Nudist retreat hits new hazard
THEY came through the Cobraball bushfire unscathed but the operators of a naturist retreat at Bondoola are now facing a new battle for survival.
Owners of Savannah Park Retreat, Charles and Allyson Rogers, on Tuesday bared all figuratively in a comprehensive deputation to Livingstone Shire Council where they said they could not afford the more than $60,000 in infrastructure charges required to meet the council's compliance regime.
"We can't do that, that's just going to force us into a situation where we don't know where we're going to go," Mr Rogers told council.
The Cobraball Rd tourist park was established in 2000 and the Rogers' purchased it in late 2017 after visiting on a holiday from their hometown of Dubbo.
"We both had pretty good jobs ... but we came here and fell in love with the place," Mr Rogers said.
"There was a little for sale sign on the wall in the rec room they had out there, and we looked at each other and said why not?"
Mr Rogers said since purchasing the property the couple had completed a lot of facility upgrades and visitor numbers from Australia and internationally had increased.
"We have spent all our savings on improving buildings and replacing sewerage facilities on the grounds and it (business) is not a big income earner," he said.
"We survive on it and Ally has part-time work. Look, we can afford the development application fees but the infrastructure fees are $63,700."
The retreat currently incorporates 21 camping sites, a cabin, house, amenities and a communal area.
It only recently came to the council's attention through a related plumbing application made over the site that the tourist park did not hold land use approval to operate there.
"The retreat has never been previously made to be compliant until we undertook rectification works to do the right thing and here we are today," Mr Rogers said during his deputation.
The relevant council officer has recommended the council not waive or reduce the development application fees or infrastructure charges for the park.
"Basically what we're trying to do is just get ourselves compliant," Mr Rogers said.
"We're not doing anything more than what's already there and has been there for a long time."
Mr Rogers also explained to councillors the concept of naturism.
"It's a lifestyle and harmony with nature, expressed through social nudity," he said.
"And it's characterised by self-respect of people with different opinions and of the environment.
"Our clients are generally over 60 years of age in our busy period.
"Everything is communal, because people don't have a problem with nudity, but there is privacy."
Mr Rogers said the retreat was particularly popular with Dutch tourists and from the time they took over the business in October 2017 to the end of last year, 540 people had stayed at the park (not including return visitors). This year a further 186 visitors had stayed there.
On Tuesday councillors decided to let the matter lay on the table for a decision to be made at a later date.