A close-up of the damage sustained to the van while in Emerald.
A close-up of the damage sustained to the van while in Emerald.

Tourists not impressed

IS it troubled teens or bedless backpackers denting Emerald’s tourist reputation?

“Firstly I must thank Emerald for providing much appreciated ‘free’ camping next to the botanic gardens,” wrote traveller Barry Anscombe, from Rockingham in Western Australia.

“Sadly though I must say there appears to be some serious issues with the town’s local youth.”

Barry and his convoy of fellow holidaymakers from several different states parked up their vans at the gardens underneath the Vince Lester Bridge on Thursday, June 9, to eat, shower and have a good night’s sleep.

They intended to stay two days and soak up some of the town’s attractions, but their unsettling experience had them back on the Capricorn Highway and headed for their next destination the following morning.

“Throughout the night there was much ruckus from groups of youths, many seemingly in their early teens,” Barry said.

“Yet worse, our vans and motorhomes were to be pelted with full cans of coke, we assume from the bridge from a passing vehicle.

“Fortunately, most vehicles and vans went unscathed, but we can’t say the same with several serious dents to the front of our van. There was real potential for even more serious damage or physical harm to individuals outside of their vehicle at the time.”

Barry said they advised staff at the tourist information centre of their treatment, but did not otherwise pursue the matter.

Then they went for a walk around Emerald which further convinced them louts were on the loose.

“In a walk around the CBD the next morning there was broken glass all over the place, suggesting there is - along with our experiences when parked up - perhaps a problem the town needs to address?”

With that, it was time to hit the accelerator and speed away.

“We moved on from Emerald, annoyed with the damage incurred and very disappointed overall,” Barry said.

“(It’s) not the best advertisement for Emerald.”

Emerald officer-in-charge Senior Sergeant Graeme Reeves said it was known there were a number of young backpackers camping at the gardens that night, and no reports of wilful damage to account for the glass the next day.

“It does help the town having that free 24 hours at the gardens so you don’t want to discourage it, but due to it being a well-patronised area, people do push the boundaries and stay longer,” he said.

“Police do work with Main Roads and council to move on people that stay longer than 24 hours.”

Snr Sgt Reeves emphasised police would take action against anyone who threw an object out of a moving vehicle.

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