Jenny and Ron Paterson, of Dunedin, enjoy some quiet time
at the Fraser Domain camp site in late December 2010. Photo
from the ODT files
Christmas holidays will not be the same again for Ron
Paterson. The 79-year-old Dunedin man will have to find a new
holiday spot, after camping regularly at the Fraser Domain for
about 60 years.
Mr Paterson is lamenting the loss of the camp site after the
Vincent Community Board voted this week to close it for
camping, from September 1.
The ''no frills'' facility is at Earnscleugh, off Strode Rd,
next to the Fraser River and at the height of summer, it is
home to about 100 orchard workers and 50 holidaymakers every
''I'm not impressed at all. It was a good place for families
to camp and for fruitpickers to stay and I'll be very sad to
see it close,'' Mr Paterson said.
His connection to the place began when he was a teenager. His
parents were the first generation of his family to discover
the domain and in the early days Mr Paterson's father used to
take the family to Earnscleugh by car and get all the camping
gear sent up on the train, delivered to the Clyde station.
Later on, Mr Paterson, his wife Jenny and their family spent
Christmas holidays at the site.
The death earlier this year of the camp site's honorary
caretaker, Gordon Pearce, forced the board to consider
options for the future management of the domain.
Mr Pearce and his wife Hazel had been the caretakers for
about 20 years, and relocated from their Tapanui home to a
caravan in the domain from December through to April.
In his report to the board, Central Otago District Council
parks team leader Ian Mann said the domain did not meet
national camp site service standards.
The camping facilities comprised an ablution block containing
six long-drop toilets and there was no potable water on site,
A basic upgrade of the facilities to meet camping standards,
would cost between $300,000 and $400,000 and the upgraded
facility would then ''compete'' with existing camping grounds
in Clyde and Alexandra.
Other options considered by the board included employing a
caretaker, establishing a self-contained freedom camp site,
handing the reserve back to the Department of Conservation,
establishing a management agreement for an orchard to manage
the site, or establishing a ''Friends of Fraser Domain''
group to oversee the reserve.
It decided the only feasible option was to close the site for
camping but retain it as a recreation reserve.
Mrs Pearce pleaded to the board for the retention of the camp
site, saying it would be ''sacrilege'' to close it.
The domain might have ''rough and ready'' facilities but that
was one of its attractions for campers, she said.
Mr Paterson said campers had no need of ''high-falutin' bits
and pieces of modern living'' and the camp site was adequate
for the needs of those who used it.
His son and grandson were the third and fourth generation of
his family to camp at the domain and the Patersons left their
caravan parked at the site.
''It's still relevant in every way as a camp site. If it's
closed to campers, the domain's more likely to be used by
people getting up to mischief, like some of the local
larrikins,'' he said.