Budj Bim National Park is getting a poor reputation due to its lack of a full-time ranger, state opposition environment spokesman Nick Wakeling says.
However, during a visit to the site on Wednesday, Mr Wakeling stopped short of promising to resolve the problem by reinstating a full-time position if his party wins government at this year’s state election.
Mr Wakeling said the current government had made the ranger part-time after the previous coalition government put a full-time ranger in place in 2011.
He said the purpose of his visit to the national park was to learn more about the impact of the removal of a full-time ranger, and that information would guide his party in the lead-up to the election.
Mr Wakeling said people were not getting value for money for the camp sites, which cost $52.30 per night.
“If their experience is one where they turn up where it’s unmanned, overgrown, where the experience from a camping perspective is poor then people’s impression would be this is not a place you should visit,” he said.
South West Coast MP Roma Britnell said people had complained to her about the high prices and overgrown vegetation at the camping site and she had heard less people were visiting and staying overnight.
Parks Victoria area chief ranger Don Tumney said fees were set on a statewide basis and were determined by services on offer.
“The campground at Budj Bim National Park is classified at a high-level because of the septic toilets, hot showers and barbecues in the picnic area,” Mr Tumney said.
“The campsite and the national park are patrolled three times a week, more so when there are days of total fire ban.”
Mr Tumney said recent short weather cycles of heavy rain followed by sunshine had resulted in vegetation growing particularly quickly this month, and staff had been mowing and bush-cutting picnic and campground areas and along walking tracks.
Environment Minister Lily D’Ambrosio said her government had created 53 new ranger positions and 15 corporate staff positions through funding of $20.4 million over four years and $1.5 million in ongoing funding and had scrapped unfair camping fees enforced by the previous Coalition government.