News

Camping changes coming

by
June 06, 2018

Options to be investigated in the plan will include delineating camping areas, providing a booking system and limiting camper numbers and length of stay.

The proposed introduction of fees and various restrictions on several local camping spots along the Murray River are likely to be in place later this year.

The new changes have been recommended as part of Parks Victoria’s ‘River Red Gum Parks Draft Management Plan’ which was released late last year.

Changes proposed in the draft plan included the recommendation of banning camping on some areas and /or imposing a fee structure to use areas closer to towns that have traditionally been free for camping.

The document aims to link reserves into an overall ‘Murray River Park’, delineate (exact position) sites, formalise campgrounds, and introduce bookable sites at numerous popular camping areas. 

The proposed ‘Murray River Park’ is expected to encompass 37,000ha, equivalent to approximately 100 parks and reserves from Wodonga to the west of Mildura.

The plan suggests Stanton’s Bend near Corowa may be upgraded to a campground but could attract fees.  

There is also a recommendation of a change to basic camping for Taylors Bend and Lumpys Bend. Free dispersed camping will remain in other areas.

The Lower Ovens, near Bundalong among others, are listed as potential sites for formalised campgrounds with some of Yarrawonga’s and Cobram’s most popular camping areas to be considered for campsite delineation.

Manager Park Planning, Parks Victoria Joshua Chikuse said the Draft River Red Gum Management Plan was released for public feedback in 2017 following an extensive consultation with the community in 2016 that helped shape and develop the content with the final plan now being prepared. “Proposals in the River Red Gum Management Plan were developed following consultation with Traditional Owners, campers, visitors, and nearby residents,” Mr Chikuse said.

“The draft plan proposed camping initiatives including bookable camp sites at three locations (Wills Bend, Farley Bend and Stanton Bend) along the Murray, however dispersed free self-select camping will remain the predominant form of camping along the Murray River on Parks Victoria managed land.

“The plan will ensure visitors and campers can continue to enjoy the parks in the River Red Gum landscape, while respecting the environment, culture and heritage, local communities, and other campers.” 

The draft plan also highlighted concerns over campers commandeering areas for extended periods, including setting up unoccupied camps for days or weeks before peak periods in order to exclude other campers, which leads to complaints about fairness of access.  

In some areas such as in the Cobrawonga area, itinerant workers such as fruit pickers or occasionally homeless people camp in the parks for extended periods. 

In some cases, this poses security and safety concerns for park visitors and staff as well as creating issues for nearby residents and communities.  

“We want people to keep enjoying camping in our River Red Gum landscape but our sole purpose is to ensure the safety of campers and the environment,” Mr Chikuse said. 

The draft plan also suggests delineating camping on the eastern end of Yarrawonga Common and for Parks Victoria to investigate delineating camping areas at Forges Beach 1.

Campfires are also an area coming under investigation as they are an important part of the camping experience but pose a number of risks.  

The Victorian Environmental Assessment Council (VEAC) recommended that campfires not be permitted on public land adjoining the Murray, Ovens and Goulburn Rivers during the fire danger period, as declared each year by the CFA.

This reflects the policy operating in New South Wales where solid-fuel fires are banned in many parks, including along the Murray River, during the peak of summer weather. 

Members of communities along the Murray River argued that campfires should be permitted during the declared fire danger period as campfires are part of the camping experience.

Visitor activities and experiences are described for a number of defined areas and termed visitor experience areas (VEA). 

Each VEA has defined goals and strategies that focus on managing the experiences defined for that area while protecting natural and cultural values from the impacts of use.

Some of the more local recommendations that have been suggested in the draft plan include;

Stantons

Permit basic camping at Taylors Bend and Lumpys Bend. 

Investigate formalising a campground at Stantons Bend, including upgrading facilities and investigating options for toilets during peak periods. 

Permit campfires. Where required to protect cultural values, prohibit campfires or provide fireplaces and restrict campfires to those fireplaces.

Corowa – Wahgunyah

Work with the local community to improve facilities at Granthams Bend with the view to developing a day visitor area immediately on the opposite bank to the caravan park and retaining the upstream section as a camping area.

Permit campfires. Where required to protect cultural values, prohibit campfires or provide fireplaces and restrict campfires to those fireplaces. 

Improve connection to adjacent opportunities, such as Murray to Mountains Rail Trail, Murray River Adventure Trail (including links to Wahgunyah–Corowa) and All Saints Winery.  

License rowing club use of club facilities. 

Clarify responsibility for managing Lake Moodemere and maintaining water levels for recreation. 

Investigate options for promoting the area’s cultural links to Aboriginal artist Tommy McRae. 

Work with local fishing clubs, tourism groups and government agencies to rationalise, improve and maintain boating access and infrastructure.

Yarrawonga 

Review the vehicle track network to determine which tracks are essential for visitor and management access. Maintain required tracks to allow two-wheel drive dry-weather access.

Permit camping throughout the VEA except at the eastern end of Yarrawonga Common, adjacent to the private caravan park and at boat ramp. Options to be investigated will include delineating camping areas, providing a booking system and limiting camper numbers and length of stay at Yarrawonga Common and Forges Beach 1. Provide camping sites accessible to RVs. 

Rationalise, improve and maintain walking tracks and interpretative signage. 

Lower Ovens 

Investigate the feasibility and options of establishing an overnight canoe trail with canoe -accessible basic camping areas and potential for links with adjacent Parolas VEA. This includes providing vehicle- based camping areas, sustainable access, signage, and visitor information and interpretation.

Parolas

Delineate camping areas on eastern side of Ovens River. Permit dispersed camping on the western side of Ovens River.  

Permit campfires. Where required to protect cultural values, prohibit campfires or provide fireplaces and restrict campfires to those fireplaces. 

Permit dogs within designated camping areas. 

Establish a ‘no hunting’ buffer adjacent to inlying freehold land.  

Investigate options for providing toilet facilities for campers and day visitors, including options for temporary toilets during peak periods.  

Investigate the feasibility of establishing an overnight canoe trail with canoe accessible areas 

Investigate options for the management of the Ovens River from the junction of the Murray River to the Murray Valley Highway to be returned to Victorian waterway management. 

Prohibit jet skis from all wetlands and waterways between the Ovens and Murray Rivers confluence, including Williams Creek and the Williams Bridge area.

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