After months of shutdown due to COVID-19, Liverpool Plains Shire Council’s (LPSC) Freedom Camping area at Willow Tree has reopened and the picturesque village is ready to welcome travellers who are requested to abide by the COVID-safe requirements that have been put in place.
“Council has assessed the performance of its COVID-19 safety measures put in place at the Wallabadah Freedom Camping area which reopened recently. The system has worked far better than originally anticipated and as a result we are now ready to reopen Willow Tree. Maintaining COVID-safety is a priority both to keep travellers safe as well as to protect our local community,” said LPSC Mayor, Councillor Doug Hawkins.
Similar arrangements as instituted at Wallabadah will be in place and visitors are required to register by scanning the QR code which can be found at the amenities block. Instructions on the use of the QR code are provided. Council officers will attend the Freedom Camping Area in the morning and evening and anyone who has not registered with the QR code will be required to register with them. The receipt should be displayed on your vehicle’s dash,” he said.
Councillor Hawkins said that during the COVID-19 shutdown Council took the opportunity to upgrade facilities at the Willow Tree Freedom Camping precinct utilising $50,000 it successfully gained through the Federal Government’s Drought Communities Program and carried out by local contractor Hoswell Constructions.
“This included an upgrade to the septic tank and rubble drain, the replacement of the water heater to increase capacity for showers, new showerheads, replacing doors and painting walls, timber battens and the floor. A new gutter was installed on the northern side of the building and broken pipe vents were repaired. Additionally new LED light battens were installed as was an underground sub-circuit and safety switch. I am pleased that on reopening we can offer visitors enhanced amenities,” he said.
Debbie Shaw and her daughters Hannah and Kylie established Plains Pantry in Willow Tree in 2015. Debbie said, “the reopening of the Freedom Camping area will provide additional economic stimulus for the village’s businesses that have taken a united approach to promote Willow Tree as an important food strip catering for travellers on the New England Highway with a wide variety of options available.”
“COVID-19 has negatively impacted businesses in Willow Tree and we look forward to welcoming Christmas/New Year/holiday travellers to what we have to offer and increased visitation improving the situation,” Debbie said.
“Both travellers on the highway, and those who choose to stay at the Freedom Camping Area, will be made welcome in Willow Tree. The Shire’s Visitor Information Centre (VIC) is located in the main street so call in and find out what the Liverpool Plains Shire has to offer visitors from the Great Dividing Range to the agricultural wonderland of the rolling plains to our west. The VIC is also home to the impressive display, Kamilaroi, a Highway, a People, which pays tribute to the culture, customs and traditions of the First Nation People of this area, the Kamilaroi. It is a fascinating story featuring a welcome to country in English and Gomeroi and a series of interpretative panels, sculptures and features Aboriginal groove stones” Councillor Hawkins concluded.