We hoist ourselves over the locked gate that reads "private property", carefully avoiding the electric fence.
We're not trespassing, we're entering the public side of the fence.
The land on either side of this gate looks the same - a steep pastured slope with stock trails grooved into its side. Angus cattle graze around us. It's rocky underfoot, to our right gum trees reach out over the river like giant clawed hands.
Fellow journalist Annabelle Cleeland and I are being shown around a farm near Seymour in central Victoria.
Hopping the fence, we left Bryan Meredith's farm and entered Crown river frontage that he holds a grazing licence for. The licence allows him to run livestock on this chunk of public land on the Goulburn River that adjoins his property.
Annabelle and I were in Seymour reporting for the latest episode of the Voice of Real Australia podcast. We were looking into the collision of camping and grazing on public land that's dividing fishers and farmers all around Victoria.
After lobbying from recreational fishers, the Victorian government promised to provide more campsites along the state's rivers.
In November 2020, the state government amended the Land Act 1958 to allow camping on more than 8000 Crown land river frontages that are licensed to landholders - that's 18,000 kilometres of riverbank. An assessment process is ongoing and so far 23 sites have been approved.
But this expansion of public access quickly became contentious because these sites are licensed to farmers for grazing livestock. And farmers, like Bryan, are concerned about how this will affect their homes and businesses.
Who will clean up the mess? Who is blamed if someone gets hurt? What impact will it have on biosecurity?
Bryan is contesting the access here saying the site is unsuitable for camping. The rocky hillside isn't ideal for pitching a tent and the ground is too hard to dig a toilet hole. And there isn't really safe access to the water - the bank is over 1.5 metres high.
The ANZAC long weekend has just gone and Bryan shows us the mess left by campers further along the river. Trees have been hacked at, one's been chopped clean in half, rubbish has been thrown down a wombat hole.
This isn't on the grazing licensed site though, Bryan reckons these campers saw the sign forbidding campfires and dogs and stayed out. You see these new campsites come with a lot of regulations, it's something the farmers fought for. But, even so, this is too close for comfort for Bryan.
But fishers we spoke to say it's public land and everyone should be able to enjoy it. That all campers can't be blamed for the actions of a few bad eggs.
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