No permit, no party: Park authorities spoil eight-year-old's birthday

PARKS Victoria has come under attack after parents at an eight-year-old’s birthday party were warned they needed a permit to be on the Port Campbell beach.

A Parks Victoria spokeswoman yesterday said she had been made aware there had been an issue raised at the Port Campbell beach last week.

“We understand that people want to be able to enjoy our parks with their families and friends,” she said.

“It is also our responsibility under the National Parks Act 1975 to ensure our parks and waterways remain healthy and resilient, and in the case of organised activities and celebrations, the legislation requires the public to have a permit. 

“This helps us to maintain awareness of what is happening in the park and that the safety of the people enjoying activities is ensured.”

The spokeswoman said that at Port Campbell last week rangers asked that in future a permit be obtained before allowing the event to continue.

She said an organised activity was defined as an event by private clients and attended by invited guests only, held within a designated area of the park. 

“The Act covers all parks, but there will be different criteria for some specific parks, such as Werribee Park and Point Nepean, where events are held regularly,” she said.

The issue has sparked hot debate, with the grandmother of one of the children, who did not wish to be named, saying her family had gathered at the beach for more than a century.

“I cannot believe that my grandchildren, whose ancestors have enjoyed the beach at Port Campbell for six generations, were reprimanded by a park ranger while celebrating their friend’s eighth birthday party on the foreshore because it was an organised event,” she said in a text message.

Yesterday the grandmother confirmed she had maintained her rage and would be taking up the issue with local Parks Victoria officials.

“The parents were told they needed a permit,” she said. 

“There were only six or eight kids at the party last Friday.

“I would ask are we living in Russia?”

The grandmother said it was simply a case of guidelines not being applicable.

“It’s regulations gone mad,” she said. 

“Two people meeting at the beach could be classed as an organised event. 

“We’re talking about a couple of kids at an eighth birthday party.

“My family has been having picnics and cricket matches on the beach for years. 

“This was not a wedding or a large, organised treasure hunt. 

“It’s just ridiculous,” she said. 

The regulations cover all national parks, including Port Campbell, which covers much of the Great Ocean Road, Great Otway, the Grampians, Lower Glenelg, Mount Richmond, Mount Eccles and Cobboboonee.

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