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Lease awarded for popular tourist parks in Sale and Stratford
March 8, 2024

The successful tenderer for the lease of Sale and Stratford caravan parks have been announced following a comprehensive tender process.

As land manager for several caravan parks located on Crown Land, Wellington Shire Council oversees commercial leases on behalf of the Department of Energy, Environment and Climate Action (DEECA). Council engaged an independent caravan park management company to coordinate the public tender process.

The tender for the lease, development and management of both parks was advertised locally, through an agency and further afield over a six-week period. Tenderers were required to address a range of criteria including previous experience, capital investment, and consider how the business will promote sustainability, and work with the local community.

Both Sale Motor Village, located on the Princes Highway in Sale and Stratford on the River Tourist Park located at 2-16 McMillan Street in Stratford will be operated by new leaseholders and experienced park operators, Michael Harris and Paul Hangan from Camp Crusty.

Camp Crusty will commence operations in April and July 2024, subject to finalising all necessary approvals.

Both Michael and Paul are directors and shareholders of the Camp Crusty Group, employing approximately 100 people. Together, they own several tourist accommodation and hospitality businesses in Victoria's north-east including the Bright Cabin and Caravan Park and Camp Crusty Eldorado.

Their track record includes acquiring tourism assets and businesses, revitalising properties and significantly increasing visitation, such as at the Bright Accommodation Park, which saw a 50% increase in visitor nights within their first 12 months of operation.  

A key competitive edge lies in their family business' ability to create visitor experiences, including offering novel accommodation options such as eco-pods, glamping tents and more.

When asked about the future of both parks, new operator Michael Harris said the pair are very excited to be the new leaseholders of the parks and wanted to leverage the goodwill and hard work put in by the previous park operators.

“We look forward to getting busy, setting the parks up for the next generation of visitors to this beautiful region. Our families would like to thank Wellington Shire Council for entrusting us with this important responsibility, and we look forward to immersing ourselves into the community”.

Furthermore, when asked about the origin of their business name, they explained,

“The very first park we purchased in Bright was in desperate need of improvements, and as such had earned an unflattering nickname from the locals. We thought the nickname was memorable and quirky, so we just embraced it and Camp Crusty was born”.

Shortly after finalising the lease, the new operators will commence refurbishing and renovating the facilities. This will include upgrading the camp kitchen and the old Visitor Information Centre at Sale Motor Village. Additionally, new accommodation options, such as cabins and glamping setups will be added to increase capacity and accessibility to improve the visitor experience.

Wellington Shire Council Mayor Ian Bye expressed excitement about the appointment, highlighting its potential to modernise and increase visitation to The Middle of Everywhere.

“We see both caravan parks as drivers for expanding tourism in the region and are excited to see how the Camp Crusty team will enhance these parks over the coming years,” he said.

The Mayor also thanked outgoing tenants, Floyde and Leanne Murphy at Sale Motor Village, and Shaun and Louise Perrett at Stratford on the River Tourist Park.

“The long-term tenants at both parks have provided significant contribution to their respective communities, and tourism within the region over a long period of time. We would like to thank them for their hard work and wish them all the best for what comes next,” Cr Bye said.

– Ends –

Quotes attributed to outgoing tenants

Sale Motor Village Operators, Floyde and Leanne Murphy

“We would like to thank the Sale community, businesses and trades people for their continued support over the past 17 years. We would also like to send a big thank you to the loyal customers who continued to use Sale Motor Village as their preferred place to stay when visiting the town.

“We would like to say a sad goodbye to our park residents, some who have lived in the park almost as long as we have.

“We wish the new owners every success in their new venture at Sale Motor Village. We are looking forward to a well-earned retirement.”

Stratford on the River Tourist Park operators, Shaun and Louise Perrett

“We are sad to leave friends and regular guests behind but excited for the next phase of our lives.

“Thank you for all the support from the local community over the last 19 years and best wishes to the incoming operator.”

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