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Byron Shire
May 12, 2021

4WDs cut off from beaches

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How secure are our beaches for 4WD enthusiasts? Can we expect a permit system, or even total beach closure to motor vehicles in the very near future?

I recently accessed the NSW Environment website and found this notice:

Due to significant storm damage, the 4WD beach access at Black Rocks Camping Area is CLOSED. Vehicles may still drive along Ten Mile Beach north from the Shark Bay 4WD beach access, but cannot exit at Black Rocks. There are no other beach access points on Ten Mile Beach other than Shark Bay 4WD beach access. No 4WD access north of Black Rocks camping area.

But is this notice really telling the truth? Taking a flight along the beaches, I spotted two brand-new 4WD beach access tracks located between Black Rocks and Evans Head. They are in the bombing range to the north of the Black Rocks camping area and just where the F-111s used to strafe the flags and east of the weapons hut. These new 4WD access tracks are available only to RAAF and National Parks personnel. They have been constructed in a NE direction and one even has boards laid in the soft sand to ensure trafficability onto the beach. How was the construction funded? Was it with Defence or Environment money? When were they built? Why weren’t they built where public access can be maintained?

Millions of dollars of public money have been spent on upgrading the campsites and facilities in the Bundjalung National Park at Black Rocks, so what is behind the beach closure? Is there really an Aboriginal midden that is stopping it being re-opened? Is this the forerunner to closing all our beaches to 4WDs?

Visitors to the national park camp area appear to be very few and far between now the campers can’t get down onto the beach in their 4WDs. This beach access closure seems to be destroying the park’s own business interests. The Bundjalung National Park was one of the last pristine holiday destinations for people of all walks of life to enjoy a low-cost, laid-back holiday of beach fishing and camping followed by a cold one by the barbie while cooking the catch of the day over the campfire. It was Australia’s ultimate answer to posh overseas resorts and was part of the Aussie way of life.

Now, if you want to go beach fishing with the 4WD, the only public beach access point is at Woody Head near Iluka, and you have to be quick to beat the tides as there is no other way on or off the beach at Shark Bay.

Margaret Howes
Empire Vale NSW 2478

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