Camping surge as Victoria halves national park fees

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camping boost in Victoria's national parks
More visitors are enjoying Victorian National Parks. PIC: Tourism Victoria

The Victorian Government’s bold plan to boost camping numbers in the state’s national parks by slashing fees appears to be paying off in a big way.

In 2015, camping fees were abolished at 500 basic sites over 70 campgrounds in 19 parks across regional Victoria. And, at last year’s state election, the Government announced it would go further – halving all remaining fees in state and national parks.

That fee reduction kicked in on July 1 and the impact has been immediate. There has apparently been a 63% increase in bookings at Parks Victoria compared to the same school holiday period last year.

Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change Lily D’Ambrosio said the surge in numbers is a boon for regional businesses, with campers heading into towns across country Victoria to stock up before their trip into the state’s beautiful wilderness.

“Half-price camping is driving a camping boom across Victoria, with a big increase in bookings,” she said. “Camping is not only a great way to relax and unwind, it’s also big business for regional Victoria – keeping local shops and cafes full and supporting jobs.”

Camping and recreation in Victoria’s national parks contributes $2.1 billion to the state’s tourism industry each year and supports 20,000 jobs. The campsite price cut was part of a $107.2 million camping package funded in the Victorian Budget 2019/20, which will also build more than 30 new camp grounds and upgrade 30 more across the state.

Sites in line for an upgrade include the Greater Bendigo National Park, the Fraser campground at Lake Eildon, Glenelg River and the nearby Princess Margaret Rose Cave.

While the initiative is to some extent aimed at encouraging Victorian families to get out and enjoy the state’s wilderness areas during school holidays, grey nomads who tend to camp for much longer periods of time could be among the big winners.

“I love getting out into national parks in all states but the cost to camp in many of them is crazy, especially when you look at the limited facilities often on offer,” said Dominic James, who has spent two years travelling full-time. “This sort of initiative will obviously make a huge difference to me and I will certainly spend more time in parks … I just hope it’s the start of a trend, not the end.”

And Parks Victoria, which appears to be looking at the bigger picture, says it couldn’t be happier to hear those sorts of testimonials.

  • Do you avoid national park camping due to the costs. Which state do you think has the best – and most affordable – national park camping? Comment below.
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10 Responses to Camping surge as Victoria halves national park fees

  1. My wife and I only occasionally stop in National parks the main reason being the lack of services provided. The answer is not lower fees. We would pay more if decent services are provided.
    The National park service needs to spend more on infastructure and rangers on the ground and less on back office ineffective public service bureaucrats.

    • If you want more services go to a caravan parks. We like bush camping, real camping at low cost or free.

      • Well said Pat. Basic camping is perfect and if people want more facilities then please go to a caravan park. I must agree that fewer unproductive public servants is a necessity, not only for Victoria but the whole of our country.

    • Less bureaucracy and more front line people and facilities would lead to a better outcome for all. Would be interesting to know as the National Parks budgets are under pressure, how many administrators do they cut?.

  2. A few years ago, they increased prices in National Parks! So now they have slashed them. Back to what?

  3. We dont want more services, we are self contained and self sufficient, we enjoy camping and off-road camper trailering, and we dont mind a small fee provided rangers keep an eye on activities, and if there are bins, then they are emptied, and if there are ever any toilets, they are maintained so that folk dont soil the countryside…more rangers on the ground, yes please,and happy to pay a small fee to help fund that service….I dont expect totally free camping, because I do appreciate the functions of a well staffed ranger compliment who can get out about and help maintain our national parks, etc.

  4. Funnily enough I remember about 25 years ago National Parks used to beautifully maintain their tracks, amenities and even have some wood chopped for bbqs. Horror of horrors, they even used to supervise back burning to prevent bushfires. This was totally funded by the government so that everyone could enjoy their time at the parks. Then all that changed and we all had to pay a fee to visit our national parks, toilets are rarely emptied and some tracks at lesser known NPs are makeshift at best. It’s a shame about the ‘restructuring’ and how many people do not remember the great service the everyday ranger provided.

  5. The Rangers and amenities are seriously lacking funds now!.
    More people but less funding won’t help the condition of the parks .
    Proper government funding and education on how to camp responsivly would help . Think about the follow on effects !!!

  6. They want the same fees or better than some caravan parks,a lot less services and amenities.We already pay for the parks in our taxes but the gov wants to rip us off.Some of us are not that stupid,a lot once bitten, you had us there but you chased us away.No different then over priced caravan parks, wont be back. Stevo.

  7. We are from the ACT and would love to free camp (our preference) in NSW as it surrounds us but most is National Park and many site cost the same as a caravan park PLUS the $8 per day park fee. What a joke. So…. we go to Vic and SA where we can camp for a week for the same amount as 2 nights in NSW.

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