GRAHAME Davies has manned the riverside campgrounds for a quarter of a century.
And he’s just as much of a character as the company he keeps.
“We had six weeks’ notice that we were going to do it when we took over,” he said.
“The trick is to keep smiling and have answers.
“I’ve been doing it since then.”
Mr Davies is the Tamworth Cricket Incorporated administrator, and the makeshift city that rocks up on his doorstep each year is one of the club’s biggest fundraisers.
More than 3500 campers are expected, with everything from tents and swags to $300,000 vans.
This year, Tamworth Regional Council officially opened the campgrounds a day early.
But true grey nomads arrive sometimes a fortnight in advance to secure their favourite shady spots.
The riverside campground raises anything $15,000 to $20,000 over the 10-day period, but it’s not without its sacrifices.
You meet a lot of characters; after doing it for 25 years I must enjoy it – but I don’t think my wife does.Grahame Davies
“I’m here from 6am to 6am,” Mr Davies said.
“I have slept down here, but I collect the money from the gates every six hours.
“You meet a lot of characters; after doing it for 25 years I must enjoy it – but I don’t think my wife does.”
There will be no Return and Earn machines on the campgrounds this year.
Last year, Tamworth made $1.5 million in revenue from returned bottles and cans.
And as the city heads into water restrictions on Monday, mayor Col Murray doesn’t believe the 300,000 expected visitors will have an effect.
“History suggests it has little impact,” he said.
“They aren’t big water users – 50 per cent of the water used in Tamworth is by commercial water users and half of what’s left is for outdoor residential use.
“It’s only about 25 per cent that’s impacted by people.”
Cricketers have much bigger crowds than usual, with the campers surrounding the pitches at the riverside sportsgrounds.
The council manages the grounds and has to keep on top of toilet and shower facilities, so decided to open the area a day early.
“We needed to pull the trigger on getting that formally started so we can manage the campers in a productive way,” Cr Murray said.