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Winter damage bill soars at Bunyip State Park

Wednesday 12 September, 2012

Forced entry and vandalism in Bunyip State Park has cost almost $50,000 over the four month seasonal closure period, and restricted access to emergency management vehicles.

Greg Young, Ranger in Charge at Gembrook said trespassers in high-powered vehicles, coupled with large diameter tyres designed with aggressive treads are causing most of the damage.

“Parks Victoria and Department of Sustainability and Environment implement track closures around the state to ensure driver safety, as well as protect park roads from damage during the winter season,” said Mr Young. “We close the gates in June as winter sets in. Unfortunately, this closure has also marked a spike in illegal entry and vandalism at both Bunyip State Park and nearby Kurth Kiln Regional Park.”

“Signage and fencing at entrances to closed tracks is a deterrent but some drivers bulldoze through treed areas or bust through gates to get in. Our gates are reinforced but they are often damaged when the gate is rammed.”

Mr Young said the cost of replacing or repairing gates, infrastructure, materials and footings, coupled with plant and equipment and man hours adds up.

“Keeping tracks in reasonable condition takes a lot of hard work, so it’s frustrating that illegal entry during the off season renders trails unusable. Our concern is that is also renders tracks unusable to emergency management vehicles prior to the summer fire season.”

Mr Young said despite behaviour from a minority of park users, a great deal of work was provided by volunteers, many from Four Wheel Drive Victoria and its affiliated clubs.

“We’ve had great support from these groups and individuals and it’s a credit to them that at every working bee they’re here, getting stuck in.”

Sergeant Ray de Reus, Officer in Charge of Bunyip Police Station said that Victoria Police continues to support Parks Victoria staff through regular patrols of the park: “Victoria Police are working with Parks Victoria Rangers who can deliver on-the-spot fines under the Land Conservation (Vehicle Control) Act and other related Acts.”

Park visitors who witness any illegal activity are asked to contact Victoria Police or Parks Victoria.

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