Dangerous campers ‘threat to themselves’

An illegal campfire on Fraser Island which cost those involved nearly $700 each.

Arthur Gorrie

Campfires are banned indefinitely in the Cooloola Recreation Area because visitors cannot be relied on the operate one safely, according to Environment Minister Meaghan Scanlon.

Ms Scanlon was responding to a parliamentary Question on Notice from Gympie MP Tony Perrett about the current indefinite ban, which he linked to the Fraser Island bushfires.

Ms Scanlon said reducing bushfire risk (to human safety and critical animal habitat) was not the only reason for the ban, which applied throughout the Cooloola Recreation Area, except at Inskip Point.

The safety of the campers themselves, particularly small children was another significant concern.

“The Department of Environment and Science implements a number of measures to enhance visitor safety and protect and maintain the Cooloola Recreation Area’s significant natural and cultural values,” she said.

“This includes the recent introduction of zoning of the Teewah Beach campground, the introduction of automatic license plate technology and the prohibition on open campfires.

“Only cooking and heating appliances that meet the specified requirements are still permitted while camping.”

And even they may not be allowed in the event of a total fire ban.

Mr Perrett said the ban included “fires in drums, open containers and campfires” and asked when the ban would be “brought forward for consultation.”

She said the ban had been imposed “to reduce the risk of bushfires, protect critical habitat of native wildlife (and) enhance visitor safety from campfire related injuries.”

Fully enclosed gas (or manufactured fuel) cooking and heating appliances could still be used, with conditions.