An online campaign calling for Windang Beach, south of Wollongong NSW, to become accessible for 4WDing and camping, is dividing the Illawarra community.
Earlier this week, a Facebook page was started by avid 4WDers to gauge community feedback on the idea, and the page quickly picked up traction. Some of the community is in support of the idea, but many others are concerned about a clash with beach-goers and environmental issues, such as litter and disruption of shore-birds.
The idea has been dismissed by Wollongong Lord Mayor Gordon Bradbery, citing ecological and noise issues, as well as the fact that parts of the beach are either crown land or controlled by the Aboriginal Land Council.
‘Those dunes are very fragile and there’s not a lot of space between the ocean and those dunes, which actually act as a barrier when we have some big storm events.’
– Lord Mayor Gordon Bradbery
Founder of the campaign and keen 4WDer, Simon Burgess, says allowing 4WD access to the beach will boost tourism in Windang, as people will travel down from Sydney on day trips.
After heeding the concerns of the public, Burgess has changed the initial section of beach proposed, to a 4km strip in front of Port Kembla Golf Course, between Port Kembla Beach and Northern Windang Beach. There are calls for other beaches in the Illawarra and Shellharbour area to also be considered for 4WDing.
There’s no denying that driving on the sand is bloody good fun. But a lot of the fun comes from being the sole people on the sand. There are plenty of factors to consider when changing regulations of a beach, and proximity to others and the effects on the environment are crucial.
Studies show that the tyre tracks left by 4WDs on beaches reduce the amount of sand naturally transported across the beach; transportation which is essential for the replenishment of coastal dunes. Another study in south-east Queensland has shown that the population of Ghost Crabs is significantly reduced on beaches where 4WDing is permitted.
At We Are Explorers, we’re all about getting out there in whatever way we can, but doing it with respect for the people and places around us. While we understand the desire for adventure that’s inspired this campaign, until the impacts of 4WDing on Windang Beach are fully assessed and minimalised, we’ll be leaving our four wheels in the carpark.
Feature photo by Jimmy Ds
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