How Aussies are going back to their camping roots after coronavirus

Australia goes bush: How the sales of 4WDs are soaring as caravan and campgrounds experience an 185 per cent increase in bookings in one week

  • Campsites across Australia are experiencing a dramatic surge in overnight stays
  • One holiday park on the NSW Mid-North Coast had bookings until Easter 2021 
  • With local travel restrictions lifted, families are eager to get out and explore
  • International travel is still banned which means local holidays are the only option
  • Four-wheel drives are also dominating the car sales charts with some surprises 
  • Experts told Daily Mail Australia families had ‘had enough’ of being stuck home
  • There were fears for the future of the country’s $60.8m a year tourism industry
  • Here’s how to help people impacted by Covid-19

Australians are rediscovering the great outdoors and classic family holidays, with campgrounds booked out across the country as four-wheel drive sales soar.

Road trips are undergoing a resurgence as the fear of a second wave of coronavirus keeps the national border closed. 

In New South Wales, where regional holidays have been allowed again since June 1, occupancy rates at caravan parks climbed by 185 per cent in just one week, new data from the Caravan Industry Association of Australia showed. 

Victoria enjoyed a similarly impressive 105 per cent weekly increase this month – a level almost double the national average increase of 61 per cent despite the cold, winter weather.

The lure of exploring beaches and bush tracks has seen sales of one four-wheel drive model surge by a 334 per cent in one month, despite an overall weakness in demand for new cars.

A woman enjoys the delights of Jervis Bay (pictured) on the New South Wales South Coast, which boasts many enviable campgrounds and a national park

A woman enjoys the delights of Jervis Bay (pictured) on the New South Wales South Coast, which boasts many enviable campgrounds and a national park

Lane Poole Reserve in Western Australia (pictured) is fully booked this weekend thanks to a surge in demand after coronavirus restrictions lifted

Lane Poole Reserve in Western Australia (pictured) is fully booked this weekend thanks to a surge in demand after coronavirus restrictions lifted

Ian Edwards, who runs the Flynns Beach Caravan Park at Port Macquarie on the NSW Mid-North Coast, said their phones had been ringing constantly since regional holiday travel was allowed again.

He even received bookings for Easter next year. 

‘As soon as there was an announcement made that travel would be allowed from June 1, we immediately started getting calls for all throughout the year,’ he told Daily Mail Australia.

‘And even up to next Easter we’ve had people booking.

‘I just think that as soon as people knew they’d be allowed to travel, they wanted to lock in any period that they were thinking about. 

‘We’re not booked out every week, but the weekends are looking really good.

The Basin at Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park in NSW (pictured) a popular spot on Sydney's far northern outskirts

The Basin at Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park in NSW (pictured) a popular spot on Sydney’s far northern outskirts

Cape Range National Park in Western Australia (pictured) has also received a surge of visitors, but local officials have warned people to keep social distancing

Cape Range National Park in Western Australia (pictured) has also received a surge of visitors, but local officials have warned people to keep social distancing

‘The long weekend we just had was chocker, and this weekend is full as well.

‘There are people travelling who just wanted to get out and about. But yeah, we’re taking bookings for the whole year.’

His caravan park has 26 powered sites, 18 un-powered sites and 17 holiday cabins – all of which were proving very popular. 

The NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service told Daily Mail Australia its June bookings were triple the level of mid-2019.  

‘Most campgrounds were fully booked over June long weekend, with many locations selling out on the first day the booking system became live,’ a spokesman said.

The popularity of nature isn’t just an east coast phenomenon with visitor numbers soaring at South Australian campgrounds and national parks.   

During the Queen’s Birthday long weekend in June, 86 of the state’s 153 campgrounds were completely booked out, with the rest close to capacity.

Cape Range National Park in Western Australia (pictured), more than 1,000km from Perth, boasts spectacular rocky gorges carved by ancient rivers

Cape Range National Park in Western Australia (pictured), more than 1,000km from Perth, boasts spectacular rocky gorges carved by ancient rivers

Within just 24 hours of campgrounds reopening, more than 900 bookings had been made.

Tourism is worth $8.1billion a year to South Australia, with $50 million being injected into the provincial state’s economy during that long weekend alone.

‘What we are seeing very clearly is that we have all had enough of being at home, and now is the time to get out and see our great state,’  South Australian Tourism Commission chief executive Rodney Harrex said.

‘It’s great to hear that so many South Australians are rediscovering – or in some cases discovering for the first time – their own state.’

The Flinders Ranges, the Outback, Yorke Peninsula, Fleurieu Peninsula, the Riverland, the Barossa and the Adelaide Hills had all reported high visitor numbers.

Booderee National Park at Jervis Bay on the NSW South Coast (pictured) is particularly popular for its white sand beaches and remote walks

Booderee National Park at Jervis Bay on the NSW South Coast (pictured) is particularly popular for its white sand beaches and remote walks

Flinders Ranges National Park in South Australia (pictured) is reporting high visitor numbers, the state's tourism board told Daily Mail Australia, with many grounds sold out

Flinders Ranges National Park in South Australia (pictured) is reporting high visitor numbers, the state’s tourism board told Daily Mail Australia, with many grounds sold out

‘Accommodation was booked out, cellar doors had trouble keeping up with demand, and over half of the state’s national park campgrounds were booked out,’ Mr Harrex said.

The South Australian Tourism Commission’s website had also seen a 52 per cent increase in traffic, compared to the same time last year. 

Andrew Lilley, who owns a camping store at Bunbury in Western Australia, enjoyed a sales boom.

‘As soon as restrictions dropped off [sales] really picked up and people really started to get out and enjoy the bush,’ he said.

‘A lot more families are getting out for the first time and starting to enjoy WA as opposed to going to Bali for a holiday.’ 

The Suzuki Jimny (pictured) racked up a 334 per cent increase in sales during April as families rushed to buy four-wheel drives for local camping trips

The Suzuki Jimny (pictured) racked up a 334 per cent increase in sales during April as families rushed to buy four-wheel drives for local camping trips

Cape Range National Park in WA (pictured) has reopened, and is particularly popular with adventurers looking for off-the-grid camping

Cape Range National Park in WA (pictured) has reopened, and is particularly popular with adventurers looking for off-the-grid camping

Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Friday afternoon announced an easing of more COVID-19 restrictions – a precursor to interstate travel. 

He revealed Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk had agreed to open the state’s border on July 10, after recently insisting on a September deadline in a heated media conference.

Her South Australian counterpart Steven Marshall is reopening his state’s border on July 20.

With Australia’s economy sinking into recession for the first time in 29 years, as a result of the COVID-19 lockdowns, tourism is regarded as a key part of generating a revival in consumer spending and employment.

Marrinup Townsite at Marrinup State Forest (pictured) in Western Australia has no spots left for the next few weekends

Marrinup Townsite at Marrinup State Forest (pictured) in Western Australia has no spots left for the next few weekends

Booderee National Park at Jervis Bay on the NSW South Coast (pictured) is also a popular haunt, just a few hours south of Sydney

Booderee National Park at Jervis Bay on the NSW South Coast (pictured) is also a popular haunt, just a few hours south of Sydney

In 2018-19, tourism generated $60.8billion, with the industry employing five per cent of Australia’s workforce – or 666,000 people. 

The coronavirus crisis is still deterring Australians from making big purchases.

Car sales in May were 35.3 per cent weaker compared with a year earlier marking the biggest drop for that time of year since 1991, Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries data showed. 

Despite the bad news, there were some surprises. 

Marrinup Townsite at Marrinup State Forest (pictured) in Western Australia is booked out this weekend

Marrinup Townsite at Marrinup State Forest (pictured) in Western Australia is booked out this weekend

Sales of the small Suzuki Jimny four-wheel drive bucked the trend to surge by 334 per cent in April compared with March. 

The new Toyota RAV4 was Australia’s third most popular car in May, with the larger Toyota LandCruiser taking the No. 4 position. 

Utes continued to hold the top spots, with the Toyota HiLux at No. 1 followed by the Ford Ranger.

Both models are available with a four-wheel drive option. 

Lenore Fletcher, the spokeswoman for the motoring industry group, said motorists were choosing four-wheel drives for their towing capacity.

‘People are now going to start buying caravans so they can have their holidays while self contained and following social distancing rules,’ she told Daily Mail Australia.

‘And if you are doing that, then this is the sort of vehicle you need to tow them.’ 

While the Toyota Landcruiser did drop slightly in sales, it went from Australia's 15th most popular car in March to the fourth best-selling car in May

While the Toyota Landcruiser did drop slightly in sales, it went from Australia’s 15th most popular car in March to the fourth best-selling car in May

CORONAVIRUS RESTRICTIONS EASED IN YOUR STATE

The federal government has announced a three-phase plan to ease coronavirus restrictions in the coming months, with the states and territories to determine their own timings.

NEW SOUTH WALES

NSW – What you can do now:

 * Pubs, restaurants and cafes up to 50 people subject to the four-square metre rule, patrons must be seated

* Weddings up to 20 guests and funerals up to 50

* Churches and places of worship up to 50 people

* Beauty salons for 10 people subject to the four square metre rule, magazines removed from waiting areas 

• Museums, galleries, zoos, aquariums and libraries reopen, subject to four square metre rule 

* Travel within the state allowed   

* Outdoor gatherings allowed for a maximum of 10 people 

* Public schools are open but commuter caps remain on Sydney buses, trains and ferries. 

* Playgrounds and outdoor gym equipment use with caution 

 * Beaches open with restrictions including Bondi, Clovelly, Coogee and Maroubra, as well as some ocean pools

VICTORIA – what you can do now

* 20 people allowed inside restaurants, cafes, the dining areas of pubs and in the home subject to physical distancing 

• Zoos, galleries, museums, national institutions, historic sites, outdoor amusement parks, arcades, libraries and community facilities can open for 20 people maximum, subject to four square metre rule 

• Beauty therapy, spas, tattoo studios, massage parlours to reopen for 20 people subject to the four square metre rule

• Market stalls to re-open subject to four square metre and distancing rules

• Drive-in cinemas to reopen 

• Place of worship: up to 20 people

• Weddings up to 20 people not including the celebrant and couple

• Funerals up to 50 people not including staff, subject to four square metre rule

*  Overnight stays in hotels, motels, camping and caravan parks

• Skate parks and playgrounds reopen  

* Schools open June 9 with a staggered return for students starting with students in Prep and Years 1, 2, 11 and 12 on May 26.

* Year 11 and 12 students will sit exams from November 9 to December 2. 

* Indoor and outdoor swimming pools for 20 people with a limit of three people per lane

* Outdoor group sport for 20 people

* AFL begins on June 11 

VICTORIA FROM JUNE 22 

* 50  people allowed inside restaurants, cinemas, concert venues, theatres, cafes and pubs subject to 1.5m distance rule

 * Alpine resorts open to skiers 

• Indoor sports centres and venues up to 20 people subject to the four square metre rule, group activities limited to 10 people

• Gyms reopen with up to 20 people per space, subject to four square metre rule and up to 10 people per group 

• Galleries, museums, national institutions, historic sites, outdoor amusement parks, zoos and arcades allowed up to 50 visitors

* Up to 100 people to be allowed in enclosed spaces in mid-July

QUEENSLAND

What you can do now: 

* Unlimited travel within the state including overnight stays 

* Indoor gyms reopen and from Friday June 5 can have up to 20 people 

* Restaurants, cafes, pubs, clubs can open for up to 20 people. From June 5, large venues can host up to 20 people in each separate area

* Shopping for non-essential items 

* Public school students in grades 2 to 10 have resumed full-time classes with no commuter caps on public transport  

• Some beauty therapies including nail salons for up to 10 people 

• Libraries, playgrounds, skate parks, outdoor gyms, open homes and auctions open for up to 10 people

• Weddings up to 10 people

• Funerals up to 20 people indoors, 30 outdoors 

• Public pools and lagoons up to 10 people and with an approved plan for more than 10 people

• Non-contact sport for up to 10 people 

Queensland – what you can do from June 12: 

* Subject to the four square metre rule and social distancing, up to 20 people will be allowed to gather indoors and outdoors 

* Museums, art galleries, libraries, historic sites, outdoor amusement parks, zoos, arcades, concert venues, theatres, arenas and stadiums up to 20 people 

* Non-contact indoor and outdoor community sport, personal training sessions, parks, gyms, health clubs, skate parks and yoga studies can all have up to 20 people 

* Weddings, places of worship and religious ceremonies up to 20 people

* Hiking, camping and other recreational activities 

* Open homes and auctions up to 20 people

* State borders remain closed    

SOUTH AUSTRALIA

What you can do now 

* Stage two easing of restrictions began June 1 allowing more customers to be served and cinemas to reopen

* Large venues can host up to 80 people in groups of 20 provided they can keep the groups in discrete rooms within the business 

* Pubs allowed to serve drinks without a meal but customer must be seated 

* Gyms, indoor fitness centres, cinemas, galleries, museums and theatres can open with a maximum of 20 people

 • Beauty salons, tattoo and massage parlours can re-open subject to four square metre rule

 * Funerals of up to 20 people indoors and 30 people outdoors plus those officiating

* Parks, playgrounds and national parks are open with hotels, camp sites and caravan parks open subject to the four square metre rule 

* Driving lessons allowed, subject to social distancing

* Students are already back in school full time

* Non-contact sport can resume but contact sports must wait till June 25 

WESTERN AUSTRALIA

What you can do now: Phase Two (began May 18) 

* Cafes, restaurants and meal service inside pubs, bars, clubs, can serve up to 20 customers

* Indoor and outdoor gatherings of up to 20 people

* Weddings and funerals of up to 20 guests indoors or 30 outdoors 

* Students are already back in school full time.

* Fitness classes, pools, non-contact sport allowed up to 20 people

* Churches, religious houses, libraries and community centres up to 20 people

WA – What you can do coming soon: 

* June 6: four square metre rule relaxed to two square metres for both indoor and outdoor venues 

* Gyms and real estate auctions resume, beauty salons, arcades, galleries, museums, cinemas, zoos, food courts, playgrounds and wildlife and amusement parks to open. 

*  Public gathering limits raised to 100, including for cafes, pubs and restaurants. Venues with divided spaces can have up to 300  

* WA to reopen almost all intrastate borders on Friday June 5 except for the Kimberley, parts of the East Pilbara and the Shire of Ngaanyatjarraku to protect vulnerable indigenous communities 

* Further easing of restrictions expected on June 8

* State border remains closed

TASMANIA

What you can do now: 

* Restaurants, cafes, food service inside pubs, clubs and RSL: up to 10 people

* Aged care home residents can now have two visitors once a day

* Funerals up to 20 people indoors, 30 outdoors

* Visitors to your home: up to 5 people

*  Libraries and government centres: up to 10 people

* Kindergarten to Year Six students and Years 11 and 12 are back in school with the remainder to return on June 9 

* TAFE and training centres open to small groups of students for practical learning and assessment

* Parks, playgrounds, pools and outdoor fitness equipment opened for up to 10 people. National parks open only those who live less than 30km away 

Tasmania – what you can do from June 15: Stage Two  

* Up to 20 people can gather indoors and outdoors including in restaurants, cinemas and museums

• Beauty parlours, tanning salons, tattoo studios can open 

• Gyms and bootcamps for up to 20 people

• Funerals of up to 50 people

• Open homes and auctions with up to 20 people

* Parks and outdoor fitness equipment for up to 20 people  

• Outdoor community sports for up to 20 people

• Indoor sports including pools  for up to 20 people but no spectators

• Intrastate travel restrictions lifted, hotels and caravan parks open, camping allowed

* State border remains closed

What you can do in Tasmania from July 13: Stage Three

* Aged care residents can have up to five visitors, multiple times each week

* Gatherings of between 50 and 100 people 

• Bars, nightclubs, casinos and gaming to open

• Markets and food courts to open

• State border remains closed

NORTHERN TERRITORY

What you can do now: 

* The NT has relaxed restrictions on parks, golf, fishing and swimming.

* Indoor activities are allowed with a two-hour limit 

* Restaurants and bars can reopen to serve food with a two-hour limit, with entertainment venues to come.

* National parks are open for camping and swimming 

• Beauty salons, gyms, libraries and places of religious worship open 

 * Gatherings up to 10 people subject to social distancing  

• Shopping centre food courts can serve food

• Non-contact sports with indoor activities under a two-hour time limit

• Art galleries, museums, public memorials, public historic sites, zoos and wildlife facilities are open.

* Restricted access to indigenous communities remain in place until at least June 5

* Students are back at school full time

* Territory borders remain closed

NT – what you can do from midday, June 5:  

• The two-hour limit on indoor activities is removed

• Bars and clubs will be allowed to operate without food being compulsory,

• Cinemas and entertainment venues can open

• Team sports such as football and netball allowed 

• Sporting arenas and stadiums can open with seating in an approved configuration 

• All licensed gaming activities including TAB open

* Travel to restricted indigenous communities is possible after June 5 

AUSTRALIAN CAPITAL TERRITORY

What you can do now 

* Visit NSW for a holiday

* Large clubs allowed more than 150 people, with a limit of 20 in each room

* Outdoor gatherings of up to 10 people allowed. Restrictions on sport and recreation eased

* Weddings and funerals have a 20 guest limit inside, and 30 outside 

* Choirs, bands and orchestras can resume practice and national institutions can open to 20 people at a time

* Students in Years 3, 4 and 10 back in classrooms

* School Years 5, 6, 8 and 9 to return on June 2   

STILL OPEN ACROSS THE COUNTRY

* Supermarkets, pharmacies, banks, public transport, most state schools, hairdressers, petrol stations, postal and freight services, bottle shops, newsagents, retail shops

 Source: AAP, wires. Correct as of 1 June 2020

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