Clear Path For Riverbank Fishing and Camping

VRFish is backing the Victorian Government’s commitment to guarantee access to fishing and camping on Crown land that have grazing licences and river frontage.

Victorian recreational fishers are excited at the prospect of fishing and camping along more of our rivers and streams and are eagerly awaiting the passing of the Parks and Crown Land Legislation Amendment Bill 2019 by the Legislative Council.

Regaining community access to our rivers and streams will be a gamechanger for inland fishing across Victoria, from targeting our much-loved brown and rainbow trout to our iconic Murray cod.

Fishers have been missing out on the enjoyment of fishing along hundreds of kilometres of our rivers because of a systemic misunderstanding of public access requirements.

Confusion surrounding mandated and existing public access to these frontages for recreational purposes is set to be resolved through a Government initiative led by the Victorian Fisheries Authority.

Some landholders have incorrectly assumed these tracts of land is theirs and prevented public access by erecting fences, installing no access signs and padlocks.

Recreational fishers want diverse experiences that immerse them in nature to relax and unwind.

We can’t think of a better setting for Victorian families than alongside our amazing rivers and streams with a future opportunity of camping and cooking a fresh meal on a campfire.

The Parks and Crown Land Legislation Amendment Bill 2019 seeks to amend the Land Act 1958 to allow camping and campfires on licensed Crown Water Frontages – the small strip of public land either side of Victoria’s rivers and major streams.

Fishers can raise their concerns about access to our rivers to VRFish via [email protected].

Finding your nearest access points

Did you know you can find your nearest access points to rivers, stream and lakes using MapShare Vic? This online mapping tool can help identify licensed and unreserved Crown land that we recfishers can legally access.

Remember, the public can legally access licenced and unreserved Crown land, however leased Crown land does not provide public access.

More about the Victorian Government Commitments

As part of the 2018 ‘Fishing and Boating’ election commitments, the Victorian Government committed to ‘guarantee access to fishing and camping on Crown land that has grazing licences and river frontage.’ Section 401A of the Land Act 1958 enables a person to enter and remain for recreational purposes on a water frontage which has been licensed under provisions of that Act but prohibits a person from camping on the licensed land. To enable camping on licensed water frontages, the Land Act 1958 is being amended to remove the prohibition on camping on licensed Crown water frontage. This legislation recently passed through the lower house of Parliament, and the VFA are working in partnership with the Department of Environment, Land, Water & Planning (DELWP) to develop suitable regulations to support camping at these locations. 

It is expected that the legislation and regulations relating to camping will be in place by December 2020 (subject to covid-19) and will include reference to camping distance from the water, campfires, etc. Please note that are currently regulations in place that govern recreational activities on crown land reserves, including environmental protections, etc.

The VFA will shortly be writing to stakeholders, such as VRFish, to outline the opportunities to provide feedback on the draft regulations that will support the legislation. In the interim, the VFA has identified several high value recreational fishing sites with access issues to rectify. Access to Crown water frontage for various recreational users (anglers, bird watchers, hikers, etc) has been limited by poor provision of infrastructure and information regarding access points. Access has also been limited by abutting landholders by padlocking gates and erecting misleading signage indicating that the land is private property. For many of these identified sites, the issue is perception of private ownership by the licensee or adjoining private landholder. 

The VFA will be installing access gates and signage at the entry points to Crown Land as part of the project, and in time, will create a map on the VFA’s recreational fishing guide app that specifies each access point. In addition, we will install directional road signs, directing the recreational user from the main road to the access point that we will create. This election commitment is in addition to the Government’s Target One Million program to increase participation in recreational fishing in Victoria by stocking more rivers/lakes and constructing new boat ramps, fishing platforms, fish cleaning tables, car parking at fishing locations, etc across Victoria. 


1. Why is the Bill removing the prohibition on camping on licensed river frontages?

As part of the 2018 ‘Fishing and Boating’ election commitments, the Andrews Labor Government committed to ‘guarantee access to fishing and camping on Crown land that has grazing licences and river frontage’ to further encourage families and friends to spend time together in the outdoors.

It is important to understand that many other forms of recreation are permitted on licensed river frontages, such as picnicking, fishing and hiking, however, camping is currently prohibited on these areas.

The removal of the prohibition on camping on licensed river frontages recognises that this activity has been occurring on many of these frontages for many years and allows for it to be better managed through regulations.

This also regularises the situation between licensed river frontages and unlicensed river frontages, State Forests and National Parks – where camping is currently prohibited. 

2.      What will the Bill do?

The Bill amends the Land Act by removing the prohibition on camping on licensed river frontages, providing consistency with State Forests, National Parks and unlicensed Crown land, where camping is permitted.

The Bill also ensures that the policy can be implemented successfully in the following ways:

  • The Bill inserts appropriate regulation-making powers to assist in managing the recreational activity and protecting the environment, in line with how State Forests, National Parks and unlicensed Crown land is currently managed.
  • The Bill ensures that various offences in the Forests Act relating to campfires in State forest apply to licensed river frontages.

3.      How will the policy be implemented?

Implementing the policy will be guided by a comprehensive implementation plan and will involve consultation with key stakeholders, including the Victorian Farmers Federation, Environment Victoria and recreational anglers, as well as Traditional Owners and catchment management authorities.

Implementing the policy will also be supported by:

  • enforcement of the regulations on river frontages in the same manner as State Forests and National Parks. 
  • the development of educational materials to encourage safe and appropriate camping behaviour and to manage potential risks to the environment, including water quality in the same manner as State Forests and National Parks.

4.      Will the legislative change increase camping on river frontages?

The Victorian Government is committed to encouraging families and friends to spend time together in the outdoors, and the intention of this Bill is to make it easier for families to go camping on Crown Land.

Providing greater opportunities for camping will enable Victorians to spend more time in the great outdoors, leading to increases in enjoyment and wellbeing.

Removing the legislative prohibition on camping on river frontages will, in some areas, regularise camping activity that has taken place over many years. 

In some areas, it may also encourage more camping or may result in the existing camping activity becoming more dispersed.

In addition to removing the legislative prohibition on camping on licensed water frontages, the Victorian Fishing Authority will work to identify sites where access to rivers can be improved.

5.      Where are the main areas where camping is expected to occur as a result of the policy?

It is expected that the legislative change will support camping right across the State, with improved public access to public land.

6.      How will farm biosecurity issues be managed?

Implementing the policy will involve consultation with key stakeholders, including the Victorian Farmers Federation. This will ensure that key risks can be managed.

However, it should be noted that:

  • the public is already able to lawfully access licensed river frontages for recreation, just not camping; and
  • The public currently camp in State Forests in harmony with famers who have grazing licences. 

Educational materials prepared to support the implementation of the changes will include information about managing the risks of introducing pest animals or invasive plant species, in line with State Forests.

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