Camping will be reintroduced on parts of Stockton Beach from next month as part of a trial program aimed at making the beach a sustainable eco-tourism asset.
Camping on the beach has been banned since 2012 after significant damage occurred to the dune system following a massive storm.
Worimi Conservation Lands Board of Management, which manages the coastal stretch, will launch the ‘Ganyamalbaa Camping Trial’ on February 1.
Unlike the previous arrangement where camping was free and unrestricted, the ‘Ganyamalbaa Camping Trial’ will initially be restricted to 15 camp sites accommodating up to eight campers per site.
The number of camp sites may be expanded to 26 if the trial is successful.
“Camping will be introduced in stages as a ‘trial’ to allow the board to monitor impacts and adapt their camping plan as needed,” an information brochure about the trial says.
“Monitoring and adapting the approach to camping will give it the best chance of becoming a sustainable long-term visitor experience.”
“The ongoing monitoring program will track impacts and enable the best chance of camping becoming a long-term visitor experience.”
The condition of cultural sites, the frontal dune and vegetation will be monitored closely.
Visitor behaviour including increases in illegal camping will also be assessed, as will the project’s financial sustainability.
Online bookings for the camping trial will open on the 1 February 2019, with camping to commence from the 15 February 2019.
Fees to camp at Ganyamalbaa will be: base site fee (2 adults) $33.00, extra adult $16.50, child $8.00 and infants (0-4) free
Beach vehicle permits are required for vehicle entry to the Worimi Conservation Lands and are not included in the camping fee.
The location of the camping area was chosen due to the minimal number of cultural sites in the area, the close proximity of the recreational vehicle area, and the easy access from the Lavis Lane and Fern Bay four-wheel drive entrances.
The Worimi Conservation Lands Board presently has a $14million eco-tourism development before Port Stephens Council.
The project to be built near Lavis Lane would generate revenue from 4WD tours, among other activities.
Four wheel drive permits for the beach also increased on January 1 from $30 to $88.
The board said it was the first time permit fees had increased since the group was established a decade ago.
It would also bring the cost of a permit in line with similar areas.