Cow Bay residents fume as out-of-town campers swarm on beach
Double standard: Up to 50 vehicles at a time have set up camp at a reserve next to Cow Bay beach. Picture: SUPPLIED.
COW Bay residents fear a recent spate of illegal camping at a local reserve could lead to the land being declared off limits to all.
Residents of the small beach town community on the Daintree coast, north of Port Douglas, say up to 50 vehicles at a time have set up camp at a reserve next to Cow Bay beach in the past month.
Campers driving over sand dunes, building fires and leaving litter have been the main source of complaints, while people setting up tents in the carpark has also raised the ire of locals.
Businessman Richard O'Doherty said a land-use agreement negotiated with the indigenous community, the Eastern Kuku Yalanji people, had allowed locals to use the reserve for recreational purposes and for launching boats.
But he said illegal camping could put that agreement at risk.
"Basically they're doing all the things that when we negotiated the agreement were supposed to not happen," he said.
Brian Goon, who runs an accommodation business, said illegal camping had been a recurring problem but had heightened this month as festival-goers had become aware of the spot through social media after the solar eclipse.
"As they were coming back from various festivals they were contacting each other and letting them know about camping at Cow Bay beach," he said.
"But now it's out there it can happen at any stage."
Mr Goon, who is calling for a padlocked gate to be installed, said a local family had received a $500 council fine for parking a caravan on land in front of their property earlier this month while campers had been allowed to stay.
"I reckon it's a total double standard. The basic point is that it is too difficult for the council to do anything with the mob camping but they can target one local resident," he said.
Cairns Regional Council manager of environmental assessment Carole Todd said council officers were aware of the increase in illegal campers following the eclipse and had been asking them to move on.