Campers and conservationists dig in to save iconic Mooloolaba caravan park despite knockbacks
Campers and conservationists are fighting the odds to stop the Mooloolaba caravan park from being turned into a public open space and coastal walkway.
Sunshine Coast local John Erbacher is leading a crowdfunding push to have the site heritage listed, and believes successfully registering it could compel the Sunshine Coast Council to keep it as a caravan park.
But Deputy Mayor Chris Thompson said heritage listing would not affect council's plans to close the 34-site beachfront park in June 2017.
"That really doesn't prevent us from closing it as a caravan park. You can heritage list the site but you can't heritage list the use," he said.
Australia-wide people know about this park, it's an amazing park.Cheryl Cook, 38-year veteran of Mooloolaba caravan park
"The heritage listing aspect is not a valid argument."
Mr Erbacher said he was in discussions with the Queensland Heritage Council to clarify what registering the site with them meant.
He also is lobbying the State Government to protect the caravan park.
"Obviously the local council leases the land from the State Government, and the State Government can put any restriction on it that it likes as to the proposed use of the land," Mr Erbacher said.
"It can become ultimately a political issue at the state level."
Department of Heritage says listing will not protect site
In a statement to the ABC, the Department of Environment and Heritage Protection agreed with Cr Thompson's interpretation of the issue.
"Heritage listing would not compel the local council to keep operating the caravan park," a spokesperson said.
"As Cr Thompson observes, heritage places are often adaptively reused and repurposed for new uses."
Mr Erbacher said he would continue to fight to protect the caravan park because "holidaying at the beach and beachside camping is something people have been doing for a long time".
He said the local community and domestic and international tourists would suffer by losing such an asset.
"It's not necessarily a wave pool [that people come to the coast for], it's these natural traditions that Australians have been known for," he said.
"I don't think Cr Thompson is quite on the mark."
Campers fear loss of culture
Brisbane's Bruce May said the caravan park had been the annual meeting point for a large group of old friends for many years.
"It's a time where we rekindle friendships. Our times with family are special and we really look forward to the time we spend here," he said.
Cheryl Cook has been holidaying at the park for 38 years and said the park had been an important holiday destination for local families for nearly 100 years.
"Australia-wide people know about this park, it's an amazing park," she said.
Veteran Meredith Moore, of Brisbane, who has been visiting for 44 years, said the park helped emphasise how important families were.
"Our society's breaking down family-wise and when you come to this park you will see families," she said.
Her husband Max said locals were welcome at the park as they would be if high-rise apartments were built on the land.
"I know there's an argument that says a lot of locals can't use it because we use it, but that applies the same to high-rises," he said.
"You can't walk up to a high-rise without a booking, and so we book."
Source: ABC News