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A controversial plan to open Victoria’s river frontages up to camping will become official from September 1st. The Victorian government will allow camping on 27 river frontages in northern Victoria. The land is currently licensed by farmers.
The 27 sites will be on the banks of the Goulburn, Broken, Ovens, Campaspe, Loddon, and Murray rivers with the specific locations still to be announced. Currently, people are permitted to walk, fish, and picnic alongside the rivers, but this will be the first time that camping has been allowed. Hundreds more sites are set to be announced at a later date.
Farmers have been protesting the decision since it was first proposed, with more than 1,000 responses during the consultation period. “We have been uninformed from the beginning, we have been treated with no respect,” said Rutherglen farmer, Lynne Riley to ABC News. “This amendment makes our business totally unworkable and we’ve become the sacrificial lamb to the leisure vote.”
Confusion arises from the lack of explanation around how the land will be managed after campers have left. Farmers with river frontage licences have been caring and grazing on the land for decades, and generally keep the land clear of things such as blackberries and fallen trees.
“Let’s go back and remember people have always been able to access this land and any threats to biosecurity are…extremely minimal,” said Victorian agricultural minister, Mary-Anne Thomas.
The land will be managed by the Department of Environment, Land, Water, and Planning, along with the Victorian Fisheries Authority, and Parks Victoria.