It was with great sadness and disappointment that I read in the Moorabool News of 2 July 2019, that the Wombat State Forest is imminently likely to become a National Park following a “proposal” from the Victorian Environmental Assessment Council (VEAC).
I have been a Ballan resident for 30-years and in that time have regularly used the Wombat for my chosen recreational pursuits. These include bush walking, fishing, camping and trail bike riding.
There seemed to be little advertising or consultation with the general public on this issue. I do wonder how many of the local sporting groups were formally notified or did they find out about the “proposal” the same way I did, via an “against petition” on a bar at a local pub.
I am not opposed to National Parks, on the contrary, I protested against the Gordon/Franklin River damming, a true wilderness saved. In my limited experience many less prominent National Parks lack the proper staffing, funding and infrastructure to make them a truly sustainable or cost-effective option to the tax payer hence, the poor state they are in when considering road and track maintenance, up keep to toilets, information boards, bins, BBQs and camping facilities to name the obvious. Feeble is a word that springs to mind. Will the Wombat become one of these?
A few of my concerns are;
– Money better spent. As climate change is a factor for the formation of the NPs then allocate the time, money and resources to fix climate change. The cost of re-branding and the ongoing up-keep of the proposed NPs will sadly, only delay the inevitable to the concerns highlighted by the VEAC report.
– The viability of local business. Greendale, Blackwood and Trentham Hotels, fuel and food outlets will see a reduction in income due to a drop in clientele from the alienation of four wheel drivers, horse riders, firewood collectors, hunters and weekend campers.
– The approved “proposal” would now push myself and many visitors to the Whipstick Scrub. Oh great, a much smaller parcel of land and now inundated with scores of public users. How long before Llandeillo Lane residents complain of increased traffic, noise, road degradation and public safety before local and state government declares Whipstick out of bounds?
Why does Wombat have to become a National Park? Compromise. Leave the classification as a State Forest. Reconsider or reinstate the size/number of areas to become restricted and clearly mark conservation zones for head waters and rare and threatened species rather than take a blanket approach of banning. This will still allow all users to pursue recreational activities as well as the continuation of firewood collection, hunting, prospecting, mining and quarrying.
Something I will never understand about Government is the fact they love revenue, be it in the form of licences, registrations, permit fees, fines, etc. They rave on about how much money recreational and sporting groups/clubs/individuals put back into the economy BUT the places we get to use our equipment with relative freedom becomes smaller and smaller as the years roll by and at what “bang for buck” to the end user. I wonder where my son’s son will go?