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Campers, drivers fined for breaking National Park rules

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A stern warning for anyone setting up camp on the Cooloola Coast these school holidays to make sure they know the rules.

More than 30 National Park users have been slugged with fines over the past seven days for doing the wrong thing.

Not having a vehicle or camping permit topped the list of offences, with others fined for things like having a dog in a recreation area, driving on the dunes and collecting bush wood for fires.

Queensland Park and Wildlife Service rangers regularly patrol the Cooloola Recreation Area, which includes the Teewah Beach campground, to provide education and conduct compliance activities.

Senior Ranger Col Lawton said rangers also recently had to move on more than 10 visitors who had a valid vehicle access pass (VAP) but did not have a COVID-19 Restricted Access Area Authority (RAAA) for the duration of their visit.

“During their patrols, rangers found evidence that visitors had freshly cut some tree branches in the camping area to allow access for large caravans,” Mr Lawnton said.

“It is an offence in recreation areas to remove branches from trees or collect fallen branches for firewood in Queensland national parks, and people can be issued with a PIN.

“Rangers are also concentrating on driving offences and can issue PINs for offences such as unregistered vehicles, driving without a licence, not wearing seat belts and driving without due care and attention.”

32 Penalty Infringement Notices were issued in the past week for the following reasons:

Two x $133 PINs for taking dogs into a recreation area.
Two x $266 PINs for driving on dunes.
One x $133 PIN for interfering with a natural resource by collecting bush wood.
Two x $133 PIN for collecting bush wood for a fire
13 x $200 PINs for not having a vehicle access permit (VAP)
Five x $133 PINs for not having a camping permit
Five x $266 PIN for driving without due care and attention (swerving a vehicle from side to side)
One x $299 for having a passenger outside a vehicle
One x $400 failure to comply with a regulatory notice health and safety

To avoid disappointment the Department of Environment and Science (DES) is reminding all day-use visitors to make sure they have a vehicle access permit and a restricted access area (RAA) authority before heading to these popular recreation areas.

During COVID-19 restrictions, limits have been in placed on the number of people and vehicles able to visit the Bribie Island and Cooloola recreation areas.

Cooloola and Bribie’s 4WD drive beaches are restricted access areas under Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service’s approved COVID Safe Industry Plan.

A person can only enter these restricted areas when they hold both an authority to enter the restricted access area and a valid vehicle access permit.

Restricted access area authorities (RAAA) cost nothing however are required in addition to a vehicle access permit. One must be obtained to reserve your visit and avoid being turned around at the gate or risk a fine.

There is a limited number of RAAAs available with the number capped at 500 per day. RAAAs are single day-use only and visitors will need a valid RAAA for each day.

Even existing vehicle permit holders with an annual pass still require an RAA authority for the days they intend to visit these recreation areas, however permit exemption holders and those with valid camping permits are unaffected and do not need to secure an additional RAA authority.

Rangers will be continuing to patrol the beaches, ensuring all visitors have the appropriate permits.

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