Grey nomads could soon be taking up temporary residence at three ovals across Shellharbour.
Albion Park Showground, Ron Costello Oval and Scout Willoughby Oval in Beverley Whitfield Park in Shellharbour could play host to seasonal camping if mayor Marianne Saliba gets her way.
Councillors asked staff to carry out more detailed investigations at Tuesday’s Shellharbour City Council.
In July, Cr Saliba asked staff to prepare a report on all possible open space and sportsfields within walking distance of town centres in Shellharbour that could be converted into “Seasonal Camping Areas”, for use outside of sports seasons.
The self-confessed grey nomad said she was pleased to see the idea move another step closer.
“Creating free or low-cost camping locations in the area is a goal I have had for some time,” Cr Saliba said.
“The new report will check what is needed at the three locations before they can be used for camping.”
Cr Saliba said she was inspired by her travels in a van around Australia last year and could see the tourism potential of creating seasonal camping grounds.
“Campers come into towns and spend money at supermarkets, restaurants, laundromats, medical centres, newspaper agencies and more,” she said.
“If we open up the uses of our land then we can attract people to the area.
“Why wouldn’t people want to visit our beautiful city?”
Sites were assessed based on being within 500 metres of city centres, zoning and planning requirements, seasonal availability, existing amenities, sewerage availability, vehicle access, security and proximity to residential areas.
Con O’Keefe Oval, King Mickey Park and Shellharbour War Memorial Park were deemed not suitable.
Cr Saliba said campers would park in adjoining car parks at the showground and ovals and therefore would not damage the sporting fields or grounds.
“Who knows, allowing camping near Ron Costello Oval could mean sporting clubs could open up their canteen to sell items like milk and bread for the campers which would help fund the clubs’ maintenance of the grounds,” she said.
“Once cricket season is over, campers would be able to park at Scout Willoughby Oval and they would be right across from the ocean pool.
“I want to see the grounds better utilised around the city.”
The camping areas would likely be only for a short term stay, which could be self-regulated or monitored by council staff, so travellers did not out stay their welcome.
Dump points to allow the disposal of sewerage and grey water would need to be provided.
Cr Saliba said she did not believe the camping areas would affect business for established camping facilities.
“People who want to camp for free or low cost do want to go to caravan parks,” she said.
“If anything, when they come to the area and stay for a couple of nights they may want to stay for longer so they will go to a park to access power or other facilities.
“This idea will probably improve the prospects for caravan parks.”