River Red Gum Parks Plan will see camping changes

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Murray River campsite
A campsite on the Murray River near Cobram. PIC: Parks Victoria

Time is running out for grey nomads or any other interested parties to comment on the wide-ranging River Red Gum Parks Draft Management Plan recently issued by Parks Victoria.

The 215,000-hectare area covered by the strategy includes national parks, state parks, a proposed Murray River Park, and conservation and other reserves along the Murray, Goulburn and Ovens rivers between Wodonga and the South Australian border.

As many travellers will know, a lot of the camping areas in the parks – particularly along the major rivers – have been established through unplanned, incremental use over many decades. The Draft Management Plan says the unregulated camping whereby people have been  able to choose their own campsites and slowly move into new areas has led to damage to the environment and cultural sites.

“To limit this expansion, this draft plan designates some ‘camping areas’ within which visitors can select a campsite,” the document says. “The overall camping experience will be unchanged, with campers choosing a site as they have in the past; the major difference is that the extent of the overall camping area will be restricted.”

Parks Victoria says it may also provide facilities in certain areas and will investigate establishing some formalised campgrounds with bookable campsites, but it says campfires will still be allowed unless impacting on cultural or natural values.

Sadly, the draft plan also notes that unregulated visitation along the river frontage has led to a number of other issues.

“Campers are encouraged to bring portable toilets, but this has led to problems with the disposal of toilet waste,” it says. “Visitors are required to ‘carry in, carry out’ their waste … however, litter and waste from campers and other visitors, as well as domestic rubbish dumping, is prevalent in parks and reserves, and also in nearby towns.”

It also says the generally open nature of River Red Gum forests has allowed visitors to develop ad hoc tracks, leading to track braiding, damage to vegetation, increased soil compaction and erosion, and impacts to cultural heritage values and sites.

“The community has expressed a preference to retain the parks’ undeveloped character,” the draft plan says. “However, management challenges arise from the need to protect ecological and cultural heritage values; manage increasing numbers of visitors; meet some community expectations for high-quality facilities; and maintain infrastructure and tracks.”

While the opportunity for to make a formal submission and comment on the plan doesn’t close until  the end of this month, some organisations have not waited to express their reservations.

Robert Loats, the chair of VRFish – the recreational fishing peak body representing more than 838000 Victorian fishers – said the draft plan contained several contradictory statements that permit practices such as dispersed camping and campfires, then followed with statements to restrict them.

‘‘We were assured that current dispersed camping opportunities and campfire regulations would not be changed,’’ Mr Loats said. ‘‘We believe the Victorian community has a right to enjoy camping beside a warm campfire, to cook a camp oven meal and enjoy the tranquil surrounds of the mighty Murray River while having a fish.’’

Others  have also expressed concern about the plans to restrict access to beach and camping areas near Cobram.

  • A full copy of the plan can be downloaded here.
  • Online submissions can be made here.- Have you camped in these areas? Do you see why more regulation might be needed? Or do you think things should be left well alone? Comment below

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2 Responses to River Red Gum Parks Plan will see camping changes

  1. I think this is an excellent idea. Cannot understand why visitors to the areas cannot take out their rubbish. I minority spoils it for the majority of campers who abide by “unspoken” rules of what you take in, you take back out. At so many places I’ve travelled to I see littering which is unsightly and dangerous to the wildlife -and of course attracts litter from other people who think it’s alright to do this.

  2. This is all a bit sad. We live near and camp by the Murray River and yet to see evidence that people do not abide by the “unwriiten rules”. I guess, given the length of the Murray, people become feral pigs if camped for more than a few days and become lazy about the disposal of their waste including their toilet. It will be bizarre if we have to book a camp site by the Murray River 5 minutes from our home!

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