Three new national parks as well as new conservation parks, nature reserves and bushland reserves in Central West Victoria will protect our environment and let locals and visitors enjoy more of our great outdoors.

These changes, announced by the Victorian Government, respond to the Victorian Environmental Assessment Council’s (VEACs) 2-year Central West Investigation of our public land estate.

New and expanded regional parks, located close to towns, mean more places to ride your horse, walk the dog and go recreational prospecting.

Through the $105.6 million Victoria’s Great Outdoors program, the Victorian Government will upgrade public facilities throughout the region, including campgrounds, 4WD tracks and walking trails.

With more to do and more places to explore, Central West Victoria is an attractive destination for day-trippers and holiday-makers alike.

The response to the VEAC report creates more than 75,000 hectares of new national parks, conservation parks, regional parks, nature reserves and bushland reserves in the region by 2030.

You can read the Victorian government response to VEACs Central West Investigation (PDF, 1.2 MB)

See the Central West Investigation area (PDF, 2.5 MB)

VEAC investigated 3 blocks within the central west region

  • the Mount Cole block, near Avoca and Beaufort
  • the Wombat-Macedon block, near Daylesford and Trentham
  • the Wellsford block, near Bendigo.

See details of the new and expanded regional parks in each block:

Changes include creating:

  • the Pyrenees National Park (15,126 hectares, including 4,443 hectares of the existing nature reserve)
  • the Pyrenees Regional Park (3,099 hectares)
  • the Mount Buangor National Park (5,282 hectares including 2,498 hectares of existing State Park), and
  • the Ben Nevis Nature Reserve (1,088 hectares).

We’re also:

  • retaining areas of the Pyrenees and Mount Cole State Forests (3,099 and 5,037 hectares respectively)
  • creating a 276-hectare addition to the existing Wimmera Heritage River along the upper 7-kilometre reaches of the Wimmera River.

The creation of the Pyrenees and Mount Buangor national parks will be staged to allow some timber harvesting in the current state forest. An 80-metre buffer zone will be created along the Beeripmo walk, a 21-kilometre walk in the Mount Cole area, to minimise the impact of timber harvesting activities on the walk experience.

See the Mount Cole-Pyrenees block (PDF, 4.0 MB)

Changes include creating:

  • the Wombat-Lerderderg National Park (44,698 hectares including 20,474 hectares of existing state park)
  • the Hepburn Conservation Park (2,714 hectares) and Cobaw Conservation Park (2,532 hectares)
  • a suite of new and expanded regional parks (19,028 hectares overall).

The Wombat-Lerderderg National Park provides habitat for many threatened species, including the Greater Glider, and will be a tourism drawcard.

New regional parks and additions to those parks are located close to regional towns and allow for a range of recreation activities including horse-riding, dog-walking and recreational prospecting.

See the Wombat-Macedon block (PDF, 2.3 MB)

We’re expanding the Bendigo Regional Park by 7,101 hectares. This will:

  • support a broad range of recreational activities
  • provide another area for domestic firewood collection (from designated sites) until June 2029.

All recreational uses except recreational hunting are permitted in this area.

See the Wellsford block (PDF, 1.2 MB)

What can I do in these new parks?

Permitted activities

A guide to the activities that are allowed in different types of parks, reserves and state forests in the Central West Investigation area.

Activity

National park, conservation park

Nature reserve

Bushland reserve

Regional park

Historic reserve

State forest

Bushwalking, nature observation and picnicking

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Camping

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

No

Yes

Car touring, including 4WDriving

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Trail bike riding

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Mountain biking
and cycling

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Horse riding on roads

Yes, as specified by land manager

No

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Dogs

No, except as specified by land manager

No

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Recreational hunting

No, with some exceptions

No

No

No

No

Yes

Recreational prospecting

No

No

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Permitted uses

Resource uses permitted in each public land use category in a Central West Investigation area

Activity

National park, conservation park

Nature reserve

Bushland reserve

Regional park

Historic reserve

State forest

Apiculture

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Grazing by domestic stock

No

No

No

No

No

Yes

Timber harvesting

No

No

No

No, with some exceptions until 2030

No

Yes

Domestic firewood collection

No

No

No

No, with some exception until 2029

No

Yes, in designated areas

Exploration and mining

No, except where a licence predates the park

Yes, subject to Crown land minister's consent

Yes, subject to Crown land minister's consent

Yes, subject to Crown land minister's consent

Yes, subject to Crown land minister's consent

Yes

Note: The permitted uses generally apply for each public land use category but there may be exceptions for specific parks and reserves in certain circumstances. These are generally determined through management planning.

Other permitted activities in the Central West Investigation areas

Hunting

Mount Cole block – hunting can continue in the significant areas of retained state forest in this block. The current Mount Cole Game Sanctuary will be revoked to allow deer hunting in this area of state forest. Seasonal recreational deer hunting (by stalking) will be allowed in the new Pyrenees National Park in the areas where it is currently permitted.

Wombat-Macedon block – seasonal recreational deer hunting (by stalking) will be allowed in the new Wombat-Lerderderg National Park, in areas where it is currently permitted. The season will be limited to the period between May and the start of the spring school holidays.

Wellsford block – the expansion of the Bendigo Regional Park means that recreational hunting will no longer be allowed in this area.  All other recreational activities presently allowed in this area will still be permitted.

Forest-based industries

The Victorian Government is supporting the needs of forest-based industry and activities including firewood collection.

Victoria’s timber industry will gradually transition from native forest harvesting to a plantation-based industry by 2030 under the Victorian Forestry Plan. The government response aligns with the Victorian Forestry Plan and will not affect the industry’s transition.

VicForests will have continued access to some parts of the existing state forest for one-off timber harvesting before they are added to the national parks. VicForests will also have access to the new regional parks and additions to existing regional parks in the Wombat-Macedon block.

An 80-metre buffer zone will be created along the Beeripmo walk, a 21-kilometre walk in the Mount Cole area, to minimise the impact of timber harvesting activities on the walk experience.

To support the transition away from domestic firewood, the Victorian Government will research the demand for firewood collected for home use. It will also investigate alternative energy supply options that meet local community needs.

Find out more about activities in the Central West in our fact sheets

Victorian Environmental Assessment Council's role

VEAC is an independent body that conducts investigations, assessments or provides advice requested by the Victorian Government relating to the protection and ecologically sustainable management of the environment and natural resources of public land.

In 2017, the Victorian Government commissioned VEAC to evaluate the condition and status of public land in the Central West region.

The purpose of the investigation was to:

  • identify and evaluate the condition, natural and biodiversity values, cultural, social and economic values, and the current uses of public land in the specified area
  • make recommendations for the balanced use and appropriate management arrangements to conserve and enhance the natural and cultural values.

The investigation examined 3 distinct blocks of public land: The Mount Cole–Pyrenees block (near Beaufort and Avoca), the Wellsford block (near Bendigo) and the Wombat–Macedon block (near Daylesford and Trentham).

The full terms of reference for the investigation are available on Victorian Environmental Assessment Council website.

In its final report, VEAC made recommendations to ensure ongoing management of public land in the region balances the needs of different park users and conserved natural and cultural values.

Page last updated: 19/07/21