Anti-social behaviour at the Lake Burrumbeet campgrounds over the Australia Day long weekend has turned a number of locals away from the site.
Incidents including hooning, public drunkenness, extreme littering, and a dog attack all occurred in the space of a few days at the lake’s campgrounds.
Carly Turner was at the lake for a few minutes on Australia Day when her miniature poodle Ralph was attacked by another dog.
“I had just got out of the car and the ladies next to us said 'our friend's dog is here and it's dangerous. Don’t let your dogs near it, it will kill them',” Ms Turner said.
“I'm heading back to the car to get the leads for my dogs when this other lady’s dog comes flying forward and it came off its lead and made a b-line for Ralph.
“He he was running away from the dog, but it was was too late and it grabbed him by his back leg and smashed Ralph’s head into the ground.
Ms Turner said she thought the dog was an American staffy but claimed the owner told her it was a pitbull and she couldn’t make it release Ms Turner’s dog.
In trying to save Ralph, Ms Turner was also bitten by the other dog, sustaining two puncture wounds on her thigh.
I’m glad it bit me because I was able to get Ralph out.Carly Turner
Ralph suffered a dislocated hip and many lacerations as well as broken tendons and ligament, muscle, and nerve damage; he may still lose his leg if he cannot fully recover.
Ms Turner attempted to report the attack at the Ballarat Police Station but said the police there were not interested in helping her.
Police at Ballarat confirmed to The Courier they were not currently investigating any dog attacks.
“I called the council but they said there was nothing they can do either,” she said.
“DELWP fobbed me off as well; they took my details and said they would will it pass on to the council ranger, I have been hand-balled in circles.
“I’m angry that the owner took that dog in a public place knowing it was dangerous, it could have been a child that was attacked, it could have been their face mauled off.”
Another camper at Burrumbeet on Australia Day, who wished not to be identified, said they would not camp there again on an event weekend.
The woman and her family were planning to spend the weekend camping but dangerous behaviour and fighting ruined their trip.
“We went to bed at about 10pm and the at about about 2am a car, don’t know how fast, flew along the dirt road and then two more cars possibly chasing it.
“There were kids asleep in tents and swags everywhere and I was really worried.
She said she could hear people fighting all night and spent her night worried for her family’s safety.
“It was feral, there was a speed boat out on the water at 2am and I thought someone would get killed; I thought it was crazy,” she said.
The woman and Ms Turner were left frustrated with the lack of supervision and responsibility authorities provided at the lake.
“Maybe there needs to be some monitoring or something done, it's a shame it has to come to that,” Ms Turner said.
“You would think adults would be responsible enough to have a drink and enjoy camping without all of this.”
“I think before they provide supervision, they will just ban camping,” the other camper said.
“People need to learn to look after it and leave it as a place people can go and enjoy it.”
Who is responsible for managing the Lake Burrumbeet Campgrounds?
Following the damage and refuse left behind at Lake Burrumbeet on Australia Day, The Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP) and City of Ballarat have both distanced themselves from management responsibilities of the area.
DELWP are officially responsible for the management of Lake Burrumbeet after City of Ballarat handed over management in 2015, except in the case of the caravan park and the racecourse.
City of Ballarat Director of Infrastructure and Environment Terry Demeo said council have no plans to take back over management of the lake campgrounds despite recent events.
"Following extensive negotiations with the Crown, Council resolved to relinquish its committee of management status over Lake Burrumbeet in 2014, and the handover to DELWP was completed in 2015,” he said.
“At this stage, Council has no plans to seek the reversal of that decision."
While DELWP are responsible for management of the campgrounds at the lake, Forest Fire Management Victoria Midlands District Manager, Jasmine Filmer said decisions about the area are not made by DELWP alone.
“Management decisions are made in consultation with partners and key stakeholders,” she said.
“DELWP manages Lake Burrumbeet in partnership with the City of Ballarat, the Wathaurung Aboriginal Corporation, Fisheries Victoria and the Glenelg Hopkins CMA.”
Ms Filmer said enforecmet of the campground rules are enforced but it is the responsibility of campers in the area to treat each other, the provided facilities, and the land with respect.
“Appropriate use of the lake is guided by legislation and council local laws with officers from DELWP, Victoria Police, Fisheries Victoria, Game Management Authority, and City of Ballarat monitoring the lake area,” she said.
“DELWP maintains the toilet facilities, but does not provide bins so campers are expected to take their rubbish home with them.”
“DELWP’s authorised officers monitor this camp site on a regular basis.”
Lake left trashed
Rangers were left astounded by the condition of the Lake Burrumbeet campsite following Australia Day celebrations.
Rangers attended the site on Monday to find alcohol bottles and cans, food packaging, syringes and other waste strewn all over the camping ground.
A Forest Fire Management Victoria crew were tasked with cleaning up the refuse and bagged up all the rubbish before filling seven trailers with dumped trash.
FFM Victoria Midlands District Manager Jasmine Filmer said she was offended by the state the site was left in and the lack of respect shown by those who were there.
“This behaviour not only has a negative effect for fellow holiday-makers but also for those left with the job of cleaning up after an obviously wild weekend,” she said.
“It has taken an entire work day for a four-person crew to clean up the rubbish left at the site, which included general waste, bits of old carpet and syringes.”
As well as the rubbish, the facilities at the camp site were damaged with crews having to return for repairs.
“We have never seen so much rubbish left behind after a long weekend at any campsite in the Midlands District, despite our repeated efforts to encourage campers to pack up their rubbish and take it home,” Ms Filmer said.
“In addition, a Variable Message Sign located at the entry to the park showing important safety messaging for camp users leading into an extremely hot weekend, was deliberately vandalised, a serious criminal offence.
“It is an affront to our crews to have to clean up and fix up after willful and lazy revelers.
“The outcome of such disrespect is that our crew then becomes unavailable for more important forestry and fuel management activities.
“It is visually offensive, can be dangerous to humans and wildlife, and is damaging to the environment.”