The Light to Light walk is likely to still get hut accommodation, but it might not be as sinister as first planned.
Remember a few years ago when the NSW Government wanted your feedback on their proposal to build huts along the Light to Light walk down on the Sapphire Coast?
Here’s a quick rundown of what’s changed, and what hasn’t.
Despite receiving a bunch of feedback criticising the proposal for hut accommodation along the trail for a number of environmental and social reasons, NPWS is pushing ahead with the plan to build huts and other facilities to accomodate up to 36 people.
‘NPWS is confident there will be additional demand from hut-to-hut walkers and anticipates that providing huts will complement existing accommodation options. The upgraded walk is expected to increase visitation and drive additional demand for all forms of accommodation.’
Originally Mowarry Point and Hegartys Bay were the selected spots for the huts, but because these areas are more remote, there were concerns that more vegetation would need to be cleared, more wildlife would be displaced, and walk-in campers would lose a sense of remoteness. Which is a fair point considering the current hut designs look like a small village.
So the new plan is, if the Hegartys Bay site doesn’t fit the bill, the huts will be built at Bittangabee Bay instead, where there’s already vehicle access.
One of the major concerns people had about the proposal is the privatisation of the accommodation in the national park, which had the potential to not only price people out of the huts, but more or less sell off part of public land to a private, commercial company. That ain’t good.
Read more: Are We Privatising Our National Parks?
Thankfully, the public’s concerns have been taken into account on this point and all accommodation in the park will managed by the National Parks and Wildlife Service. We’ll count that one as a win!
‘NPWS recognises the concerns expressed with commercial managers operating on-park accommodation and has removed references to commercial operators managing or leasing accommodation and clarified that NPWS will manage all accommodation.’
There’ll still be commercial tour operators working along the trail on guided hikes, and to supply cleaning and maintenance services as well.
But you’ll have peace of mind knowing that the money made from the hut accommodation will go straight back into national parks’ pocket, and not to a big corporate.
Walking Track Reconstruction
The original plan proposed rerouting the current track in several places so it follows the coast more and takes advantage of the Sapphire Coast views.
There was a bit of pushback on this from the public, with people saying some of the best parts of the hike are through the forest and hiking more along clifftops means more exposure for hikers.
Despite this, NPWS plans to still go ahead with the proposed realigning.
‘NPWS is confident that, following extensive research and investigation by internal experts and external advisors, including landscape architects and track designers, the proposed alignment is well balanced to provide a better visitor experience and protect the environment.’
The new track plans to make environmental impacts minimal and will include raised boardwalk in some sections where the surrounding environment is particularly sensitive.
Public submissions on the amended plan are currently open until October 15th 2021, so if you want to have your voice heard on this issue, now’s the time to do it.
Feature photo thanks to @a.l.i.c.e.l.i.z.a.b.e.t.h