The Camden Haven area is home to stunning mountain vistas, rolling green plateaus, pristine rivers and an amazing beaches. It’s also home to Garry Carpenter, President of the Camden Haven Chamber of Commerce. Garry is a passionate advocate for the area and sees it as a thriving hub for tourism, industry, sport and recreation …
What originally brought you to the Camden Haven area ?
My partner, Karen, and I moved to The Camden Haven in January 2009. We both really liked the relaxed beauty of the area, which we had come to enjoy after visiting my parents (who had moved to the area eight years before). It always felt like you were going on a holiday and even after working in the area for the last three and a half years, I still feel like I’m on holidays – free from the treadmill of expectations from living in Sydney.
What is your position with the Camden Haven Chamber of Commerce, and what is involved with this role on a day-to-day basis?
As President of The Camden Haven Chamber of Commerce, I see my role as one of helping to develop the Camden Haven profile. I try to keep our members fully informed of the issues that directly and indirectly affect their businesses. A large part of my time is spent attending after-work meetings and sending out emails to our members.
At Chamber, we are evolving our tourist strategy with our own tourism marketing co-op. The recent Council decision to reconsider the opening of The Kew Visitor Information Centre (VIC) goes hand in hand with our tourism strategy and at the moment is a major focus for Chamber. We are also starting to introduce business tools, such as mentor presentations and networking seminars, that our members can utilise to drive their business performance. One of my aims is to provide as many opportunities as possible to support the welfare of our local businesses.
Why did you originally decide to join the Chamber?
Originally we joined the Chamber to get an idea of how the community operated and an understanding of local issues. As we were new to the area and didn’t know many people, we thought it would be the best place to learn about the area and meet like-minded people.
What is it about the Camden Haven area that you particularly enjoy – and why?
I enjoy the overall relaxed lifestyle that the Camden Haven has to offer. The waterways and beaches remind me of growing up on the northern beaches of Sydney, when life wasn’t so hectic. You only have to drive out to Kew and Kendall to get a feeling of being in the country.
One of the things I really value is the fact that the area is big enough to have all the facilities to ensure a great quality of life, but small enough to have that wonderful sense of being in a community where you know lots of friends wherever you go and people take the time to say hello to each other.
You also run a local business in the area. Tell us a bit about what you do?
We have a bed and breakfast called The Bush and Beach B&B. We have 4 acres of parkland at North Haven, where we enjoy meeting guests and seeing them totally relax in a peaceful environment. Karen and I both like entertaining people, so it’s nice to be able to share our surroundings with visitors to the area.
What are some of your favourite locales/activities in the area?
Luckily for us, we are only 200 metres from the Camden Haven boardwalk, and one of our favourite walks is literally by our doorstep. We also like to get to the beaches, which are only a couple of minutes away, as often as possible all year round.
The flower bowl circuit at Pilot Head and North Brother Mountain are other places we like to go.
When we talk about the ‘Camden Haven’, just how big an area is this?
The Camden Haven is generally accepted as towns encompassed by the Camden Haven River system. These include the coastal towns of Bonny Hills, North Haven, Laurieton and Dunbogan. To the west of North Brother mountain, we head out through West Haven and Lakewood to Kew, Herons Creek and the hinterland areas of Kendall, Lorne, then through to the Comboyne plateau. Heading southwards, we go through Rossglen down to Johns River, Stewarts River and Hannam Vale. In all, it totals a huge area and makes a great day trip in the car.
How diverse is the area in terms of business and retail outlets?
The Camden Haven is a conglomeration of businesses largely influenced by tourism activities. From boutique restaurants to local accommodation providers and retail outlets, tourism plays a huge part in the local economy.
We have a small light industrial hub in Laurieton, plus an abundance of shops in Bold St that play a big part in servicing the needs of locals, as well as that of our seasonal holidaymakers.
With the anticipated reopening of the Kew Visitors Information Centre, we see the rekindling of a business hub at Kew and nearby Kendall, with the likes of tourist drawcards such as Will Hagon’s Kew Pit Stop creating renewed interest in the area.
Non-locals may have a perception of the Camden Haven as a tourist/holiday or retirement hotspot. How true do you believe these impressions are?
It’s true that we have for a long time have catered for an older demographic in the Camden Haven. We now also have thriving schools in the area and lots of sports related activities for younger people.
As the Camden Haven evolves, we see more and more opportunities for younger families to enjoy the lifestyle and take a bigger part in community activities. With regards to the Camden Haven being a tourist hotspot, we are proud of the fantastic holiday destination that we have become and with an emerging tourism profile, we warmly welcome all visitors to our beautiful region. Our events such as Slice of Haven and The Riverwalk markets are quite remarkable.
How can people find out more about the Camden Haven area and the local Chamber of Commerce?
The best way to find out about The Camden Haven is to come and visit us but before you do, check out our new tourism website at www.visitcamdenhaven.com.au or for business and local events, you can go to www.camdenhaveninfo.org.au – We really have a fantastic part of the world and look forward to sharing it with locals and travellers alike.
Interview by Jo Atkins.