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Avoid camping during the school holidays

By Ron Moon, 28 Jun 2016 Opinion

Avoid camping during the school holidays

Ron remembers why he dislikes the school holidays.

I’M OUT of touch with what happens over the Easter holidays. Like a lot of people who can get away at times other than public or school holidays, we prefer to keep a low profile over the Easter break.

This year was no different, with one exception: We were away camping right up to Friday morning, and again from Monday onwards. Over the busy time we were ensconced at a friend’s place out of Mansfield, beside Victoria’s High Country.

As we were pulling out of our camp in the Buckland River Valley on the Friday morning, I literally had a vehicle on my front bumper taking over our campsite. When we got out into the King Valley, the pleasant camps along the river were jam-packed with tents, camper trailers, caravans and motorhomes. If I had been planning to camp there and found it like a crowded mini-suburbia, I would have gone home.

And, late on Easter Monday morning as we drove into the delightful Granny’s Flat Campground on the Jamieson River, there were dozens of camps set up. By all accounts half of them had already left by that time, and by evening the number of campers was down to three. Just the way we like it.

The Mansfield paper reported local businesses had their busiest period ever over this year’s Easter and, as we shifted camp over the mountains to Dargo, the local store owner told us Easter Saturday was their most hectic single day ever!

One of the reasons the High Country may have been so busy was that the reported blue-green algae outbreak on the Murray River just before Easter might have changed a lot of people’s minds about camping up that way.

Whatever the cause, Easter was a huge weekend for campers right through the High Country. I’ve since renewed my vow never to go camping over Easter (or other equally busy times) unless I have some private land to go to, or I can get to somewhere very remote.

The following weekend we were at Talbotville. There were still quite a few campers around (the school holidays were on), and something happened that we’d never experienced before while camping in Victoria: a park ranger came over and had a talk with us. I wasn’t doing anything wrong and I was gobsmacked!

Sure, I’ve had rangers pull me over when they thought I was camping in the wrong area, and a few years ago a ranger pulled me aside for taking photographs in a national park, stating I was a professional and professional activities were banned there.

However, there was a reason for the friendly exchange at Talbotville. A fire reduction burn was planned the next day using the Crooked River Track as a fire control line. The rangers – four of them in two vehicles – were out telling people what was going on and what they should do.

There should be more of this public interaction. Rangers, instead of being stuck in an office or cocooned in their vehicle, should be out and about talking to the very people who are using public land. A friendly ranger’s presence in the popular camping areas over the peak holiday periods would lead to fewer issues of unattended fires, dumping of rubbish and vandalism. It would also be a winner as far as public relations are concerned.

We hope it’ll happen again soon, but if it occurs only during the Easter holidays, Viv and I probably won’t see it!