ANNABETH BATEMAN and SASHA COSTANZO
May 30, 2014
National parks will have free entry over the Western Australia Day long weekend.
The usual $12 per car entry fee is being waived to promote the state government’s Parks for People funding of $21.05 million to improve park services.
Yanchep National Park visitor service officer Inga Price who has lived in Yanchep for 40 years and worked at the park for 20 years said the park used to have more visitors.
“We’re hoping people get back to nature and realise there’s more to life then cruising down the freeway in a Roller,” Ms Price said.
Yanchep Park’s marketing officer Jennifer Green said this was the first full free weekend in the park’s history.
“It’s great for awareness to get people to come back to the parks again,” Ms Green said.
She said the park received about 280,000 visitors last year and was expecting about 4000 visitors this long weekend.
Department of Parks and Wildlife spokesman Steve Crawford from WA Parks and Recreation said he hoped free entry would give Western Australians the opportunity to visit a national park over the WA Day long weekend.
“Free entry has occurred in the past on a park-by-park basis but this will be the first time it’s across all WA national parks,” Mr Crawford said.
Mexican tourist Jaime Roeland was one of four tourists travelling together around WA who planned to spend the weekend visiting several national parks and were glad to hear of the free entry.
“We have a caravan and we’re stopping at parks to check out the koalas and 50-metre [high] trees,” Mr Roeland said.
Ms Green said it was not the park’s peak season so the free entry was well timed.
Yanchep local Debbie Van Trigt visits the park every weekend with her two young sons to enjoy ice cream and see the koalas.
“This is our weekly hang out spot,” Ms Van Trigt said.
“I think there were more visitors a few years ago when there was more water in the lake.”
Ms Price echoed this statement and emphasised the importance of conservation for all national parks.
“We all need to do our little bit at home to support conservation,” she said.
Many national parks including Yanchep run environment education sessions for school children to promote environmental awareness.
Ms Price hoped she could greet many old and new faces during the long weekend.
“We live in such a fast lane world [that] people have forgotten how important it is for a tree to grow,” she said.
“If we don’t have trees we don’t breathe.”