POPULAR camping spots along the Murray could be subject to fees under proposed changes by the Victorian Government.
Member for Northern Victoria Daniel Young said families who currently enjoy free camping at three popular camping areas would be slugged with fees under a current proposal.
Mr Young said Will’s Bend, Farley Bend and Stanton’s Bend were identified as areas the government planned to ‘diversify’, with plans to set up a booking system that attracts fees.
Special Minister of State Gavin Jennings disclosed the sites in a written reply to a question raised in September by Mr Young, as to whether the River Red Gum Parks Draft Management Plan sought to reinstate camping fees at state parks.
Echuca Moama Tourism chief executive Kathryn Mackenzie said the planned proposal to charge for camping needs to be thoroughly explored.
“The recently released River Red Gum Parks Draft Management Plan stated it would investigate the opportunity to charge for camping in the high traffic areas such as Will’s Bend and Farley Bend,” she said.
“Integral to any change must be the opportunity to improve visitor infrastructure and ensure that our parks remain a quality visitor experience and a key attractor for the region.
“One of the main concerns of any tourism body is the quality of visitor servicing and the visitor experience. Overcrowded parks with few facilities often make for less than desirable visitor experiences.”
Mr Young, who successfully lobbied the Government in 2015 to have the state park fees at basic camping sites scrapped, said it now appears that the Government will be walking away from that policy.
“In September, Minister Jennings assured me the Government had no intention of ‘preventing people from being able to get access to the park system’,” Mr Young said.
“The minister then states the fees would allow for ‘greater amenity’ that would ‘attract a wider range of users’.
“It sounds to me like the minister and the Government are trying to prevent access for families with costly fees, to make way for a different demographic.
“This is a slap in the face to the generations of hardworking families who have paid their taxes to enjoy camping at spots like Will’s Bend, Farley Bend and Stanton’s Bend and now risk being shut out.”