Walpole landowner not a happy camper

By Chris Thomson | posted on November 18, 2017

A WALPOLE landowner will be banned from camping more than three nights a month on his 1407sqm block if the recommendation of a shire official is approved by Manjimup councillors tonight.

Perth-based Graham Raper, 56, has owned his block in Boronia Ridge Estate, on Walpole’s western outskirts, for more than a decade.

He has strong family ties through the shire, including a cousin, Manjimup councillor Lyn Daubney, who he has listed as one of 14 potential campers on the property.

“It’s been the Australian way for a long time,” Mr Raper said of building a holiday house in stages.

“It’s not like I go down there and disturb neighbours.

“I basically keep to myself.”

After someone complained to the shire in April that he was camping in his shed on the Howe Street block, Mr Raper applied to camp on the block for periods up to three months in any given year.

He says he camps in a caravan, not his shed as alleged by the complainant, and has a separate ablution block with toilet, shower and hand basin connected to Walpole’s deep sewerage system.

Nevertheless, Shire Principal Environmental Health Officer Evon Smith has recommended Mr Raper’s application be refused.

Mr Smith has told shire councillors the residential block is not suitable for camping, and approving Mr Raper’s application would set an undesirable precedent.

Despite Mr Raper’s submission to the contrary, Mr Smith advises there is no record of the ablution block ever being connected to sewerage.

“I am connected to the deep sewerage system, so his doubts are wrong,” Mr Raper told The Weekender.

“It was installed by Walpole Plumbing, an approved plumber in the area, so I fail to see that.”

He said he was semi-retired at one stage when he spent more time in Walpole, but was now back at work, presently in Port Hedland.

“The camping just gives me the time when I’m down there to be able to make the property fire ready, and tidy the block up and maintain the buildings,” he explained.

He said he would build a house on the block when he got the money.

“At this stage, I only go down a couple of times a year, and most of it’s to get the property ready to put a dwelling on it,” he said.

Under state legislation, a shire may allow landholders to camp on their blocks more than three nights a month, provided the land is not camped on more than three months a year.

And the shire must be satisfied the land is suitable for camping, with specific reference to safety, health and access to services.

A Manjimup shire policy says that using a caravan to camp on land for up to 12 months can be approved, but only while a building approval is current, which is not the case for Mr Raper.

The shire asked owners of neighbouring blocks about their views on his camping plans, and nobody objected.