Patrols to protect Gembrook parks this winter
Tuesday 20 June, 2023
Parks Victoria has launched an operation targeting illegal activities in parks and reserves around Gembrook, Tonimbuk and Labertouche, including Bunyip State Park and Kurth Kiln Regional Park.
These parks are a popular day trip destination for visitors from Melbourne’s southeast suburbs, Mornington Peninsula and Latrobe Valley. The start of the seasonal road closure period often sees a spike in destructive activities, such as gate breaches and off-road driving.
Seasonal road closures are important to protect roads and tracks over the wetter months and allow for rehabilitation and other maintenance works.
Illegal activities, particularly off-road driving and illegal firewood collection, can have devastating impacts on the natural and cultural values of these parks, including damage to known cultural sites, destruction and removal of vegetation, soil degradation and erosion affecting waterways and aquatic life, removal of vital habitat trees for native animals, and damage to park visitor facilities.
This operation will see increased vehicle and trailbike mounted patrols and surveillance across Bunyip State Park and Kurth Kiln Regional Park over the next four months, particularly during the seasonal closure period. The on-the-spot fines for breaching a seasonal closure and for interfering with or damaging a gate or sign is $925 per offence.
Last year’s operation resulted in 51 infringements - 27 for off-road offences- and 30 official warnings. Some investigations are ongoing.
When planning to visit a park, visitors should be aware of activities that are permitted and where there may be restrictions. For example, Bunyip State Park has different regulations to nearby state forests.
Dogs and firewood collection are not permitted within Bunyip State Park. If you are planning on having a campfire, you need to bring your own firewood with you.
Firewood for personal use can only be collected from domestic firewood collection in the autumn and spring firewood collection seasons. For details of where, when and what firewood can be collected, visit: https://www.ffm.vic.gov.au/firewood/firewood-collection-in-your-region
Quotes attributable to Jack Dinkgreve, Area Chief Ranger, Gembrook.
“There is a real community cost to the damage being done - replacing gates, signs, padlocks and rehabilitating damaged areas takes Parks Victoria rangers away from visitor services and protecting the environment. There’s also a risk unsuspecting or inexperienced drivers will enter an area where a gate has been breached and find dangerous track conditions, leading to vehicle damage or being bogged and needing to be rescued.”
“People should get involved in groups like Four Wheel Drive Victoria, who often run volunteer events in the parks and are invaluable in helping us clear tracks after storm events, remove rubbish and dumped vehicles, and participate in animal surveys. They also have great advice about safe and legal enjoyment of 4WD activities in parks.”
“Information from the community is a key part of our intelligence and evidence gathering and we encourage community members to report any suspicious behaviour to Parks Victoria on 1319 63. But please remember your safety is most important- don’t put yourself at risk to gather information.”