Congratulations to Frank and Helen Haynes for their frank and fearless assessment of Bega’s shortfalls as an RV stopover (BDN 28/12/12).
I agree with their sentiments entirely.
As fellow travellers, my husband and I have long been disappointed in the lack of initiative shown by our council and chamber of commerce.
Some years ago, I took our concerns to the council pointing out the emerging RV market, its significance to future tourism and the need to plan for this growth.
The response was so indifferent I could see no point in pursuing the matter further.
Yes, we RVers do telegraph the good and bad towns and I’m afraid Bega is not considered RV-friendly.
Apart from the Heritage Centre, there is really nothing to tempt one to stop.
No accessible park, no public toilets, no barbecues, water or shade, and of course no dump point.
Environmentally, the dump point is high on the list of priorities, but siting it in a caravan park is not always acceptable.
We, as free campers, do not feel comfortable accessing this facility when it is on private property.
Like Frank and Helen, we have delighted in the lengths to which some townships go to make visitors feel welcome and valued.
Small outback villages with maybe a dozen houses and a handful of residents offer spotless toilets, some with hot water and soap.
One even surprised us with piped music.
At one stop, the dump point was so much part of a beautiful little park we were reluctant to use it for the purpose it was intended.
So poignant is the pride and caring shown by these communities, the memories will stay with us forever.
Will we return? You betcha!
Naturally, we reciprocate generously with our patronage.
Recently while free camping for a couple of days at Lake Forbes, we calculated our expenditure in the town at over $400.
Considering there were 40 units on site, the impact on the commercial sector must be significant.
I am reluctant to cast dispersions on our beautiful Valley, but to take advantage of the tourist dollar we must acknowledge this growing phenomenon and address its needs as soon as possible.
No doubt a good many families in the Bega Valley would have had their Christmas celebrations ruined by the untimely arrival of season’s greetings from the electricity bandits at Country Energy?
Our family’s contribution to this State Government-run criminal enterprise averaged $12.16 a day during 2012, with another $1.20 a day in GST going to the thieves in Canberra for good measure.
While we are comforted to know that our neighbours in Sydney paid only $10.50 a day (plus $1.05 to Canberra) for the same service and our country cousins in Nowra, Wollongong, Goulburn, Bowral and Orange paid even less at $9.07 a day (plus $0.91 for Canberra), it’s really hard to accept the notion that electricity is an “essential service”, given the NSW Government bilks more than $1billion a year from helpless consumers in the process, while Canberra rubs salt into the wound by pocketing another $100million in GST revenue, simply for looking the other way.
While the electricity scam is undoubtedly the greatest fraud perpetrated on Australians since the days of the Rum Corps, there is not a word from Andrew Constance or Mike Kelly as to what they intend to do to end this obscene scam.
Even more surprising and disappointing is the deafening silence displayed by consumers in the face of this blatant fraud.
In the words of Albert Einstein, “The world is a dangerous place to live; not because of the people who are evil, but because of the people who don’t do anything about it.”
The Bega Valley Shire Council and the Bega Chamber of Commerce can make excuses about dump points, flood areas and so on, and “let’s all wait for the bypass” - or it can take this opportunity and move swiftly to ensure Bega becomes a stop-off point for the ever-increasing number of RV and motorhome travellers.
The term “free camping” means people have the freedom to camp, outside of caravan parks, though many stay in parks after a good look around and these people get to spend their money on a wide range of services and businesses.
The minimal initial expenditure would soon be recouped as word spreads.
We have been surprised at the quality of amenities offered in other towns.
For $10 we stayed in one place offering a dump point, toilets, hot showers, washing and cooking areas, though we are self-sufficient.
On our trip last winter, we consulted the appropriate books and planned our trip, staying the majority in parks, but certainly checking out the caravan-friendly towns.
Sometimes, travellers just need to be able to park easily, especially the bigger rigs, and take a break, have a coffee.
It’s a win-win situation, but do we have the people to make it happen?
I also suggest that some businesses could offer, through the Heritage Centre, some discounted deals to entice and get the ball rolling.
Bega is a beautiful area with great people who would benefit from the increased tourism.
I refer to the headline in the BDN (28/12/12) entitled “Bega’s tourist void” and the complaining article by Frank Haynes about no free facilities in the Bega Valley for itinerant caravan owners.
I believe this article is a perfect example of the problems that we all face with an ageing population that have retired early, and have nothing to do but examine or judge critically everything they see or do.
Ivor G Williams
Take control of health
The new year is traditionally a time for taking stock, reflecting on the past year and making resolutions for the year ahead.
If your health is your main concern, you may be thinking it’s a good time to see your doctor for a check-up.
However, your health is largely in your own hands and the only person who can put healthy habits into practice is you.
Taking control of your health has many benefits.
One of the main contributors to stress is feeling out of control.
If you blame your partner, your income, your job or your family for your poor health then your stress levels will soar.
Taking control will reduce your stress and, in turn, increase your sense of wellbeing.
There’s another important issue we need to think about that contributes to poor health, and it’s called sitting.
When you think about it, we sit most of the time.
We sit getting to work, we sit at our desks at work, we sit when we eat and we sit watching TV.
Too much sitting is a health hazard, and a good new year’s resolution is to move more - look for opportunities to walk, stand and be active.
We all need a better balance in our lives.
A weekly routine of healthy eating, regular exercise and social contact will enhance your health, energy levels and enjoyment of life.
Involving other people in your new year’s resolution is a good idea - start a daily walk with a friend, join a healthy cooking class or challenge a mate to give up smoking or cut back on the alcohol.
The Department of Veterans’ Affairs (DVA) has a wealth of healthy ideas and information.
Visit www.dva.gov.au and search for “health and wellbeing”.
There’s information about day clubs in your local area, where to find interesting physical and social activities, a wealth of mental health resources and much more.
You can also call DVA on 133 254, or 1800 555 254 from regional Australia.
Finally, let’s be positive about ourselves and who we are because, in reality, we are very well off.
It’s a truism that it’s much easier to complain than to applaud.
Dr Graeme Killer
Principal medical adviser
Department of Veterans’ Affairs
Rapt with support
My sincere thanks goes to the management and staff of Priceline for their great support during my days wrapping Christmas gifts in their store.
Donations went to Can Assist Bega.
Thank you everyone who gave generously in these hard times, your support is welcome.
We are locals helping locals.
Kay Crocker- George