PUBLIC LAND FREE CAMPING IN VIC UNDER THREAT

Submitted: Tuesday, Jan 14, 2014 at 11:03
ThreadID: 105816 Views:3447 Replies:11 FollowUps:28
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This is not what I had in mind for my first post on this fantastic forum, which I have watched for several years. But this issue is so important it has to take priority over softer sentiments. THIS IS VERY IMPORTANT. PLEASE READ AND ACT if you agree.
If you care at all about your own fundamental freedoms, our cultural hertiage and those of our children and grandchildren do something now before it’s all too late. Start by looking at Bill Garners Age article (link below) and click like, share, the lot. Help get this sleazy underhanded policy scraped and shoved down a long drop where it belongs. If you are up for it write or email your local state member and ask what the hell is going on and what their stance will be come next election, which is not far away. Clamping down on camping, but why?
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Reply By: broometime - Tuesday, Jan 14, 2014 at 12:41

Tuesday, Jan 14, 2014 at 12:41
we are from W.A and travel a lot interstate, every so often we like to free camp.if VIC does clampdown on free camping its
a big country we don't have to revisit VIC and I know a lot of other that would think the same.
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Follow Up By: TTTSA - Tuesday, Jan 14, 2014 at 14:35

Tuesday, Jan 14, 2014 at 14:35
Surely you don't think this will only happen in Victoria? Once they start i'm sure the ball will be rolling in the other states as well.

Peter
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Follow Up By: Motherhen - Wednesday, Jan 15, 2014 at 09:22

Wednesday, Jan 15, 2014 at 09:22
The article Freecamper has linked is talking about camping in National Parks. Victoria still has a lot on free and low cost camping opportunities.

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Reply By: Aussi Traveller - Tuesday, Jan 14, 2014 at 13:02

Tuesday, Jan 14, 2014 at 13:02
I just spent a few weeks camping in the Vic high country with a mate, it was spectacular if not a little cold at times lol ,the facilities we used were well looked after and very clean, I have no problem with paying to camp any where in this country so long as it is a reasonable price and well looked after.

Some of the places we went to had been used and abused, this meant someone had to go and clean it up, so if paying a price keeps it clean or gets it cleaned up then I am happy to pay.

Phil
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Follow Up By: Freecamper - Tuesday, Jan 14, 2014 at 14:20

Tuesday, Jan 14, 2014 at 14:20
I see your point Phil, it’s not about the money at all, I have no problem paying for facilities either, if I want them. The problem I have with this is the potential policy of closing off current free camping areas to force people to camp in private camp grounds or public overcrowded, underserviced camping grounds, or worse still having to go into a ballot each year to see if you are lucky enough to win a spot for the annual holiday in the “bush”. The fact is that many thousands of volunteer hours, vehicles and associated costs are donated each and every year by 4WD clubs, Landcare and many “friends of” groups and others in doing fantastic work on public land including cleaning up the mess of a few who despoil our environment. The mess makers and vandalism will not change anytime soon but why the heck should I be made to pay for it? Or even worse be made to pay for the privilege of volunteering my time and vehicle the next time our club does work in the NP because we decided to camp overnight at our work sites. At present we have a choice about staying in camping grounds with facilities and paying for that, or going it alone and free camping with little or no facilities. What really worries me is that freedom of choice may be removed into the future, for no good reason at all other than to “control us”. I’ll tell you one thing if my dad and grandads (all returned servicemen) and bushmen were alive to see this, it would not be pretty, not at all. I can just still hear them now “So why did we fight? Wasn’t it for our freedom”?
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Reply By: Bazooka - Tuesday, Jan 14, 2014 at 13:47

Tuesday, Jan 14, 2014 at 13:47
Bill Garner makes some excellent points in that article, particularly in regard to the cultural heritage of free camping. It's not as simple as "I don't mind paying a fee for basic services" as he correctly points out, although the pressures which result from dirty and lazy campers is an ever increasing problem in many places.

The competitive neutrality issue is a complete furphy in this case (it's broadly an excuse to permit private gouging in some cases and has been poorly applied by governments) and as he says the compliance costs will almost certainly outweigh the fees collected. I've read the consultant report and like many consultant reports it makes assumptions about policies in regard to intended use of public land. No doubt it has produced what the Liberal government asked for.
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Follow Up By: Member - Scott M (NSW) - Tuesday, Jan 14, 2014 at 16:13

Tuesday, Jan 14, 2014 at 16:13
"although the pressures which result from dirty and lazy campers is an ever increasing problem in many places. " - which was the point some of us were making on some threads before XMAS about education for camper & 4wd hire being compulsory and were howled down by the "Nanny State" barking dogs.

If we don't look after our own patch as responsible 4wd users, we'll lose it
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Reply By: baz&pud (tassie) - Tuesday, Jan 14, 2014 at 13:53

Tuesday, Jan 14, 2014 at 13:53
We prefer free camping, (and i mean free) but are quite prepared to pay to stay in National Parks etc, but the problem is that the amount they charge at times, and with NO facilities in some, is greater than staying in a caravan park.
Cheers.
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Follow Up By: K&FT - Tuesday, Jan 14, 2014 at 14:39

Tuesday, Jan 14, 2014 at 14:39
And THAT is very likely what they are aiming to make you do.
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Follow Up By: Member - Phil G (SA) - Tuesday, Jan 14, 2014 at 20:42

Tuesday, Jan 14, 2014 at 20:42
Yep, the cost doesn't matter to us, but
Last month we camped at Bool Lagoon Conservation park - cost $28 for the night, the following night in Penola caravan park was $25.
Little wonder nobody else was camped at Bool Lagoon ....pity really....national parks are there to be seen and enjoyed....
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Reply By: Member - Kevin S (QLD) - Tuesday, Jan 14, 2014 at 18:07

Tuesday, Jan 14, 2014 at 18:07
I hesitated about contributing, but here goes .......

I would make three points.

1. Dr Garners (I wonder what he is a doctor of?) has written a book on camping. That means he potentially has an axe to grind. It is not unknown for writers to contribute newspaper articles to promote their book.

2. It is inherently dangerous to take at face value an article in a Fairfax newspaper that is critical of a conservative government. That is very much what Fairfax papers are about at the moment.

3. There are commercial operators that offer camp sites at around $13. They are properties that are similar to National Parks with no or few facilities. When you camp anywhere the most important thing is a bit of dirt to camp on. Public land belongs to us all. Why should some get to use it for free? How about some return for the owner?
So, everyone pays a basic price for the piece of dirt and extra to those operators who provide facilities, right up to the much maligned providers of jumping cushions!

Enforcement would be the main problem, but I think there would be a high level of compliance. Most free campers are honest, aren't they? I can see a whole new industry of collecting national park fees growing up. What marvellous part time work for pensioner grey nomads.

Cheers,

Kevin
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Follow Up By: Freecamper - Tuesday, Jan 14, 2014 at 23:14

Tuesday, Jan 14, 2014 at 23:14
One the things I really like about open forums are the robust healthy debates they can generate and topics they can bring to light that otherwise might be hidden from us. Contributors should never feel that they can’t offer up an alternative view to any topic, no matter how unpopular that view might be for fear of being ridiculed.

However if you put an alternative view you must be prepared to defend that stance.

Kevin may suggest that a simple google search of Dr Bill Garner would be in order before you attempt to bring into question his character or to cast a shadow over his bona fides, academic record and motivation, just for the sake of trying to win a point. This only serves to cast some doubt about your own motivation for taking such an underhanded ill-informed approach. Anyway I’ll save you the trouble here is a link to his biography.

http://profiles.arts.monash.edu.au/bill-garner/biography/
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Follow Up By: Member - Kevin S (QLD) - Wednesday, Jan 15, 2014 at 11:01

Wednesday, Jan 15, 2014 at 11:01
Freecamper, The thing I like about forums is that you can say your piece and leave it that. Often the best course.

But I haven't been unkind to the good Doctor. You surely have heard the expression from academia "Publish or Perish". A brief glance at the bio on the link that you provided (Thank you) shows that he understands the concept and has pursued it with vigour!
Cheers, Kevin
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Follow Up By: Bazooka - Wednesday, Jan 15, 2014 at 13:00

Wednesday, Jan 15, 2014 at 13:00
Your first two points are nothing more than attempts to shoot the messenger Kevin. They add zero to the discussion. Did you have any particular issue with what Garner wrote? I think it's likely that whatever the (probably outgoing) Vic govt does will be broadly adopted by Labor in any case.

Wrt return to the taxpayer there are numerous activities and facilities which are "free" to users and which are heavily subsidised or totally underwritten by govt/taxpayers. Think sports events and arenas just for starters.
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Follow Up By: Member - Kevin S (QLD) - Wednesday, Jan 15, 2014 at 13:53

Wednesday, Jan 15, 2014 at 13:53
The "messengers" were never at risk from me, Bazooka. In nashos I was transferred to the artillery because my rifle training NCO wrote on my report "He could not hit a barn door with a hand full of gravel".

With regard to your comments on other "free" facilities I think far too much public money is spent on sporting facilities. A former Queensland government used to build a new football stadium at every election. One of the reasons we are so deeply in debt. And further to your comments further down this thread, I don't think there is an argument for a chain of free caravan parks around Australia, or serviced free camps. Or a lot of free other things either.

Cheers, Kevin
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Follow Up By: Member - Ian and Cheryl (QLD) - Wednesday, Jan 15, 2014 at 15:11

Wednesday, Jan 15, 2014 at 15:11
You may be right that Dr G is trying to promote his book "Born in a Tent" but as it happened I have just read the book. There is no axe grinding!
Despite the title and cover it is a history of camping in Australia - from Sydney Cove, Gold Diggings, the Shearers Strike, co-operatives, the Forces, the Great Depression, the Tent Embassies and so on. Garner's PhD was on the history of camping in Australia and has won awards. The book is certainly not a big push into either free or paid camps but an insight into our (mainly European) history in the bush and why we love it. An interesting comparison is that our forbears in the UK, even a couple of hundred years back, didn't appreciate camping as we do. Yep, could be something to do with the weather.
The free camping argument will never go away - but it is such a shame that so many free campers are absolute grots who just provide ammunition on why camping needs to be "regulated". I have invested to be totally self sufficient so long as I can get water every two or three weeks - I never leave any trace of my presence and it really is galling to have to pay for the privilege. The argument would be a lot easier to run if everyone did the right thing when they free camped.
Ian
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Follow Up By: Bazooka - Thursday, Jan 16, 2014 at 00:05

Thursday, Jan 16, 2014 at 00:05
I'm not a fan of disingenuity at any time Kevin, and particularly not as an argument technique on a public forum. I have no doubt you're well aware that I wasn't suggesting anything like a "chain of free caravan parks". If you aren't I'm happy to disabuse you of the fact in this post. Plenty of taxpayer funds are spent on infrastructure which is specifically available to small sections of the community. I have no priblem with most of those because they (generally) deliver something worthwhile, directly or indirectly. But I do also believe that basic needs of road travellers have been largely ignored by governments of all persuasion.
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Follow Up By: Member - Kevin S (QLD) - Thursday, Jan 16, 2014 at 08:17

Thursday, Jan 16, 2014 at 08:17
Well, Bazooka, since you obviously have given this matter much thought, what would you suggest as suitable facilities for governments to provide for travellers? And should, in your opinion, the travellers be required to pay for such facilities?
Cheers, Kevin
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Follow Up By: Bazooka - Thursday, Jan 16, 2014 at 11:22

Thursday, Jan 16, 2014 at 11:22
Doesn't take much thought at all Kevin. There are a few good examples of decent lay-bys/rest areas on highways around the traps which would require minimal change to permit short overnight stays for travellers. They are well off the main road, have room for a dozen or more vehicles, basic shelters with seats, toilets and taps. "Out back" some mods would be required, particularly with regard to water and composting dunnies. Servicing would be minimal. I think I've made it clear enough that there should be no charge for such facilities.
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Reply By: Motherhen - Wednesday, Jan 15, 2014 at 09:20

Wednesday, Jan 15, 2014 at 09:20
Welcome first poster Freecamper

This article is about charging camping fees in Victoria's National Parks. Victorian Parks do not charge park entry fees whereas in New South Wales they have taken National Park charges to extremes with daily entry fees in the popular parks, plus the highest camping fees of any state.

Should Victorian Parks try and recover some costs from campers alone by charging camping fees, or should all park users pay by charging entry fees not camping fees? Some states charge both.

For those wishing to make submissions, you could consider suggesting that costs be recovered from a small park entry fee (or annual/seasonal pass) to many, rather than hitting a minority of park visitors - the campers.

Bill Garner says

"Free camping on Crown land is a practice that dates back to first settlement. Older campers (especially Grey Nomads, a group particularly attached to free camping), remember that until the 1960s it was normal to camp by the side of the road."

While I agree with him that "camping" is a great Australia tradition, with so many more people putting pressure on some places, and in particular those grubs who refuse to do the right thing, free camping in some areas will be curtailed. There is still plenty of room in Australia to "get off the road for the night" and continue with the great Australian tradition that I love.

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Follow Up By: Freecamper - Wednesday, Jan 15, 2014 at 13:14

Wednesday, Jan 15, 2014 at 13:14
Hi Motherhen,
Thank you for the warm welcome to the forum, very much appreciated and hope over time I can become a worthwhile contributor.
I only wish that it was a case of paying to camp in NP’s but to quote Bill; “ And the issue is set to broaden as the department indicates that it intends to introduce fees in state parks as well”. The next logical step is to either restrict camping on all public land including state forests, or ban it altogether. What worries me is that currently we have some choice about where we camp and if we want to pay for amenities or not. Under the proposals before us now that choice with either be severely restricted or gone altogether.
I am located on the Murray River in close proximity to NSW and SA. We often visit NP’s in both states and happily pay for the privilege. I must say that the SA system of purchasing an annual Parks Pass is very good value for money as the amount of information provided in the pass in substantial and relevant to the travelling camper, it also allows full access to SA NP’s and associated camp grounds.
Best regards
Freecamper
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Reply By: Robin Miller - Wednesday, Jan 15, 2014 at 09:42

Wednesday, Jan 15, 2014 at 09:42
This was first reported and petitions went around pre-xmas FreeCamper, quite a few here did something so and I glad you raised the issue again.

What happens will depend on the extent of the fightback on 2 levels.

There is community level resistance which usually does little and there is personnal level resistance which basically creates a difference between what you can do and what others in similar situation can achieve.

While its made it more difficult for me to get around I applaud the fight that our indigenous brothers have undertaken and it has achieved large swathes of free camping land for them.

At a personnel level better information from sites like this can give you an edge over others who don't invest the time.

Worth remembering that for every year in Victoria that you genuinely delay a house purchase you effectively take approx $4000 back off the government in stamp duty.

Governments then charge everyone else an extra 1/10 of 1 cent to get back there lost $4000

The $3999.9 you are in front by gets a lot of free camping.


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Reply By: Tony H15 - Wednesday, Jan 15, 2014 at 09:45

Wednesday, Jan 15, 2014 at 09:45
I think you need to look at the bigger picture here, moves like this don't remain static. Eventually this idea will be taken up in other states and in time there will be nowhere to camp 'free' road side rest areas. I for one hate having to pay a fee where there are no facilities, not even rubbish bins.
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Follow Up By: Tony H15 - Wednesday, Jan 15, 2014 at 09:46

Wednesday, Jan 15, 2014 at 09:46
Sorry that should be 'not even road side rest areas'.
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Follow Up By: Bazooka - Wednesday, Jan 15, 2014 at 13:22

Wednesday, Jan 15, 2014 at 13:22
Dead right Tony. The argument should really be turned on its head and we should all be asking why governments of all persuasion aren't providing more and better basic lay-by and short stay out-of-town camping facilities for travellers right around the country. There have been some lay-by improvements along some parts of major highways in the last decade but nowhere near enough. Of course there are ongoing costs associated, just as there are with any infrastructure provided for public good. User pays is something which is inconsistently applied (even if you agree with it in principle), so I pay little regard to that "argument" in many cases.

Someone would probably know the figures for road travellers in this country but the miles covered annually would be enormous. Seems to me you can't be encouraging people to "see your own country first" while failing to do anything other than the most basic to provide some comfort to road travellers.
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Follow Up By: Member - Peter M (QLD) - Wednesday, Jan 15, 2014 at 14:14

Wednesday, Jan 15, 2014 at 14:14
I'm NOT against paying a small fee for some water, security, amenities (and power for a higher fee). Some community groups have taken over recreation & showgrounds to encourage people like us to stay awhile in their small town. These I support wherever I can.
As to free camping, having seen what some back packers and other itinerants leave behind I can understand why Government bodies are looking to recover costs.
Remember also that one group of travellers would like all free camping spots be restricted to "SELF CONTAINED VEHICLES ONLY". This should be a bigger worry. (Our vehicle IS self contained.) This would then stop tent campers, most camper trailers, most caravans and some motor homes.
WHO WINS THEN? AND WHERE DO THESE VEHICLES DROP THEIR CONTAMINATED GREY WATER (AFTER 24 HOURS GREY WATER IS CONSIDERED BY SOME, WHO SEEM TO KNOW, AS THE EQUIVALENT OF BLACK WATER). I have seen some of these travellers happily release their grey water on the road way.
Stay well and stay safe
PeterM (Qld)
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Follow Up By: Aussi Traveller - Wednesday, Jan 15, 2014 at 14:39

Wednesday, Jan 15, 2014 at 14:39
What do people think of this idea on free show grounds, roadside rest stops be it for a night or 48 hour.

In towns that DON'T have a caravan park, but may have a show ground or similar, or perhaps may have or be able to put a 24/48 hour roadside stop not far from the town, have a system or syndicate of town business that tourist of all types can utilise that offer a voucher to these areas to camp on a day by day basis.

For instance a tourist comes in my establishment and spends their well earned, in return I give them a free voucher to stay at the show ground, rest stop etc, then if they go to another shop they can get the same arrangement for another night, now these participating business in turn get your custom then the town doesn't miss out on an income and the traveller gets a free night or two.

If you have someone who doesn't want to use a business in the town then they can go else where and take their chances, I think you get my drift.

Phill




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Follow Up By: Member - Peter M (QLD) - Wednesday, Jan 15, 2014 at 17:06

Wednesday, Jan 15, 2014 at 17:06
This has the basics of a great idea.
Probably needs a little more thought but I would support a town that has this system in place.
Stay well and stay safe
PeterM (Qld)
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Follow Up By: Tony H15 - Wednesday, Jan 15, 2014 at 17:15

Wednesday, Jan 15, 2014 at 17:15
I can't say as I particularly like the idea, how much stuff can you buy? I don't know about anyone else, but I try not to travel any further than 300 - 400 klm in a day. This could work out costing more than staying in a caravan park/camping ground. It used to be that you couldn't camp within 25 klm of a caravan park, I don't think that applies anymore, in fact some towns provide free camps in the hope it may attract business. Caravaners/campers tend to pass on tips on where to stay, if one caravaner/camper doesn't spend in town, certainly some that follow on advice will, it's still money in the bank. Free camps provide competition and encourage greedy park owners to keep their prices within reasonable limits, remove them or remove them too far from caravan parks and caravan park fees will rise exponentially.
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Follow Up By: Member - Scott M (NSW) - Wednesday, Jan 15, 2014 at 22:04

Wednesday, Jan 15, 2014 at 22:04
"how much stuff can you buy?" say set a minimum .... $10 or $20 worth of goods .... not hard. Most people are buying milk / bread / fuel / fresh veggies & fruit / grog / knick-knacks on a regular basis - wouldn't see it as an imposition.

I thought Aussi Traveller's idea has some merit

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Reply By: Member - Beatit (QLD) - Wednesday, Jan 15, 2014 at 19:39

Wednesday, Jan 15, 2014 at 19:39
Thinking of creating a notice to place on my tent/camper trailer/caravan that reads,

"I'm not camping! I am resting and getting over a migraine which normally takes about 4 days, thank you for your understanding!"

Kind regards
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Follow Up By: Motherhen - Wednesday, Jan 15, 2014 at 23:57

Wednesday, Jan 15, 2014 at 23:57
And that is what a rest stop is for - to rest until it is safe for you to drive again, how ever long it takes. Sometimes my husband as driver gets a migraine, so we stop at the first safe opportunity. No matter what time of day we stop, it is unlikely we will move until the next morning as we do not tow at night in case of animals on the road. If anyone insisted we move (unless for a real logical reason like we were blocking his driveway) I do not have to experience to drive with our big rig so we would not move; as simple as that.

If we found a campground that had a fee such as an honesty box Parks fee, we would of course pay, and would choose this over a roadside rest area to get away from road noise.

Motherhen
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Follow Up By: Member - Beatit (QLD) - Thursday, Jan 16, 2014 at 17:28

Thursday, Jan 16, 2014 at 17:28
G'day Motherhen,

The issue is probably worthy of its own thread. there must be a responsibility to being safe and I'm not going as far as to say that this is the sole responsibility of the transport departments in each state I feel that they must bear a fair portion of this responsibility, seeing as they are the owners of most traffic legislations and continue to preach safe driving. Notwithstanding this I feel that I have a responsibility to be safe and if that means if I need to I will pull over.

All levels of Government dodge and weave this responsibility because it costs money but really only as much as they have made a rod for their own backs, such as health and safety, insurance issues, garbage and toilet facilities, on and off ramps as well as ongoing maintenance. Now none of these are essential for me but they feel a need to self impose these requirements which really makes no sense as they then desire to recover costs.

They clearly have been railroaded from the KISS principle.

Kind regards
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Reply By: Nutta - Wednesday, Jan 15, 2014 at 22:01

Wednesday, Jan 15, 2014 at 22:01
Well its not the end of the world, and i don't think the other states will necessarily follow vic as the state is obviously run by clowns.
I think there will always be free camping around most of this awesome country.
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Reply By: Hilux fan - Friday, Jan 17, 2014 at 11:49

Friday, Jan 17, 2014 at 11:49
DEPI called for submissions on this late last year (http://www.depi.vic.gov.au/forestry-and-land-use/visiting-parks-and-forests/national-parks-camping-and-accommodation-fees). Submissions are currently being considered before recommendations are made to the Minister, but as the changes are meant to come into effect on the 1st March, this should happen soon. A list of parks (national, state and others) which will be affected is shown here (http://www.depi.vic.gov.au/forestry-and-land-use/visiting-parks-and-forests/national-parks-camping-and-accommodation-fees/parks-subject-to-proposed-changes-from-1-march-2014).
AnswerID: 524661

Follow Up By: Freecamper - Sunday, Jan 19, 2014 at 23:59

Sunday, Jan 19, 2014 at 23:59
How does the average person find out about calls for submissions I have often wondered. One might expect that if they were genuinely interested that they would post notices on forums such as this.
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Follow Up By: Hilux fan - Monday, Jan 20, 2014 at 10:12

Monday, Jan 20, 2014 at 10:12
Freecamper,

I posted a message about this back when the call for submissions was released. I saw the original notification in a newspaper ad. I know many forum followers said they were planning to make submissions.
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Follow Up By: Freecamper - Monday, Jan 20, 2014 at 19:53

Monday, Jan 20, 2014 at 19:53
Cheers Hilux fan well done, without giving too much away I would have expected to be notified about the submission process as I work in a related business and have extensive networks who should have understood the ramifications of the policy, but nothing, none of us heard boo. This makes very suspicious.

Anyway more power to you and congratulations on bringing it to the forums attention and I truly hope people did respond.
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Follow Up By: Hilux fan - Thursday, Jan 23, 2014 at 09:00

Thursday, Jan 23, 2014 at 09:00
Freecamper,

One site I have found very useful is a Facebook page called EPBC (Environment Protection & Biodiversity Conservation) Referral Notices (https://www.facebook.com/pages/EPBC-Environment-Protection-Biodiversity-Conservation-Referral-Notices/304130942973962).

It's run by an individual who keeps track of all EPBC notices and quite a few press releases from Ministers calling for submissions on various things. There's a recent one on wild dog aerial baiting for example.
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