6 December 2023

QPWS fines Cape York campers after illegal fire in national park

| Matt Nicholls
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These swags were located in known croc territory. Picture: QPWS

Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service (QPWS) is putting campers on notice these school holidays for irresponsible fire behaviour – putting themselves and the environment at risk.

Rangers have fined a group of campers in Rinyirru (Lakefield) National Park for allegedly illegally lighting a campfire during a total fire ban, despite clear signage in the area warning against this dangerous activity.

QPWS personnel spotted the illegal fire while inspecting a campsite at Hann Crossing last month.

On top of the brazen fire risk, the campsite had allegedly been set up right next to the Kennedy River; well-known crocodile habitat.

The campsite had allegedly been erected past a crocodile warning sign which advised to not camp in the area.

Following interviews with rangers, four campers were issued with on-the-spot fines for lighting the unlawful fire ($774) and camping in immediate proximity to where crocodiles may readily attack ($309).

They have each been ordered to pay a total of $1083 and were issued warning notices for camping without a permit.

Investigations are continuing into two other campers.

Ranger Larry Leedie said irresponsible behaviour posed a serious risk for individuals, rangers and responders.

QPWS said starting fires during total fire bans created a safety problem.

“Across the state, Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service rangers, along with fire authorities and local landowners have been fighting unprecedented bushfires; some of which were the result of negligent activity by individuals or deliberate arson,” he said.

“Rangers have zero tolerance for such brazen behaviour and will continue to focus on any activity that adversely affects those ongoing efforts.

“Campers should expect to see us in all protected areas carrying out compliance patrols and handing down fines or court notices where needed.

“Furthermore, park visitor safety is a key priority. We ask everyone to always be Crocwise in Croc Country and obey all warning signs and directions from rangers.”

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