Council carparks at Broken Head look set to be closed for much of the summer owing to the risk of fires being started by tourists and illegal campers in the bushy area.
As part of a raft of measures introduced to address issues in Broken Head, councillors voted last Thursday to close its carparks whenever the state government elects to close National Parks in the region.
National Parks across the Northern Rivers have been closed for much of the past month owing to fire risk, and there are few signs they will be reopened any time soon.
Council will also install variable message signs at the entrance to Seven Mile Beach Road to notify visitors of the carpark closures, as well as large, permanent no parking signs along the road, and to restrict parking on the rest to 8pm–5am.
‘It is a very, very dangerous and difficult situation down there,’ one local woman, who wished to remain anonymous, told councillors during the public access session at last week’s meeting.
‘The whole thing is under very serious threat from bushfire’.
‘We’re reliant on rangers to move people along, but there just aren’t enough of them to do so.’
The meeting heard that the immediate bushfire risk posed by tourists was just one of the issues affecting residents living in the vicinity of Seven Mile Beach Rd.
Others include: speeding and dust, illegal parking, illegal camping and other anti-social behaviours like littering and defecating in and around the reserve.
Council has tried, for a number of years, to address the issues through compliance blitzes that have resulted in scores of fines.
However, not only do the behaviours continue after the blitz has finished, but there appears to have been an increase in reported incidents over the past two years.
This has been attributed to tourism posts on social media and other online platforms recommending this area as an unspoilt tourist destination.
One option put forward by residents, councillors and council staff to address the issues, is for the National parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) to take over the management of Seven Mile Beach Rd.
Were this to happen, NPWS would almost certainly install a boom gate at the entrance to the road, allowing it to strictly control who can access the park and when they can do so.
Last week’s Council meeting heard that mayor Simon Richardson, and general manager Mark Arnold, had recently met with the NSW Environment Minister, Matt Kean to discuss this option.
‘The minister was very supportive of the idea,’ Cr Richardson told the meeting.
As yet, there has been no official confirmation that NWPS will take over management of the road.