FRENCH couple Mareie Dieudonne and Jamie Albert headed to the Bass Valley Camping Ground after reading rave reviews on Wikicamps, little knowing they would be the last official overnight visitors at the site.
South Gippsland Shire Council permanently closed the picturesque campground near Loch on Thursday.
A council statement said the failure of the septic system meant the campground had been restricted to fully self-contained RV vehicles only.
“Unfortunately, the area has continued to be used by campers and vehicles without contained bathroom facilities,” the statement said.
“This has resulted in human waste being incorrectly disposed of and the need to close the campground in the interest of health and public safety.”
Mareie and Jamie said they were attracted by the eucalyptus trees and hoped to spot koalas during their overnight stay.
Council’s building and recreation assets coordinator, Kate Reiske said the closure was unfortunate but necessary.
“Even before the failure of the septic system, we have experienced problems with the Bass Valley Camping Ground facilities,” Ms Reiske said.
“Sadly, the toilet block has been vandalised on a regular basis resulting in smashed toilet bowls, damaged walls and graffiti. We have also had rubbish left behind, trees chopped for firewood and have needed to deliver unusually high amounts of water to the site at significant expense.”
She said council had received complaints about human waste and toilet paper on
neighbouring properties and in the road reserve, leading to an inspection by an Environmental Health Officer who issued a prohibition notice to close the campground.
The Bass Valley Camping Ground is situated on Crown land reserve with council as the committee of management.
The council statement said “it has been determined that the toilets will not be able to be replaced. This effectively means that camping at Bass Valley Camping Ground will not be reinstated”.
The decision drew criticism on Facebook with Nick Barnard said it was a rushed and irresponsible decision made without community consultation.
Raff Kountmann said the toilet block should just be fixed but council responded the campground was located near the river and “it has been determined that the toilets will not be able to be replaced”.
Responding to other comments about keeping the ground open for self-contained campers only, council said it had received complaints about human waste and toilet paper onsite, in neighbouring properties and in the road reserve.
Last October, council’s property team said in notes explaining the proposed new bylaw clause that the recently completed septic system and effluent field at the Franklin River Reserve was at risk of failure or destruction which could cost tens of thousands of dollars.
The proposed new clause in the bylaws was that a person must not “dump or discharge into any toilet pan within shire facilities, any substance or material likely to cause damage or affection functioning of wastewater infrastructure (e.g. motor home sewage cassettes)”.
Bass Valley Campground closed over toilet failure