MUNGABAREENA – not Noreuil Park – will be the focus for Albury police this Australia Day.
Violent brawls at Noreuil Park on the public holiday in 2007 and 2008 prompted councillors and police to ban booze from celebrations at the popular river spot.
But Albury Insp John Wadsworth yesterday said that ban had encouraged people to head to Mungabareena where they could drink.
“Noreuil Park had full-day celebrations and alcohol was part of it,” Insp Wadsworth said.
“Since it’s been made alcohol-free, it is an excellent family day.
“However there’s a trend towards Mungabareena and other reserves on the Murray River where people consume way too much alcohol.”
Insp Wadsworth said a strong police presence on Saturday would stop trouble before it started.
His biggest concern was people drinking too much then jumping in the river.
“I don’t want any tragedies on the river as there has been,” he said.
“If you tell police one of your friends is missing and they were last seen in the river, that sparks a major search for us and is very resource intensive.
“Keep an eye on your mates, look what they’re up to and behave yourself.”
Police will patrol Mungabareena on foot and on trail bikes.
They will also have a strong presence on the roads and elsewhere, including Noreuil.
Insp Wadsworth made his comments yesterday at Paddy’s Albury during the launch of the Plan B campaign.
Albury Council’s road safety officer Lauren Torocsik encouraged those who found themselves drinking too much to have a backup plan to get home.
The council’s Australia Day celebration will start at Noreuil Park at 10am.
Father Chris Riley, founder and chief executive of Youth Off The Streets, will speak about what it means to be Australian.
The council will also announce the winners of the Albury awards, including citizen of the year, young citizen of the year, volunteer of the year and community group of the year.