[author]Story Luis Feliu Photo Sean O’Meara[/author]
Management of The Terrace caravan park in Brunswick Heads are again under fire after the collapse of one of the largest trees in the park. The tree had been surrounded by unauthorised paving work, allegedly undertaken by park residents, which encroached on Crown land foreshore.
Angry residents, fighting what they say is a foreshore takeover by the state government-run park and others in the village, say the tree could easily have killed residents in a nearby ‘flimsy’ cabin and that the pavers were laid ‘right up to the gum tree’ a few days before it collapsed into the river.
But management say the tree came down in a recent storm and they had been unaware of the paving work near the base of the tree and were now acting on it.
Ironically, the incident, according to lifelong local Sean O’Meara, came just two days after a public rally at the park against the degradation of riverfront land at the park and restriction of public access along the foreshore.
Byron mayor Jan Barham, who joined the recent rally with other councillors, said she was shocked ‘to see how much further eroded the riverbank is and how much the public have been locked out since we ran the park’.
Mr O’Meara emailed councillors soon after seeing the fallen tree and nearby the paving works, pleading that ‘surely time has come to act’.
‘Nearly all encroaching structures along the river have large trees above them and are not built to withstand a tree landing on them. Many are rusty old caravans. Obviously all these large trees on this eroding bank are in danger of collapse as well,’ he said.
NCHP Trust’s area manager Colin Woodbury said the fallen tree was removed soon after and that the residents responsible for the unauthorised paving had been ‘spoken to’ about the works, but it was ‘a matter between them and management’.
Mr Woodbury claimed the paving was ‘temporary’.
When pressed repeatedly on whether the paving near the foreshore would be removed, Mr Woodbury reiterated that it would be ‘rectified according to the guidelines in the park’s plan of management’.
Mr O’Meara said the paving was ‘obviously the last straw for the gum and it was time to bow out. The pile of tiles and blue metal [for the paving] sat just beside the road for two weeks and I saw it immediately. NCHP’s staff walk past this spot many times each day. No attempt had been made to hide this proposed construction,’ he said.