Southcombe Caravan Park to end pre-Folkie "tarping down" of unpowered sites

Part of the packed Southcombe Park caravan park during the Port Fairy Folk Festival.
Part of the packed Southcombe Park caravan park during the Port Fairy Folk Festival.

THE habit of pre-claiming unpowered sites at Southcombe Caravan Park ahead of the Port Fairy Folk Festival has been brought to an end.

The practice, known as “tarping down”, was a uniquely Port Fairy tradition, but one which had become a growing problem for the camping ground’s management.

It involved visitors staking out a site in the unpowered section of Southcombe Caravan Park up to a week before the Folkie by pegging down a tarp or setting up an unmanned tent.

The fee for a “vacant day” was $21, compared to the usual unpowered site nightly rate of $45. 

The unpowered section of the camping ground is reserved for Folkie ticket holders but is unmarked, making it difficult to pre-book specific areas.

With the first round of tickets about to go on sale to subscribers on Friday, prospective Folkie-goers were greeted by the following message on the Southcombe Caravan Park website:

“Please note there are no vacant days or tarping down allowed. Full fees apply upon entry.”

Moyne Shire’s corporate business and tourism manager Adam Boyle said the decision to end the practice of tarping down and vacant days was a result of negative feedback from visitors to the council-run Southcombe Caravan Park.

“The council previously allowed an uncommon practice in the tourist park industry of allowing early site access for campers to pre-tarp their camp site for the Folkie at Southcombe Caravan Park,” Mr Boyle said.

“This process resulted in ongoing customer complaints, with some campers tarping excessive areas, claiming camp sites in non-camping areas, and also into others’ pre-booked sites.

“This created inequity and conflict when campers arrived for the actual festival.

“This practice also reduced site availability for actual holiday-makers visiting Port Fairy prior to the Folk Festival and hindered park staff to adequately maintain grounds in the lead up to the event.

“Our unpowered sites are limited and reserved for festival ticket holders only, so to ensure fair and best access to sites, our guests are urged to book festival tickets promptly to secure a site.

“As always, we encourage visitors to arrive early at Port Fairy to enjoy all the wonderful tourism assets our shire has to offer in the lead up to the festival.”