Camping Fees abolished in VIC

Submitted: Thursday, Apr 02, 2015 at 15:09
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The Victorian Government has just announced that camping fees in Victorian National Parks where there are few facilities will be abolished forthwith and that the online booking system for the same sites will be abolished from July 1. At long last a Government has seen the light and restored the great camping tradition for families and tourists.

http://www.theage.com.au/victoria/basic-camping-fee-axed-in-national-parks-20150402-1mdhoi.html

I wonder when Queensland will wake up.
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Reply By: Member - Neil W (VIC) - Thursday, Apr 02, 2015 at 15:41

Thursday, Apr 02, 2015 at 15:41
What great news, common sense has prevailed

It is interesting that the system which caused so much angst and was not user friendly, was only going to raise $600,000 after they cut $88 million from the Parks budget.

The $600K wouldn't have done much to fix the alleged maintenance backlog.

Thanks to Four Wheel Drive Vic and everyone else involved.

Happy Easter

Neil.
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Reply By: Member - John and Val - Thursday, Apr 02, 2015 at 15:42

Thursday, Apr 02, 2015 at 15:42
A refreshing change of attitude, especially the acknowledgment that access to nature and "the great outdoors" is desirable and should not be hindered by overly bureaucratic fee structures. And nice timing too, pre-Easter. Lets hope that Queensland sees the light soon.

Cheers,

Val
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Follow Up By: Frank P (NSW) - Thursday, Apr 02, 2015 at 16:33

Thursday, Apr 02, 2015 at 16:33
.... and NSW. But they're still in the process of implementing, so they'll want to waste the full amount of money allocated to the project before deciding, as Vic did, that it doesn't work.

Grrrr
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Reply By: Robin Miller - Thursday, Apr 02, 2015 at 15:44

Thursday, Apr 02, 2015 at 15:44
I'm worried , common sense doesn't usually come from governments.
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Its ok now , I'm stuck in traffic across the top of Melbourne , pity we don't have an east west link , balance has returned.
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Follow Up By: nats - Thursday, Apr 02, 2015 at 17:43

Thursday, Apr 02, 2015 at 17:43
I am feeling very balanced. I'm on the train from Pakenham - my daily commute these days - and it is only going to get better with plans announced recently. Back to my book now!
Nast.
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Follow Up By: wholehog - Thursday, Apr 02, 2015 at 20:45

Thursday, Apr 02, 2015 at 20:45
lol...lol...well said Robin..
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Reply By: vk1dx - Thursday, Apr 02, 2015 at 17:14

Thursday, Apr 02, 2015 at 17:14
My god!!! Hit me with a dead fish. Good idea.
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Reply By: ExplorOz Team - Michelle - Thursday, Apr 02, 2015 at 19:31

Thursday, Apr 02, 2015 at 19:31
Thanks for posting Chris. It is quite incredible and good to know that people power can sometimes prevail. Gives us confidence to keep complaining loudly when the Government stuff up.
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Reply By: Member - Stephen L (Clare SA) - Thursday, Apr 02, 2015 at 20:27

Thursday, Apr 02, 2015 at 20:27
Good Evening and Happy Easter Chris

That is great news, but try telling that to our stupid South Australian Government, that is now implementing online bookings for our National Parks.

Cheers


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Follow Up By: Idler Chris - Vic - Friday, Apr 03, 2015 at 14:27

Friday, Apr 03, 2015 at 14:27
Hi Stephen, happy Easter to you and Fiona also.
I, and many others, have spent many many hours fighting for this outcome. You and your fellow Croweaters can now come to Vic and enjoy the fruits of our labour. It is now the Croweaters turn to return the favour.
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Reply By: Honky - Thursday, Apr 02, 2015 at 21:28

Thursday, Apr 02, 2015 at 21:28
If government does something sensible, be afraid, very afraid.

Honky
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Reply By: Steve in Kakadu - Thursday, Apr 02, 2015 at 22:07

Thursday, Apr 02, 2015 at 22:07
This is great news to those that think free camping is the right of every Australian, well be careful what you wish for because there are just as many people out there that whinge, bitch, moan and complain when they turn up to a camp ground and find bleep everywhere.

That's right now they don't collect a fee, they don't have to give a bleep about the place either.

The same thing happened in Kakadu when Litttle Johnny Howard made a decision to vote grab in the 03/04 election and remove park entry fees, well guess what he also took a great chunk out of the Kakadu budget and the place went down hill big time, the infrastructure was neglected etc.

Now with the new fee structure being put in place next year, we can now put money back into the park and bring it back to life.

Trust me taking fees away from these places is not a win it is a big lose.

As for the camp ground booking idea, I can't comment as it is something I haven't dealt with.

To me this is a lose lose situation.
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Follow Up By: pop2jocem - Friday, Apr 03, 2015 at 12:40

Friday, Apr 03, 2015 at 12:40
Spot on Steve, couldn't have said it better.

As you said "be careful what you wish for"

Now, where do I line up for the free lunch???

Cheers
Pop
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Follow Up By: Idler Chris - Vic - Friday, Apr 03, 2015 at 12:59

Friday, Apr 03, 2015 at 12:59
No one has suggested free camping as a RIGHT, read the post carefully.
The objection is to camp fees that are collected being spent on the administration of the collection system with little or nothing going to the maintenance of the National Parks. Additionally an online booking system which does not work as there is no one to police it. Suggestions that actually work in the real world and that return the vast majority of any fees collected to provide the camping facilities would be more helpful.
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Follow Up By: pop2jocem - Friday, Apr 03, 2015 at 14:51

Friday, Apr 03, 2015 at 14:51
OK, how about the fees being increased to an amount that WILL cover all costs to maintain these camping areas to a reasonable standard. Rubbish removal, toilet maintenance, etc and in addition cover the costs involved with staffing sufficient to have a ranger show up and boot out anyone camping in your pre booked spot?

I'll lay a bet that the yelling and wailing will be heard coast to coast.



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Reply By: Motherhen - Thursday, Apr 02, 2015 at 23:40

Thursday, Apr 02, 2015 at 23:40
Before you all get too excited over this great move by the new government, remember it is only on a number of campgrounds with basic services, such as pit toilets only or no toilets at all that the fees are being rescinded at this stage. Good news also that fees will be reviewed in other parks campgrounds.

Environment Minister Lisa Neville said Parks Victoria was reviewing other charges, to see whether the balance was right between sustainable funding and affordable holidays for families.

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Follow Up By: Member - Boobook - Friday, Apr 03, 2015 at 09:25

Friday, Apr 03, 2015 at 09:25
While that is true Motherhen, the charges that are still in place are for developed locations which are a premium campsite, and in high demand. A reasonable charge IMHO.

As a regular user of parks in Vic I can say that this seems fair where the users pay for improved locations.

The sites that have just had the charges removed were totally unimproved or awful smelly drop pits that had little or no maintenance. The cost for a a couple of families with 3 or so cars was more than at a serviced caravan park on the beach in say Lorne. And if you arrived at your camp site and it was already taken there was never a ranger to resolve the issue.
I went to a camp site and talked to the Ranger, they hadn't been there for 3 years.

As a regular user, a very good solution IMHO.
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Reply By: Motherhen - Thursday, Apr 02, 2015 at 23:45

Thursday, Apr 02, 2015 at 23:45
Chris, we found parks campground fees in New South Wales the dearest, particularly as they have daily entry fees as well.Queensland parks are mostly entry fee free and charge the very modest fee of $4.45 per person, or did when I last checked and updated.

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Reply By: Sigmund - Friday, Apr 03, 2015 at 07:36

Friday, Apr 03, 2015 at 07:36
Vic should return to a mixed revenue model as used by some other states, both park entry and camping fees. Park entry for the two popular NPs for which it was charged was scrapped several years ago. The tech for remote or prior payment is good enough that you don't need someone at entry boxes costing almost as much as the takings.

The massive staff cuts to Parks in Vic and Qld must also be reversed. There is more not less pressure on these priceless resources to be managed these days. Eg. more use of Fraser Island yet the staff is down to 11 from 60.

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Reply By: Sand Man (SA) - Friday, Apr 03, 2015 at 08:15

Friday, Apr 03, 2015 at 08:15
Good news for some I guess.

I was one of the half dozen or so that paid big money in February, for a few days camping at Johanna Beach Campground in the Great Otway National Park.
The cost was over $100 for a four night stay and yet the Campground was full of freeloaders who not only helped themselves to the limited facilities, but in some cases trashed and abused the place as well.
Kind of spoilt our stay somewhat.
Lack of policing by relevant authorities meant that those of us who paid for a site online prior to arriving, found that some other non-paying bugger was set up in that reserved site and didn't give a toss about others rights.
Without a Ranger or Police in tow one had little choice but to find somewhere else.

Interestingly for a National Park, dogs were allowed in some sites and that is why we chose the campsite and paid for the privilege of camping there.

It may be very well that folk think it is a good idea to have free camping in National Parks, but someone has to pay for any comfort facilities in place and the wages for staff to attempt to keep these facilities clean.

The intent was for those folk who used the facilities in National Parks such as this was to contribute towards the upkeep (as they should) but with this change, it will revert back to everybody contributing, whether they camp in National Parks, or not.

So interstate visitors like me, will be able to camp for free now, as we don't contribute to the Victorian economy by way of taxes:-)

Bill


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Reply By: Idler Chris - Vic - Friday, Apr 03, 2015 at 11:43

Friday, Apr 03, 2015 at 11:43
I see that there are some who are not jumping for joy, so maybe a bit more explanation. Not all fees have beeen abolished, only in the more remote places with few if any facilities. The MOST IMPORTANT part of this announcement is the abolishing of the online booking system, it simply does not work in the remoter places. If any Government wishes to put in an online booking system then they must also provide the rangers and a penality system to police it. As Sandman pointed out he did the right thing but was surrounded by others who did not. You simply cannot make rules if you cannot/will not enforce them.
With this announcement the estimated cost to revenue is $600,000. The cost of maintaining a system (red tape) to collect this money is more than likely of a similar amount, so if there is any gain from these fees it would be but a drop in the ocean and just not worth the effort.
No sensible person would agrue that we should not make some payment for the facilities that we use. However it must be cost effective where a substantial amount of the funds collected is actually used to provide the facilities being provided.
Parks Victoria have a slogan “Healthy Parks, Healthy People” There are social and health benefits for people, particularly young families, using our National Parks and these should be encouraged. I am retired and can afford camp fees, but many young families can not.
Next is the tourism aspect. By encouraging use of our National Parks we generate tourism within our own country and the subsequent benefit to local businesses. Governments spend millions to promote tourism, maybe a little less on glossy ads and a bit more on the facilities to attract the tourists.
In Victoria we have very good relationships between the land users (read Clubs) and the land managers which is envied by by most, if not all other States. It is this relationship that has changed this policy. Whether you are a FWD driver, horse rider, motor bike rider, fisherman, bush walker, shooter, or what ever you wish to do in our National Parks I urge you to join an appropriate Club and engage with the land managers to assist them in looking after our public assets for our mutual benefit. This is working in Victoria and I commend to all.
The provision of National Parks is a function of Government in a similar way to schools, hospitals, roads, etc. There is a significant cost to Government (taxpayer) of providing National Parks whether there is camping or not. Camping fees should only attempt to cover the costs of providing camping facilities and not the whole cost of our National Parks.
South Aust have had a Desert Parks Pass for many years now. It currently costs $150 (less for a renewal). I have never heard anyone complain about the cost. All I have ever heard is how easy and simple the system is. There are other Parks Passes which are similar to this and I would suggest that this model has proven to be successful, and is the way to go.
My last suggestion would be to install more solar powered, motion activated cameras to record the comings and goings to catch those doing the wrong thing, be it vandalism, hooning, illegal camp fires, non payment of a Parks Pass etc. Automatic fines in the mail much the same as our tollways. Big brother maybe, but not a concern to those doing the right thing.
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Follow Up By: Member - John and Val - Friday, Apr 03, 2015 at 13:14

Friday, Apr 03, 2015 at 13:14
Excellent post Chris. We always need to look beyond the $$$ to see what actually works.

Cheers,

Val.
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Reply By: Motherhen - Friday, Apr 03, 2015 at 13:02

Friday, Apr 03, 2015 at 13:02
My objection to the introduction and increase of camping fees was that it was being put solely on the campers to pay for the infrastructure through camping fees, yet day visitors who would use them to they degree thus being subsidised by the campers. That aspect I objected to.

Perhaps they have found that most of the would be campers chose not to pay the extreme price, and were coming as day visitors free. Didn't the department that dreamed up the high fees see that coming?

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Follow Up By: Idler Chris - Vic - Friday, Apr 03, 2015 at 14:20

Friday, Apr 03, 2015 at 14:20
We are talking about Government here Motherhen. They published their plan before it was implemented and asked for feedback and comments. They were told it would be a disaster and were given examples of what has happened in other States, but they took no notice and implemented this system anyway.
To you South Australians, I would if I was you, inundate the politicians and the Parks people with what is wrong with these online booking systems for the non popular places otherwise you will ended up with the same problem we have just had to deal with.
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Follow Up By: Motherhen - Friday, Apr 03, 2015 at 15:00

Friday, Apr 03, 2015 at 15:00
Yes Chris and I am cynical enough to say in most cases, public consultation takes place after the decision has been made just so they can say they did consult.

South Australian Parks were a pleasure to deal with. Initially internet booking and payment only, they took on board feedback and are implementing other ways to suit those who do not have smart phones and who deal in cash not credit cards.

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Reply By: Hairy (NT) - Sunday, Apr 05, 2015 at 11:52

Sunday, Apr 05, 2015 at 11:52
Gday,
I just wonder how well they thought it through?
The money has to come from somewhere..........if the users don't pay someone else will be, or the services wont be provided.
I don't particularly like paying for services I don't use or need, and think a better system where you pay for a key to the facilities you use would be a fairer way to go maybe, but to drop the fees altogether will result in a drop of services, another tax somewhere else, or people who don't use the parks paying for them anyway?

Time will tell I suppose.....

Cheers
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Follow Up By: Member - johnat - Sunday, Apr 05, 2015 at 16:58

Sunday, Apr 05, 2015 at 16:58
Hairy,
I agree, but I also don;t like the idea of paying a fee for camping in a facility that is only a small step up from nothing. There was very little by way of "services" provided.
The fees abolished were for ONLY those campsites that have little in the way of facilities provided, so a bush camp with a "long drop" or no toilet. That much I got from reading the article that was linked to.

When in doubt, check the facts!
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Follow Up By: Idler Chris - Vic - Sunday, Apr 05, 2015 at 18:28

Sunday, Apr 05, 2015 at 18:28
Hairy, one does not believe that it is not fair to pay for the facilities used. In this case the fees collected did not go to maintaining the facilities they went in costs associated with collecting the fees. The fees that have been abolished will have NO affect on the facilities provided.
If National P arks cannot come up with a cost effective and workable booking system for any given Park then have no system and its first in best dressed, a system everyone understands.
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