A new community action group wants your support to help stop new facilities being built in Ben Boyd National Park, New South Wales, home of the Light to Light walk.
According to the proposal this would include NPWS-managed accommodation for walkers which would be managed by a formal booking system.
NPWS intends to manage the upgraded hut-to-hut style walk experience, with on-site ‘Hut officers’ at each accommodation site, similar to the current operations at Green Cape Lightstation and a number of other NPWS properties, the draft says.
The Ben Boyd Community Action Group has grown to nearly 600 members who come from all walks of life, from locals who grew up using the park, local Aboriginal people with a cultural connection to country, people who’ve been camping there for up to 60 years, ex-rangers and local recreational users.
Rebecca Gray (56), from Melbourne, is one of the group’s founding members. ‘I became involved because my family has been camping on a yearly basis at Bittangabee Bay Camping Ground for nearly 15 years now,’ she says. ‘We use this park to get away from the city and to reconnect with nature. We don’t take electronic devices, we read, we fish, we swim. We heal and rejuvenate ourselves for the coming year. It’s our place of soul.’
‘The proposed plan is to build what can only be described as a mini-village at the currently isolated and untouched sites of Mowarry Point and Hegartys Bay, large enough to support 36 tourists at each site. Accommodation huts, a communal kitchen, shed, water tanks, toilets, solar panels, a helipad and hut officer accommodation with a work area. It’s hardly low impact.’
Other Concerns About The Proposal
Rebecca also echoes concerns of other members of the group about the lack of consultation with local Aboriginal people, the impact on endangered species of flora and fauna, and the concern that these new facilities mean the ‘everyday’ person will no longer afford to be able to enjoy the park that they’re connected to.
‘Ultimately,’ continues Rebecca, ‘there’s a widely shared objection to the spending of public funds on a project designed for the use of an elite few. And that such as large upheaval has been proposed with such minimal research and investigation.’
The ultimate aim of the group is to have the funds reallocated for the betterment of the park, including maintenance of the existing areas, plus the addition of low impact tent campsites with fire pits, toilets, and water tanks.
‘We’d also like to see an absolute commitment to Aboriginal involvement in the running of the park and the protection of sacred sites,’ says Rebecca. ‘Plus an investment by NPWS in the education of visitors to the park regarding its history, the flora and fauna, which would ideally be delivered by the local Aboriginal people. Certainly, we would like to see the existing Light to Light walk track repaired and maintained for the enjoyment of all – being rerouted only for environmental benefit where necessary.’
What can people do to help?
If you can get in quick, you can lodge a submission by August 26th opposing the changes. Find out how here. You can also join the Facebook group to keep up to date with new information, what’s going on and the group’s plans. You can also sign the group’s petition here.
Feature photo by @ozlifeoutdoors
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