Camping in Barrm Birrm

Most of Barrm Birrm is owned by individuals. What owners can do with their property has always been restricted to camping - no permanent structures have been allowed.

Camping seems like a good thing to do in this bushland, and a harmless activity, until you see the impact it can have.

Camping in Barrm Birrm

Caravaning, Grand Final weekend, September 2022

The owner of this lot had previously cleared a caravan site in a damp hollow of the hillside. With the winter rains, and cleared of its native grasses, it turned to sludge. Now he has picked a higher and drier location, on ground that had been used by locals to dump garden waste. It was already cleared, so camping here doesn't mean more damage. And he was right beside a track, so he didn't need to make a new track.

But in other places, where owners or blow-ins have camped, the damage is immediate, extensive and will take decades to return to the original grasslands. If 50 owners decided to camp on their land next weekend, and the weekend after, the destruction would be terrible.

Camping is an owner's legal right, but the law has not considered the need of this land as living bushland.

Public acquisition and creation of a protected public reserve is the only long-term solution, but in the meantime, how do we accept the rights of owners and also reduce the damage from camping?

Riddells Creek Landcare encourages owners who want to camp on their lot to do two things:

- if possible, camp on areas that are already cleared, beside an existing track;
- where they camp in untouched bush, walk their gear in.

There's no need to drive everything in, and no need to camp right beside your 4WD.

Camping in Barrm Birrm

A fresh campsite after three visits in 2017-18, by young men from Sunbury who 'wanted to get out in the bush.' They didn't know it was private property. They didn't see the damage they did.

Camping in Barrm Birrm

The track to that camping site, four years later in 2022, after no further visits. Leaf litter coves the surface, slowing the movement of water and slowly encouraging the grasses back. It will take years more for nature to rebuild the open meadow of grasses that attracted those young men to camp there.