Fears fire laws will force van park to close

THE town that moved in 1956 to make way for the building of the Hume Dam, could be left high and dry with one of its most important tourism assets threatened with closure.

Caretakers at the Tallangatta Caravan Park are not taking bookings beyond June 30 while the site’s fire safety requirements are reviewed. 

Goulburn-Murray Water, which controls the park, says it is looking at how the site can meet Victorian government fire safety regulations. 

While regular holidaymakers were organising a crisis meeting, Ciccone’s IGA owner Vince Ciccone said closure of the park would be “disastrous” for his business and the town.

“Food outlets, pubs, bakeries, all those types of places rely on the park,” he said.

“If it closed it would affect the whole town.” 

Such is the angst among Tallangatta residents and business owners that Towong Shire mayor Mary Fraser has attended a Rotary club meeting to allay fears.

Cr Fraser said she hadn’t spoken to Goulburn-Murray directly but she had heard rumours, including one that the park’s permanent residents have security only until October.

“I personally haven’t been notified that the park is closing,” she said.

She said the council would do everything it could to keep the park going, including buying it back off the Murray-Darling Basin Authority.

Cr Fraser said the council would try to do a business plan on the park if there was sufficient funding from the state government.

“(The council) is in discussion with Goulburn-Murray Water about (the park’s) future.

“The sympathies of the council and the desire of the community are to make sure we keep it going because it’s a great thing for Tallangatta.

“It has been a very good thing so I can’t see why that would change if it’s well managed.”

Goulburn-Murray general manager for catchment services Graeme Hannan hopes the park can begin accepting bookings again soon.

But he said because the park was quite old, it was likely to need an extensive upgrade.

Neither Mr Hannan or Towong Council’s acting chief executive officer, Dave Barry, could say how much the upgrade was likely to cost.

The work is likely to include widening the roads for emergency vehicles as well as fire extinguishers, fire blankets, smoke alarms and hose reels.

Any new leaseholder for the caravan park will be required to pay for the upgrade, a situation that has added further doubt to the park’s future.

Mr Barry said the council would have a better idea of the park’s future next month.

“In two or three weeks we expect to know whether the park will be able to start taking bookings again,” he said.

“By that time a ball park cost will be nearer.

“The council is looking at all its options whether that’s maintaining the status quo, getting a new leaseholder or even the council taking over.”