ACT News

Cheaper fuel leaves visitors with change to spend in Canberra

Caravan park operators in Canberra say cheaper fuel prices have not changed booking numbers in the national capital, but campers are happier with the loose change left over at the bowser.

Outside of Canberra petrol prices are at record low levels and could fall further due to Saudi Arabia's decision not to cut oil production. Industry commentators say ACT's petrol prices are higher because of a lack of independent service station owners. 

Russell Spencer of Windsor is travelling with his daughter Kerry Spencer and her boyfriend Danny Farnback to visit people in Canberra, where they plan to stay a little longer to see the sights.

"This is the cheapest I have seen petrol prices in a long time," Mr Spencer said. The trio is travelling with two six-cylinder vehicles.

Mr Spencer said he was accustomed to spending $120 filling the car and had never filled to the brim his Pajero V6, fearful of what the cost might be. He stops when the bowser reaches $100, which he says pays for about three hours travel.

Mr Farnback said at North Richmond he had seen the price of petrol fall to $1.05 a litre.

"It's cheaper to come here than go into the city [in Sydney] for the fireworks," Mr Farnback said. "Everything is getting too expensive."

They had camped at Exhibition Park until the start of Summernats and are extending their stay at Eagle Hawke Holiday Park, on the Federal Highway, until January 8.

Richard Schutt and his family spent 13 hours hauling their caravan to Canberra from Mount Gambier in South Australia for Summernats. He generally fills up with premium-priced fuel and appreciates lower prices along the way.

"If you want to go somewhere, you have to ignore the price of fuel, otherwise you wouldn't do anything," Mr Schutt said.

This is his second trip to Canberra for the car festival, and he plans staying for five days. "We will drive around and look for what Canberra has to offer," Mr Schutt said.

Eagle Hawke Holiday Park manager Bill Tilden said the high cost of entry fees to attractions on the Gold Coast caused Queenslanders to come south for cheaper admittance to Canberra's national institutions.

But fuel prices hadn't caused a spike in numbers of people staying at the park. Events like Summernats and Floriade in spring helped fill the park's 90 villas, and up to 550 children a night stayed while attending various events during the school year.

Capital Country Holiday Park manager Bree Curnuck said visitors were quick to discover cheaper fuel prices had not found their way into Canberra.

"They all say, 'luckily we filled up before we came, because Canberra is so expensive,' " Ms Curnuck said.

She did not believe cheaper petrol prices interstate was driving additional business to the national capital.

Ms Curnuck said school tours filled the park's 585 person capacity from February to December. Bookings peaked during winter because schools liked to include a trip to the snow on their itinerary, as did many travellers between Sydney and Melbourne.

Ms Curnuck said Canberra Hot Rod Association had booked out the park in three weeks time for its annual event, helping fill the school holiday void. Another major drawcard was the Anzac Day dawn service, which brought campers to the park from all over Australia.

South Canberra Caravan Park's assistant manager Anne Garvin said lower fuel prices had probably bolstered visitor numbers.

"We are full, absolutely. We have had a lot of tourists in, in campervans and tents and everything," she said.

"We are up on last year. Everytime we have a change of government everything in Canberra dies, 2014 [bookings] was up on 2013."