CAMPERS at Green Hill Lake Reserve and other sites may soon need camping permits.
Ararat Rural City Council took steps towards introducing a cost-free camping permit system at Green Hill Lake Reserve and similar sites at it’s December ordinary meeting.
At the meeting, council stated that a permit system would ‘provide camping equity to all, maintain the social and recreational amenity of the location, and guide social and recreationally responsible behaviour of campers.’
Under the proposed system, campers intending to stay for more than 72 hours would need to obtain a cost free permit, which would be valid for 28 days.
Campers would then be able to apply for another permit after the 28 days expired.
Permits would be issued by the council officers, members of the Green Hill Lake Development Board, and selected customer service outlets.
Members of the public will have until February 1 to submit written submissions to the council for consideration.
Green Hill Lake Development Board treasurer and assistant secretary Morris Allgood said the proposed system was unlikely to discourage campers and may even bring new campers into the spot.
“Some of the permanent campers turn others away when they use generators all hours of the night,” he said.
“We won’t have those permanent people who stay for six months or so. When the system comes in they’ll have to get a permit after the first four days (sic) and it will be another 28 days – after that we’d like them to leave here.”
However, Mr Allgood said numbers were down this holiday season at the popular spot.
“One night we had 150, but it's gone down since then,” he said.
“It's probably around 80 now.”
Mr Allgood said that the low numbers were likely due to several factors, including the signs warning of the presence blue green algae in the lake.
“I’ve asked council to check these and see if they still need to be up but I can’t see any algae in it myself,” he said.
“But I’m not an expert.”
The other deterrent was the low water levels.
“I’m very much afraid that the lake is going to dry right out this year unless we get a decent rain,” he said.
“It’s that low that skiers can’t use it. There are still people using it for kayaking and kids mucking around in the water but as far as campers go, numbers are down and I think it’s because of the low water.”
Mr Allgood said the lake was completely dependent on rain to refill.
“The worst part of it is we lose all our fish,” he said.
“When this lake’s got good deep water, it’s called a trophy trout fish lake.
“Sometimes they grow to such enormous sizes, there’s that much feed in there for them.”
The Hodges family, from Geelong, haven’t been put off by the low water at all, although the algae signs made them wary.
“We went to the pool yesterday and we’ll go again tomorrow,” said Ms Hodges.
“I don’t mind (if the kids swim in the lake) if they don’t put their heads under.”
That was the only deterrent for the family though.
“We usually go to Barmah but we heard about this place from a family friend,” Ms Hodges said.
The family loved it.
“Were else do you get flushing toilets, a park and free camping?”
Daughter Jemma agreed.
“It won’t be our last (visit),” she said.