Mel Nixon, Lennox Head
I have many reasons that I want the eastern road at Lake Ainsworth to be kept open, some of which are entirely personal, some are in support of my family and friends, and some are for the enjoyment and more importantly, safety, of all users of the Lake, and the adjacent surf club and caravan park.
The main issues that make keeping the road open are:
For most of the year I go to the Lake Ainsworth every day after work for a swim. I usually park in the same spot, and see the same people enjoying the lake as a part of their daily life, as I do.
I recognise that most people who are there nearly every day as I am, like to park and place their towel or chair in the same spot all along the eastern side of the lake.
Some of us are there just for a quick dip after work, others, including myself use the lake for their daily exercise and relaxation. It can be a very social place, and there are often groups or families set up for the day, with their shade covers, eskis, chairs, tables, water toys, kayaks, large floaties, paddle boards and the like.
I often observe parents with their children and all the gear that comes with taking children for a day or even a couple of hours on the water. Also often there is just the mother, or just the father with the children, and they have to manage the buckets and boards, nappy bags and snack bags on their own.
I have recently seen a young mother with a toddler and a crawler enjoying the lake with all their associated small-child paraphernalia, and then watched her strap the kids in to the car parked right where they had been paddling, and after 4 or 5 trips she managed to pack up all the toys and floaties, towels and bags back in to the car whilst keeping an eye on the children who were no more than 2 metres away.
This would not be possible, nor would it be possible for any of the families or groups to enjoy their picnics if they had to park at the car parks near the caravan park or surf club.
My elderly parents also have their lunch most days at the far end of the lake, with my 80+ year old father carrying the chairs and helping my mother walk the couple of metres from the car to the shade of the trees next to the lake.
Closure of the eastern lake road will stop this, as there is no way he could carry the chairs, nor could they walk that far if they were unable to park up the end that they like to go to every day.
There is no way the families could carry all the gear required to spend a great day at the lake without parking nearby, and there is not room, nor would it be enjoyable for everyone to cram down the end closest to the carpark.
I observe that whilst it can be busy along the eastern road, especially during the holidays, there is no road rage, everyone is aware that there are children about, everyone gives way, and you are always able to find a park as someone leaves. And I am there NEARLY EVERY DAY!
The whole atmosphere is very friendly and courteous, and it is a delight to see families and groups being able to enjoy the Australian way of life with their eskis and chairs, water toys and picnics, in the spot that they choose, and without being crammed up one end which would happen if they weren’t able to drive up and choose where they park and set up their spot.
There is very limited parking near the surf club and caravan park, so what could be an enjoyable day, would end up in the nightmare of driving round and round looking for a park, which tends to dampen everyone’s moods and aggravate even the most moderate of people, and then the thought of having to lug all the gear, often requiring more than one trip would vastly reduce the enjoyment of the day, or turn people off entirely.
Any overflow of cars (if they couldn’t park up the eastern road as they do now), would end up taking the local residents’ limited car spaces, causing a whole other set of problems.
Having increased traffic going past the caravan park would be sure to create a very dangerous environment, as children, often unattended and in holiday mode, the distracted, and the elderly regularly and often with little regard cross the road between the caravan park. This would become a quite dangerous area as more people try to park, reverse, and juggle minimal parking spots and increased traffic.
The local dog owners (including myself) who regularly park up near the top end are totally respectful of the lake environment, and utilise the facilities – whether it be the toilets, the dog water bowls, the council-supplied waste bags with consideration. It is a very happy bunch, of both dogs and owners, where both can enjoy a beautiful environment, a great run on the beach, and a social time all round.
I also appreciate that the police can and regularly do drive up the eastern road, making sure that people are behaving and generally keeping an eye on things. This would not be possible if the road was closed. By having people driving and parking all along the eastern side of the road there is also the benefit of everything being out in the open, so there is little opportunity for anti-social or predatorial behaviour to occur.
I really hope that council can see what Lake Ainsworth users really want – and that is to enjoy the lake as it is, with the freedom of being able to spend time where they choose, with the facilities that assist the area to keep safe, clean and sanitary. Anyone needs only to drive up on any day and see how much the lake is appreciated, and how it is so functional and accommodating in its present state. I believe that Lake Ainsworth is a magical place, much loved and much respected, and should be preserved in its present form with the eastern road kept open so all who really appreciate it can continue to enjoy it and also continue with a very positive and unique way of life.