Entry to all of Victoria’s national parks and metropolitan parks will be made free of charge to encourage people to get active in the great outdoors, Premier John Brumby announced today.
Opening the international Healthy Parks Healthy People Congress at the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre, Mr Brumby said the health benefits for people getting out and exploring the natural world far outweighed the benefits of collecting entry fees from parks.
“Victoria has one of the best park networks in the world and we want them to be as accessible as possible to all Victorians,” Mr Brumby said.
“From 1 July 2010 there will be no entry fee to any national park or metropolitan park in Victoria. Parks Victoria estimates that removing entry fees will increase visitor numbers by 25 per cent to 50 per cent at most sites.”
National parks that will be free are Wilsons Promontory, Mount Buffalo, Baw Baw, Mornington Peninsula, Yarra Ranges (Mount Donna Buang) and Point Nepean as well as Werribee Park, Coolart, National Rhododendron Gardens and William Ricketts Sanctuary metropolitan parks.
Mr Brumby said encouraging people to get out and about in Victoria’s parks was good for community wellbeing and good for regional economies.
“In the past decade we have established 11 national parks to protect the landscapes of the Box-Ironbark Forests, the Otways and the Cobboboonee in the South West,” Mr Brumby said.
“We have also set up comprehensive marine national park protected areas, redeveloped Queenscliff Harbour, opened up the Quarantine Station at Point Nepean National Park and set up the ex-HMAS Canberra as a popular diving site.
“In the near future the River Red Gum forests along the Murray River will be proclaimed as national parks and new urban parks in Melbourne’s growth corridors will be developed.”
Environment and Climate Change Minister Gavin Jennings said helping people gain easier access to the state’s beautiful national parks was important for our health and wellbeing.
“Tens of millions of people enjoy our parks each year so making them more accessible will mean Victoria is an even better place to live, work and raise a family,” he said.
He also said while there were overwhelming benefits to the community from encouraging more people to visit parks, there were costs to providing the necessary services and infrastructure.
“To ensure that we continue to fund parks sustainability in the future, we will conduct a review of all the revenue streams and costs associated with parks management, including tourism and recreational activities, weeds and pest control and essential infrastructure.”
Interested groups will have the opportunity to participate in this process. For information call Parks Victoria on 131 963 or go to www.parkweb.vic.gov.au
Roxane Punton (03) 9651 5799 or 0409 532 287