Proposed changes to camping & accommodation fees in Victorian Parks. Please have your say!

Many of you may or may not be aware that there is currently a proposal by the Victorian Government/DEPI to increase camping and accommodation fees in all Victorian parks managed by Parks Victoria. This is not the annual camping fee increases which occurs around November each year and has just seen the fees rise. This is a totally different set of fee increases and changes to the camping and accommodation fee system.  See the following:

Victorian National Parks Camping and Accommodation Fees – Regulatory Impact Statement
The Department of Environment and Primary Industries (DEPI) has released a proposal for a user-pays approach to charges for camping and roofed accommodation in parks and reserves managed by Parks Victoria.
The new approach is designed to help fund ongoing maintenance and services to ensure that people can continue to enjoy these special places well into the future. Victorians are invited to provide comment on the regulatory impact statement by 22 November 2013.

The Victorian Climbing Club feels that these changes and increases are exorbitant, unmanageable and rather than encourage people to head out camping to the many parks on offer in Victoria, they make it difficult and for many, too expensive to do so. Another of the many downsides of this, is that for those that will continue to make regular trips, this will push more and more out into the park in search of bushcamps (although bushcamping is also set to be user pays) to avoid the fees. This will surely result in more environmental damage as there will be areas not set up to handle the traffic of many people and long term camping impacts. What their plans are for policing and managing the camp fee system is a mystery. Expecting the already resource (financial and people) poor Parks Victoria to police this is ridiculous and will mean that the important job of conserving the natural assets of the parks will be replaced by, what amounts to a parking officer.

The document is a lengthy one and with the variety of changes, many inconsistent, it can seem confusing to understand what this actually means for you in terms of camping fees.  I have attached the documents and relevant links but below are some salient points. The Victorian Climbing Club will be putting in a submission but this is no way counts for the many voices in the climbing community. What is imperative here is that you send in an individual submission. This is a proposal asking for comment. If you don’t like and agree with what is being planned you will need to say something – otherwise you will have to accept the changes they implement. Submissions by the public are often thin on the ground – people will complain on forums, around campfires but rarely does it make it into physical form to reach the people it needs to. Someone else won’t be doing it for you – the numbers will be less rather than more – so we need to turn this around. If you think this is important, not just for you, but for all those who love getting outdoors and camping now and into the future, you must say something. Submissions are required by Friday 22nd November. It doesn’t need to be a lengthy time consuming submission. A short well thought out one will count. I have also included an example letter of a VCC member here. This may give you an idea on how to write it. Try not to write it word for word. Too many of the same will end up only being counted as one. Besides explaining what you don’t like and maybe why, it can also be helpful for the future to explain what you do like. The current ‘special’ allowance that Mt Arapiles has and its special  individual user low fee should be pointed out as something that works and should continue.  I hope all of this helps and encourages you to put your thoughts forward. We are going to need it.

POINTS TO NOTE
•    Charges will be introduced for bush camping in the Grampians – payable either per person at 9.70 or per undesignated ‘site’ up to 6 people for $19.30
•    Camping at camp grounds in the Grampians will be charged at varying fees depending on the ‘level of facility and service’

o   Stapylton, Plantation, Smiths Mill and Jimmy Creek are classed as ‘high’ and therefore charges will be $48.70 per site of 6 people plus a vehicle. There is no per person rate for campsites rated ‘high’. Individuals or groups smaller than 6 will need to pay the $48.70.
o   Buandik, Troopers Creek, Wannon Crossing, Strachans, Borough Huts, Boreang are classed as ‘mid’ with charges being $37.80 per site of up to 6 people plus a vehicle or alternative a per person fee of $18.90.
o   First Wannon Remote campground is classed as ‘basic/very basic’ and therefore charges will be 19.30 per undesignated ‘site’ up to 6 people for $19.30 or per person at 9.70
o   Overnight walking in the Grampians will be subject to a special fee of $10 per person per night, $9 per school group member plus a booking fee of $15 for groups or $10 per person
•    All camping in the Black Range State Park will be charged using a ‘camping pass’ that can be purchased for overnight a week, a month or annually. Charges for the pass depend on the vehicle with a standard car rate being overnight  – $17.40, a week – $46.40, monthly at $81.10 or Annually at $121.70
•    Mount Arapiles has been classed as a special camping site with special fees – a simple per person rate of $5, with no separate vehicle charges or options to pay per site
•    Brisbane Ranges and Cathedral Ranges – All camping areas classed at ‘mid’ therefore charges being $37.80 per site of up to 6 people plus a vehicle or alternative a per person fee of $18.90.

Mount Buffalo
o   Lake Catani – classed as ‘High’ so charges will be $48.70 per site of 6 people plus a vehicle. There is no per person rate for campsites rated ‘high’ individuals or groups smaller than 6 will need to pay the $48.70.
o   Mount Mcleod and Rocky Creek Camping areas are subject to a special fee – $12.50 per person, $9 per school group member plus a booking fee plus a booking fee of $15 for groups or $10 per person

Some extra points to note:
•    Traditional owners are exempt from fees. How will this be managed – no description in place?
•    Payment of fees is proposed to be via Online booking system with booking and payment to be made prior to camping
•    For those people who just turn up without booking, you will still be required to book online upon arrival. This probably means that you are expected to use your smart phone and pay by credit card. This is obviously assuming that everyone has a smart phone, that there is phone coverage and that you have a credit card. And that the campground is not fully booked out!
•    For those campgrounds without designated sites, like Arapiles, a capacity would need to be defined. How many this will be, is another question that will need to be answered. And once online bookings reach capacity does this mean the system will not accept your booking?
•    Conversely when you make a booking and then turn up but struggle to find a space – how that will be managed?

*REMEMBER – YOUR SUBMISSION NEEDS TO BE IN BY FRIDAY 22ND NOVEMBER. THAT’S THIS FRIDAY!

Written submissions should be forwarded by 5:00pm Friday 22 November 2013 via either of the following:

Post
Camping and Accommodation Fees
Land Management Policy Division
Department of Environment and Primary Industries
Level 3, 8 Nicholson Street
EAST MELBOURNE VIC 3002

Online
Email: camping.RIS@depi.vic.gov.au

DEPI RIS Page link: http://www.depi.vic.gov.au/forestry-and-land-use/visiting-parks-and-forests/national-parks-camping-and-accommodation-fees

Fact sheet: http://www.depi.vic.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0006/205971/Victorian-National-Parks-Camping-and-Accommodation-Fees-Regulatory-Impact-Statement-October-2013-Fact-Sheet.pdf

RIS executive statement: http://www.depi.vic.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0004/205519/Victorian-National-Parks-Camping-and-Accommodation-Fees-Regulatory-Impact-Statement-October-2013-Executive-Summary.pdf

RIS statement: http://www.depi.vic.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0020/205517/Victorian-National-Parks-Camping-and-Accommodation-Fees-Regulatory-Impact-Statement-October-2013.pdf

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Mt Buffalo – Fire in Alpine Park. Be Aware and Be Prepared

Buffalo March 2008 072

For all those heading to Buffalo this Australia Day weekend (and that includes me) there is a large fire in the alpine region at the moment.  At this stage the Harrietville fire is currently moving South East, but this will change as conditions do.  Please keep it in mind.

The CFA/DSE website should have the latest information about this fire here: http://osom.dse.vic.gov.au/public/osom/websites_headline_mobile.html
Those with smart phones might wish to install the CFA’s FireReady app or Emergency Aus.
The following local FM radio stations should carry warnings:
89.7 – ABC Local
93.7 – Star Fm

If this fire starts heading towards Buffalo or another fire starts you may be asked to leave the park so please be prepared

Mt Buffalo landslide 2 March 2012

For any of you planning to head to Mt Buffalo this weekend, a little replanning might be in order.

mt buffalo landslide

 

 

 

 

 

 

A major landslip yesterday on the main road to Mount Buffalo NP has blocked access to the park. VicRoads are working to clear the road and assess the damage. All bookings are cancelled for the weekend.  See here