Victoria ‘backs down’ on riverfront camping pledge

Published: July 19, 2021
riverfront camping

It appears the Victorian Government has backed down in its bid to allow thousands of campers to pitch tents along 17,000 kilometres of the state’s waterways from September.

Two industry stakeholder groups have told The Weekly Times the Government has instead opted to open up about ‘25 pilot sites’ for campers on crown land water frontages from September.

It is understood those sites would first have to undergo biodiversity and cultural heritage assessments to meet the demands of environmental groups and traditional owners, who are concerned biodiversity and sacred sites, such as scar and birthing trees, are not damaged by campers.

The Herald Sun reports that the Government will then assess how the sites are managed and their impacts on waterways, vegetation and neighbouring landholders before making any decisions on extending the number of sites in the future.

Last November the Government passed amendments to the Land Act 1958, which cleared the way for it to draft regulations allowing any member of the public to set up tents and campfires from this September on up to 8,287 crown-land frontages, that are licensed to adjoining farmers and other landholders.

Many farmers were worried this would mean they had to police campers on mostly unfenced crown land river frontages adjoining their properties. They also feared they would be put at risk of legal suits as livestock wandered among tents, and that they would be left to deal with escaped campfires, rubbish and human waste contaminating their land and waterways.

However, the Herald Sun reports that it appears that it was ultimately traditional owners and environment groups who persuaded key Labor ministers to back down on a policy they say would irrevocably damage waterways.

These groups have called for a more strategic approach of working together to identify appropriate camping sites that are fenced off from adjoining landholders, had good vehicle access and contained no valuable native vegetation or culturally significant sites.

The Government is refusing to detail what action it is taking, with a spokeswoman telling the Herald Sun:

“We are delivering on an election commitment we made to Victorians in 2018 that has been welcomed by over 800,000 fishers and campers. The draft regulations – including how they’re going to be enforced – are still being finalised and we will have more to say soon.”

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18 Comments
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Bob
6 months ago

First we need to stop closing land already owned by the State governments. Start putting facilities into what is already public land before harassing farmers who want to farm what is effectively their land.

Jim
5 months ago
Reply to  Bob

Leasehold land does not belong to the lessee (farmer). What you are saying is that if you have a house and rent (lease) it to a tenant then the tenant owns the house.

Brian Dirou
5 months ago
Reply to  Jim

I think you will find like all leases, the tenant is entitled to what is termed ‘quiet enjoyment’. Think of it that way and it makes more sense. The hard thing is identifying what is leased and what isn’t.

Debra Croxon
5 months ago
Reply to  Jim

The tennant is responsible for for it though.

Burgo1
6 months ago

The big question, Who owns the land ?

Bill
5 months ago
Reply to  Burgo1

Err That would be us the citizens But NOT any more Like our rapidly eroding freedoms. Time to sell the gear. Who wants to be seen as a ratbag terrorist for wanting to travel or camp?

Peter C
5 months ago
Reply to  Burgo1

In QLD government owns the riverbank, so probably a similiar situation in Victoria

Ken
5 months ago

I agree with this …..
Many farmers were worried this would mean they had to police campers on mostly unfenced crown land river frontages adjoining their properties. They also feared they would be put at risk of legal suits as livestock wandered among tents, and that they would be left to deal with escaped campfires, rubbish and human waste contaminating their land and waterways.

Vulcan
5 months ago

I’m with the farmers on this one too. Glad their land is going to be protected and they aren’t turned into quasi policing mechanisms. But, this is a classic “Yes Minister” solution. By throwing biodiversity and cultural heritage into the mix, this will go nowhere, take an inordinate amount of time and the state government will be absolved of making any controversial decisions. Perfect solution!

Vita
5 months ago

The gov came up with the idea of free for all camping on crown river frontage ….before covid hit…before the 2019 /20 black summer,
Now we all have to sign in to go into shops,cafes etc…
so of course having any stranger, not registered, rock up
and camp where they like…& lighting fires is NOT O.K
it’s obvious
it was a bad idea to start with
now it is a ludicrous idea

Bill
5 months ago

“YOU WILL HAVE NOTHING AND YOU WILL BE HAPPY” or else

Phil Coates
5 months ago

Surely, caravan owners who are fully self contained would leave no trace even if they use wood fires in approved containers. Why not specify who can camp there. You don’t see many “grey nomads “ leaving a mess !

Tom Stevens
5 months ago
Reply to  Phil Coates

Not sure ignorant and careless people improve with age.

Ian Crombie
5 months ago

It was payoff to the Fishers and Shooters Party to ensure their support for government proposals. Emergency powers, etc

Piktas Erelis
5 months ago
Reply to  Ian Crombie

Well stated and the most likely conclusion that this absurdly irresponsible decision was cheap pandering to garner support for further nefarious political advantage by a grossly discredited Victorian Labour Administration.
Why it would be considered politically advantageous to impose further hardships on our struggling farming communities eludes belief!

Muzza
5 months ago

Tis situation has come about in the North West of Western Australia.
However the difference here is that the Pastoralists simply shut the gate. No one got in after that without permission. I am fortunate in having the trust of one of these Cockies and as such still get into one of Australia’s best fishing/camping spots on the coast.
I must agree with the Pastoralist as the area in contention was getting to be a disgrace with rubbish, new 4×4 tracks through sand hills and gates left open etc.

Len Sorrell
5 months ago

The statement “those sites would first have to undergo biodiversity and cultural heritage assessments to meet the demands of environmental groups and traditional owners, who are concerned biodiversity and sacred sites, such as scar and birthing trees” will see the project killed off!

Lesley
5 months ago

I’m also with the farmers on this, the Government would do well to listen to them rather then anyone else on this subject. What they need to do though, is listen to the people of Australia, not only the Indigenous, when it comes to camping in our State Parks. After all, this is “our” country!

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