australian Bight or just about every corner of the Kimberley.

In most sites campers are required to bring a portable toilet and abide by principles to "leave no trace".

"Check your campsite or rest area before you leave and collect any rubbish or spilled food. Leave nothing and consider picking up items carelessly left by others," Explore Parks WA says on its website.

Growing backlash against lazy campers

It's not the first time concerns have been raised about a backlash to messy campers at popular Aussie beaches. In December, Noosa locals feared beach camping could be banned after camping gear, including new tents and cabanas were left discarded on the sand.

Meanwhile over Christmas one NSW man took matters into his own hands, turning to social media to track down people who left behind rubbish and broken camping gear on a Lake Macquarie foreshore.

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