Camping changes coming
Tighter restrictions on camping areas along the Murray River will soon apply following the final release of Parks Victoria’s River Red Gum Parks Management Plan.
Some popular campsites along the Murray River will have a booking system introduced and others will have more controlled restrictions imposed.
Locally camping will not be permitted on the eastern end of the Yarrawonga Common, adjacent to the private caravan park and at the boat ramp.
Options also to be investigated on other popular camping sites will include delineating some camping areas, providing a booking system and limiting camper numbers and length of stay with the focus initially on the Yarrawonga Common and Forges Beach 1.
The plan also aims to delineate camping areas on the eastern side of the Ovens River at Parolas. It will still permit dispersed camping on the western side of the Ovens River.
Jet skis will be banned from all wetlands and waterways between the Ovens and Mur- ray Rivers confluence, including Williams Creek and the Williams Bridge area.
Stanton’s Bend near Corowa will be one of three campsites along the Murray River to be changed to a bookable campsite.
Parks Victoria will also look at making some camping sites more accessible to RVs.
The plan has 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.
The fifteen- year plan sets out a long-term vision for the future management and protection of over 100 parks and reserves.
Daniel McLaughlin, Acting Regional Director Parks Victoria said the document confirms some of the processes already in place and assists in managing the parks for the next 15 years.
“The River Red Gum Management plan is a broad landscape based document that sets the goals and strategies for directing the management of the parks and reserves for at least 15 years,” Mr McLaughlin said. “The plan confirms many of the activities and management practices that are already in place across the red gum parks.
“Camping has not been banned within River Red Gum Parks, dispersed or ‘bush camping’ will continue to be the predominant form of camping.” Stretching over 215,000 hectares, the plan will collectively manage parks along the Murray, Ovens and Goulburn Rivers.
The planning area includes Australia’s iconic River Red Gum forests, several internationally significant wetlands including a diverse range of flora, fauna and threatened species.
Simon Talbot, Chief Operating Officer Parks Victoria said community feedback and engagement were important in the implementation of the final plan.
“Parks Victoria has undertaken extensive community engagement to inform future management of Australia’s iconic River Red Gum forests across the state,” Mr Talbot said.
“Community and stakeholder engagement, including submissions from community members and groups was considered in developing the final plan.
“Community feedback, during the plan’s consultation period highlighted demand for more equitable access to popular campsites during busy periods,” Mr McLaughlin added.
“In response to this, the plan recommends additional facilities such as toilets and a booking system for three very popular sites. The identified sites are: Wills Bend, Farley Bend and Stanton Bend. There are also highly significant Aboriginal sites, post-settlement heritage sites and geological sites within the planning area.
“The plan recognises Traditional Owners within the landscape, the enduring cultural connection and rich heritage they embody.
“The unique natural environment of these parks and reserves will be conserved, managed adaptively and progressively enhanced to sustain the natural systems and species,” Mr Talbot said.
The final River Red Gum Management Plan ensures popular activities like dispersed camping, fishing, boating and hunting continue to be supported.
The plan also supports the development of new recreational initiatives that support regional economies such as; bookable camp- sites, the Murray River Adventure Trail and the Lower Ovens canoe trail.
The plan additionally identifies priorities to improve ecosystem health and habitat connectivity, supports environmental watering to improve natural processes, reduce grazing pressure and predation, reduce aquatic pests and reduce weed invasion and impacts.
“As with all new initiatives, before this is implemented, the normal process will be conducted, which includes, but is not limited to, developing the concept, community consultation and final implementation,” Mr McLoughlin said.
“These initiatives, along with all new initiatives identified within the plan will be investigated and rolled out during the 15 year period the plan will be in place for.”
The plan can be viewed at www.parks.vic. gov.au/redgumplan.
Options to be investigated in the plan will include delineating camping areas, providing a booking system and limiting camper numbers and length of stay at Yarrawonga Common and Forges Beach 1.