COOBER PEDY News & Events


Would be travelers and ad-hoc campers should think twice before driving hundreds if not thousands of kilometres to remote or regional destinations to hide out for Easter as the doors to ‘non-essential travel’ slam shut.

Ad-hoc campers have been a problem for small communities in the past decade

In the lead up to the Easter long weekend and April school holidays the Department for Environment and Water advises that no camping will be permitted on Crown Land, nor in South Australian parks and reserves for the foreseeable future.

The clarification comes as members of the public have questioned if they have the right to camp on unalienated, or vacant, Crown land over the Easter period and beyond, after the closure of camping areas in National Parks and council-managed camp grounds.

DEW executive director Mike Williams said camping and camping-related activities such as overnight parking of motor vehicles, motorhomes and caravans is now prohibited on all unalienated Crown land, to protect community health and wellbeing.

“The State Government is actively discouraging all unnecessary travel across South Australia in an effort to limit the spread of COVID-19 and is asking people to cancel or reschedule any trips or holidays to regional communities this Easter,” Mr Williams said.

“Therefore it is not appropriate for people to be camping, or congregating in groups and possibly sharing facilities on unalienated, or vacant Crown Land. Authorised officers will be directing anyone doing this to leave.

Jason Wright owner at Riba’s Underground Camping at Coober Pedy said, “I am getting calls and emails asking about accommodation. I am turning them away simply because it is impossible to enforce social distancing rules in communal areas and I don’t need to be fined or sued.”

“I have gathered from forum posts, that 99% of the locals want the town “locked down, but I am telling you that people are coming”, said Mr. Wright.

DEW executive director Mike William said, “We ask that everyone stays home, and stays safe this Easter and these school holidays.”

“South Australians can still have day-outings to parks and reserves in their immediate neighbourhood, as long as they follow all State and Federal Government COVID-19 guidelines and declarations enforced in South Australia.

When the time is right, allowing camping on Crown land and in National Parks will recommence, but for the foreseeable future the prohibition will remain.

There is an opportunity now to do more for small communities, faced with the annual influx of tourists. So that a few can profit, entire communities are penalised.

“But remember, for the health and safety of our community, it’s vital that we all follow social distancing guidelines, choose a park or garden near your home, keep a safe distance from others, and practice good hygiene.”

There are varying penalties for those indulging in ”non-essential” travel during the Covid-19 crisis.

What is ‘non-essential travel’?

The Australian Government is advising that all non-essential travel should be cancelled. This includes all unnecessary travel within your own area, visiting other towns and cities and journeys interstate. If you have a trip or holiday planned, it should be cancelled.

All international travel is now banned, unless necessary for business, aid assistance or compassionate reasons.

This advice does not include travel that is part of everyday life, such as journeys to work or to the shops for essential supplies.

These steps are being taken to help slow the spread of COVID-19, in addition to other social distancing guidelines that Australians are being asked to do.

South Australia has introduced restrictions on non-essential travel. Anyone arriving in South Australia will need to self-isolate for 14 days. This includes residents who have been interstate. From 4pm Tuesday 24 March, border checkpoints will be established at 12 locations along the border, as well as airports, seaports and interstate train stations.

Travellers will be required to sign a declaration about their health and their ability to self-isolate for 14 days. Essential travellers include health workers, freight delivery and emergency services.

For more information on South Australia travel restrictions, visit the SA Health website.

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