Thinking about going camping over the Easter holidays?
More campsites on Crown land along the Goulburn River near Tallarook and Seymour are now open for public use.
The sites are part of a 2018 State Government election promise to increase access for camping on Crown Land.
Six sites along the Goulburn River opened for camping on Friday, with more to be added progressively in the coming weeks.
Up to 50 more will come online by the end of April, with newly available sites to be listed on the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning, DELWP, website once they are identified as suitable for camping.
The new sites can be accessed by foot from designated parking areas in townships of Seymour, Tallarook, Murchison and Molesworth.
The Seymour site can be access from the end of Anglesey Street, while Tallarook camping area one is accessed via a pedestrian gate off the Mansfield-Tallarook Rail trail, near the picnic area shelter.
To get to Tallarook camping area two, people need to travel south along Telegraph Road to an unlocked gate, the continue along the track to the car park where there is another gate where people can walk to the camping area.
Minister for Fishing and Boating Melissa Horne said future sites might be able to be accessed by vehicles, depending on location, including sites along the Goulburn, Broken, Ovens, Campaspe, Loddon, and Murray rivers.
“We promised to give Victorians and visitors to our state the opportunity to camp at some of Victoria’s most picturesque spots – and that’s exactly what we’ve done, with careful work to get the first sites ready for campers,” she said.
“We’ve set up a 24-hour hotline staffed by VFA Authorised Officers to report misconduct around river frontage camping, as well as continuing our work with Victoria Police to ensure everyone treats these sites with respect.”
Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change Lily D’Ambrosio said the public could already lawfully access licensed river frontages for recreation such as fishing, hiking, and picnicking.
Ms D’Ambrosio said regulations governing camping on Crown land sites were enforced by DELWP, the Victorian Fisheries Authority and Parks Victoria to ensure the protection of the environment, Aboriginal cultural heritage, farm businesses and recreational users. Licensees and adjoining landowners are also considered.
She said sites were coming online gradually as part of a staged approach, following a consultation process where more than 1100 submissions were received on draft regulations.
Ms D’Ambrosio said DELWP staff undertook public land value assessments to ensure the sites were safe and there was also traditional owner assessments of each site to ensure they were culturally appropriate for camping.
“Our public land is a wonderful asset for all Victorians to enjoy spending time in the great outdoors, with a wide range of recreational activities available,” she said.
VRFish Chair Rob Loats said a 24-hour hotline, 13FISH, was available for the public to report any illegal or antisocial behaviour.
“Public land should be available for public use – and what better use for riverside Crown Land than camping and fishing, enabling families and friends to create memories together,” he said.
However, Member for Euroa Steph Ryan said key questions about how the changes would impact landholders remained unanswered, including how many leaseholders were affected, whether affected individuals had been notified and whether there was an official process of appeal once sites were identified.
“There are serious ramifications for leaseholders, who have been told they need to have public liability insurance in case someone dies or is injured at a campsite,” she said.
Ms Ryan said she was also concerned about the enforcement of regulations and the tension that was going to inevitably arise between leaseholders and campers.