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Monday, 28 Oct 2013

Have your say about Vic National Parks camping and accom fees before Nov. 22

Parks Vic fireplace and typical formed campsite.
Parks Vic fireplace and typical
formed campsite.

By Garth Morrison Editor GoSeeAustralia and GoSeeNewZealand

The Victorian National parks Camping and Accommodation Fees Regulatory Impact Statement says the opportunity to camp or stay in accommodation in Victorian National Parks was first introduced over 100 years ago at Wilsons Promontory National Park and Mount Buffalo National Park.

These opportunities have grown so that now visitors can immerse themselves year round in parks by pitching a tent, parking a caravan or camper trailer, or relaxing in a cabin or wilderness retreat. Staying in parks has grown significantly in popularity over the years, now attracting over 2 million overnight stays at over 680 campsites and a range of accommodation types such as cabins, huts, lodges, wilderness retreats and lightstation cottages, the statement says.

Victoria’s National Parks and reserves attract about 30.1 million visitors per annum. Of these it is estimated that nearly 2.26 million (7.5 percent) are overnight visitors utilising the camping and accommodation opportunities available throughout the state, the statement says.
GSA campsite Point Leo  Victoria
GSA campsite Point Leo Victoria

Camping and accommodation charges on public land in Victoria have been applied to selected areas (such as Tidal River, Wilsons Promontory National Park) for decades. Currently camping and accommodation fees are charged at only 24 of the 133 parks and reserves (18 per cent), with 109 camping grounds requiring a camping permit. Six parks offer roofed accommodation facilities and services, including cabins, cottages, huts, lodges and wilderness retreats, the statement says.

At present, the total annual cost of delivering camping and accommodation facilities and services within Victoria’s national and other parks is estimated to average $17.8 million over the next 10 years.

However, only $6.5 million is currently collected in revenue from user fees and charges. The estimated shortfall of $11.3 million is, The Victorian Government and Parks authorities say neither fair nor sustainable, the statement argues.

The current pricing framework for camping and roofed accommodation in national and state parks does not provide for financially sustainable delivery of these services, it says.

Overall, the estimated revenue yield from camping and accommodation facilities under the proposed fees is $15.3 million, in comparison to the revenue yield under the current fees, which is estimated at $6.5 million.

Campgrounds and roofed accommodation offered in parks are currently provided at significant cost to taxpayers and do not align with the Government’s cost recovery principles.

Editors note: Significant  bushfire and weather events have caused major damage to Victoria's parks.

The Victorian Government now collects $100 per annum from Victorian ratepayers. This is in addition to their utility services bills which in the case of electricity and water have increased by up to 30 percent. Those same ratepayers are hit again when they visit parks in Victoria.
Mornington Peninsula NP
Mornington Peninsula NP

Ratepayers are expected to pay full camping fees for the Parks Victoria managed  services they are already underwriting. The broader community, that is those who are not Victorian ratepayers, clearly benefit from the Victorian ratepayers annual subsidy of the parks service.

How is this ratepayer subsidy a fair share in users pays terms of the overall cost?

GoSee struggles to understand the Victorian Government's argument that - "However, unless the users of our magnificent public land estate and natural assets contribute a fair share of the cost of providing and managing these camping and accommodation sites, providing for these facilities and services will become more difficult," the statement says.

 It is true that - Current camping fees have an inconsistent and unstructured relationship with the level of service provided and are generally only applied at high visitation sites or where collection is easiest.

The idea that  the Department  of Environment and Primary Industries (DEPI)  argues that  Parks Victoria managed campsites are comparable with mainstream commercial caravan parks is problematic. This is not and has not been their role. They are often basic camping accommodation in beautiful places and loved for that reason by users and the Parks Victoria staff who protect them. Users choose them as authentic camping because they seek and enjoy that experience.

In the commercial caravan park world many would struggle to command and sustain current rates.  Customer service and reliable hot water are clear examples of regular shortfalls. The too often high-handed padlocked approach to providing toilet services and access at some parks sites jars with women.

GoSee women have been exposed to this environment over the years. As they are 'spoilt' by extensive experience in all styles of caravan park accommodation throughout Australia and New Zealand there is an educated preference among them not to camp at National and State Park related campgrounds.
Shower and toilets Grampians NP campsite
Shower and toilets Grampians NP campsite

Fees and financial impacts under the preferred option:

Fees (peak rates only) under the preferred option are outlined in the Victorian National Parks Camping and Accommodation Fees. The proposed fees for camping facilities are an increase on the current fees, in particular where fees are being introduced for the basic and very basic campsites for the first time. This reflects the current modest fee structure, where patrons are being subsidised by tax payers and camping sites are not being adequately maintained, the statement says.

The high and low of the new proposed camping price range is:

Camping current powered very high demand period $55-proposed $66.

Basic and very basic $0 proposed $13.

Cabins current $195 proposed $236.

Huts current $89 proposed $131.

There are about 680 campgrounds in Victoria's parks and reserves, costing significant public funds to maintain and operate each year. These costs need to be recovered so that Victoria can continue to provide great visitor experiences in nature, with safe, modern campgrounds and facilities, the statement says.

The current funding model is insufficient to ensure the maintenance and safety of all Victoria's public land campsites. The standard of facilities and maintenance across these sites will begin to suffer unless changes are  made the statement says.

The Government has prepared the regulatory impact statement (RIS) to assess the impact of introducing a user pays approach to camping fees for all parks and reserves managed by Parks Victoria. This is part of the Government's efforts to make sure that Victorians continue to have access to these beautiful places and that the costs of providing safe, visitor-friendly facilities and services are sustainable and affordable, the statement says.

These changes will provide longer-term financial sustainability for these special places.

Maintaining the safety, facilities and services at campgrounds makes them more attractive to visitors, which contributes to people's well-being and boosts tourism and economic activity in regional Victoria, the statement says.

The new approach is expected to be introduced in Victoria's parks and reserves from 1 March 2014, the statement says.

Victorian National Parks Camping and Accommodation Fees – Regulatory Impact Statement.

The Department of Environment and Primary Industries (DEPI) proposal for a user-pays approach to charges for camping and roofed accommodation in parks and reserves managed by Parks Victoria.

People are invited to provide feedback on the RIS.

Written submissions should be forwarded by 5pm Friday 22 November 2013 via either by post care of:

Camping and Accommodation Fees

Land Management Policy Division

Department of Environment and Primary Industries

Level 3, 8 Nicholson Street



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

Editors note: A byline  on a GoSee Information Article indicts opinion.

Source for this Information Article is



Editors note: Here are some related Information Articles from the free GoSee  library:

Halls Gap workshop seeks answers in nuts and bolts look at bush camping

Wild weather brings significant damage to Grampians NP walking tracks

Big caravan parks response says - No such thing as free camping, it is just not user pays

For more information
contact: Garth Morrison
Editor Go See Australia and Go See New Zealand Directory
Email: garth@contact.com.au
A Parks Victoria official firepit
A Parks Victoria official firepit
Campsite vehicle access is controlled by posts
Campsite vehicle access is controlled by posts
Effective toilets Borough Huts campsite Grampians NP
Effective toilets Borough Huts campsite Grampians NP
Grampians campsites are a diverse challenge
Grampians campsites are a diverse challenge
GSA HJ60 ContACT heads into Victorias Grampians National Park
GSA HJ60 ContACT heads into Victoria's Grampians National Park
Grampians views GoSeeAustralia Pic
Grampians views GoSeeAustralia Pic
Mornington Peninsula Nat  Park
Mornington Peninsula Nat Park
Grampians waterfalls
Grampians waterfalls
GSA RV camping crew Halls Gap  Lakeside Tourist  Park  at  $28  per  night
GSA RV camping crew Halls Gap Lakeside Tourist Park at $28 per night
Mountain greenery Black Spur  Victoria
Mountain greenery Black Spur Victoria
Original thought produced this campsite bucket shower
Original thought produced this campsite bucket shower
Out  there  in Victorian Grampians
Out there in Victorian Grampians

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