Row over Victorian riverfront camping access heats up again

Published: August 5, 2022

The simmering row over the Victorian Government’s decision to open up more Crown land river frontage to camping is threatening to come to the boil again.

In a bid to honour its 2018 election commitment, the Labor administration has been slowly but surely been identifying spots it considers appropriate to allow camping on.

It has just published details of the first four camps in Gippsland — two are on the Wonnangatta River, and two are on the Dargo and Macalister Rivers — and critics have immediately labelled them as ‘totally inappropriate’.

Paradise Valley camp and caravan park operator Neil Williams told the ABC it has all come a surprise to him.

Riverside camping in Victoria

“It doesn’t really seem fair that we have to go through all the compliance rigours that we do, and the state government feels like it can open up a parcel of land for anyone at any time, I’d just like everyone to be on a level playing field, ” Mr Williams said. “There are caravan parks all over Victoria that have had to comply with Country Fire Authority regulations … there’s a whole host of other council health and safety compliance issues that we deal with on a regular basis and it all adds to our overheads.”

Ans the Victorian Farmers Federation (VFF) has its own objections. The organisation has just written to the Government calling for an immediate suspension of the rules that allow camping on riverside farmland due to the biosecurity risks posed by both Lumpy Skin Disease (LSD) and Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD).

VFF President Emma Germano said nothing should be left to chance when a disease incursion could leave thousands of people without jobs and devastate the regions.

“Uncontrolled public access to farmland presents the most serious risk to farm biosecurity and we believe it’s a no brainer to suspend the rules that allow camping on riverside farmland,” she said.

Ms Germano added the strict biosecurity measures in place at farms designed to keep out disease could be rendered useless if public access to farmland remained open

“Farmers must have the ability to control and trace the movement of people on and off the property

on which they have livestock. We can’t do that if we don’t know who’s on our farms.”

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