The Easter camping surge has again highlighted the environmental threat caused by the significant number of campers staying at key spots in South Australia’s Eyre Peninsula.
Perlubie Beach and Greenly Beach are two areas currently put under tremendous pressure by tourists.
More than 100 campers and caravans have been observed at Perlubie Beach, a significant increase over recent years.
Like other areas, the region is faced with the challenge of needing visitors to aid struggling businesses while also having the desire to protect the peninsula’s natural beauty.
Eyre Peninsula Tour Operator Craig Haslam informed the ABC that maybe the time has come to establish limits.
“Perlubie has been smashed – literally smashed – for a long time, and people are going there because it gives them that extra bit of freedom, rather than actually being in a campground, but we need to monitor it, and we need to manage it,” he said.
“As we grow, that’s our challenge — how do we continue to develop and grow the destination, but at the same time keeping the same values that are important to us as a region?”
The Streaky Bay Council has recently expressed similar concerns to the state government responsible for the beach, highlighting the lack of infrastructure. It seeks to assume the management of the beach from the government.
The staggering number of people spending time on the beaches during Easter could increase the urgency of this request.
Streaky Bay Mayor Travis Barber told the ABC that the growth in visitors was a good thing. However, sustainability in the region is essential.
“The growing population of the destination as a campsite is placing significant pressure on the beach, and we’re reaching a tipping point in terms of sustainability,” he said.
The Regional Development Australia (RDA) Eyre Peninsula Tourism Development Manager Annabelle Hender told the ABC that the volume of visitors was creating “environmental pressure.”
“Just trampling, vehicles driving off-road — it can disrupt birdlife that nest on the beaches,” she said. “There’s not necessarily one vehicle that causes the trouble, or one visitor, but it’s an increased pressure when you have multiple or an increased number of tourists all using the one space.”
Hender said the RDA was working through the Eyes on Eyre program to increase infrastructure at campsites.
“We feel like we do have the solution — we have campgrounds like Sheringa and Walkers Rock that have been brought onto this online booking program,” Hender said.
“That is a way we can manage capacity at those sites … we know we have this model that we have trialed and tested in Elliston that is ready to be implemented in Perlubie and Greenly Beach.”
This article originally appeared on The Grey Nomads.