NO CAMPING: Helidon residents Jean and Lloyd Warr with Vincent Tempone at James Norman Hedges Park in December 2019. Picture: Dominic Elsome
NO CAMPING: Helidon residents Jean and Lloyd Warr with Vincent Tempone at James Norman Hedges Park in December 2019. Picture: Dominic Elsome

How a Lockyer rest area became pandemic camp ground

AT THE height of COVID-19 travel restrictions and lockdown measures, a Lockyer Valley rest stop became an impromptu camping ground, according to local residents.

James Norman Hedges park in Helidon was last year designated an overnight camping area by Lockyer Valley Regional Council.

The move was hailed as “common sense” by councillors, as the site had been a rest area for many years and the move was simply to formalise the arrangement.

But the decision drew condemnation from neighbours, including Jean Warr, who lives directly opposite the park.

She claimed many campers abused the facility.

READ MORE: Residents: Leave the rest stop for the truckies, not campers

Ms Warr has told the Gatton Star the issues have only become worse since the decision last year, with the site used “every night”.

“Even through the travel restrictions (campers) were there – we had people living there,” Ms Warr said.

Issues at the park with overnight campers have dated back years, with Ms Warr telling the Gatton Star last year campers had left dirty nappies behind, had showered in full view of houses and had stayed at the site for weeks.

READ MORE: Council to turn Hwy park area into overnight camping ground

She said travellers overstaying the imposed 20-hour time limit remains an issue and council was “doing nothing” to stop it.

“They will not do anything, they will not police it,” she said.

“If you’re going to have a 20-hour (limit) you’ve got to have it policed.”

She claims safety concerns have also been ignored by the council, with trucks also using the area as a rest stop and regularly pulling past vans with children staying in them.

Ms Warr believed the council no longer took her concerns seriously.

“The council have just laughed and tell us ‘just suck it up princess’ is exactly virtually what they’ve said to us,” she said.

READ MORE: The odd reason a council had to debate a sign’s location

Lockyer Valley Regional Council infrastructure portfolio councillor Janice Holstein said the site was not managed by the council, but it had investigated some complaints.

“James Norman Hedges Park is a designated driver fatigue management rest stop managed by the Department of Main Roads and Transport,” Cr Holstein said.

“The council has investigated two complaints in the past four months regarding people camping at the site, however the alleged campers had already moved on.”


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