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Byron Shire
April 24, 2021

National Parks defends claims of insufficient resourcing for Broken Head

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Illegal campers at car park in Broken Head. Photo supplied.

Hans Lovejoy

Illegal camping and parking at Broken Head is being addressed, says NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service (NSWNPWS), yet resident Alison Drover has told Echonetdaily it’s ‘not good enough’.

Ms Drover said of illegal camping, ‘This has been a known problem for many years, including replacement signs that were discussed two years ago.

‘We are witnessing groups of people heading down to Brays, down a hidden path, and there were trees cut down to check surf. One sign was replaced last year by NPWS, yet it had no information in it regarding fires etc. This is not just the case for Broken Head; the same situation exists for Brunswick Heads with illegal camping, rubbish and areas being used as toilets’.

Echonetdaily asked NPWS if there were plans for a management plan to address illegal camping, including signage and parking compliance – ie paid parking.

A NPWS spokesperson replied, ‘NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service is addressing illegal campers and compliance matters in Broken Head Nature Reserve and in all other national parks and nature reserves in the area.

‘We undertake strategic compliance patrols and have been working with Byron Shire Council and the police in joint operations.

‘National Parks Rangers were on duty over the June long weekend, and specifically undertook compliance patrols at Broken Head Nature Reserve.

‘Entry and regulatory signs throughout Broken Head Nature Reserve were updated in 2019. NPWS is also currently working with the Arakwal joint management committees on additional signage in key visitation national parks, including Broken Head Nature Reserve, to provide appropriate cultural messaging about visitors showing respect for our parks’.

Standard response

Ms Drover said of the NPWS reply: ‘This is the standard, almost copied response, I got from [NPWS management] for the past six years. It is just not good enough. The signage has been promised for years, and now the excuse is COVID-19. Police are so busy, they don’t get out, especially down a damaged road which is about 30 minutes drive. 

‘There are no rangers on at night from Council or NPWS. We still can’t get information on rangers hours and resourcing. There is no long term vision for how the Nature Reserve will handle the numbers of visitors’.

‘People are creating their own paths into the Reserve as they illegally park along Seven Mile, and then bush bash in. The result of this is that there is impact on biodiversity and these people use it as a toilet. This also means people don’t consider the signage, ie about the unpatrolled beaches, fire and dogs etc, cliff risks’.

‘It is back to front – Council develops management plans for towns rather than safeguarding our largest drawcard, which is nature’.

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  1. Ok seriously let’s protect our national park.
    Paid parking based on time in the park with boom gate,
    Locals only annual pass.
    Heavy cost/fines overstay allocated time.
    Money raised to improve the road and services in the park.
    Roadbase erosion into the small creeks is destroying habitats pretty much permanently.

    Personally I’m devastated by the damage this road and the holiday traffic causes to this biodiversity hotspot.

    A user pays system potentially could generate enough money to save the coastal forest and all the life it nurturers.

  2. Council and NPWS produce many well meaning policies to protect the fragile habitat and wildlife here. However they should be honest with the community in admitting they are unable to enforce and police their laws to achieve compliance. At least the community will not then be deluded in thinking that Council, NPWS and Marine Parks are managing tourism and development in a sustainable manor.

  3. Hardly a surprising response from NPWS….they’re reading from Scotty’s marketing playbook: spin, deny & repeat. Ignore facts and responsibility.

    Same thing has been going on for years now at Brunswick Head NR – for a several years it appeared the problem had been bought under control. I witnessed several instances of the local Ranger politely and firmly ejecting dog walkers, campers, party groups and people with fires, sometimes she was shouted at and abused. The carparks and toilets were clean and free of rubbish. The drunken yobbos and doofs disappeared, family groups came back. The changes were obvious. Apart from being an enjoyable place to visit, the beneficiaries were the Beach Stone Curlews and Pied Oystercatchers, the rainforest and dune vegetation.
    Then it all stopped.
    Staff in uniforms are rarely seen now. Doofs, dogs, dog faeces, rubbish, beach fires, campers how did they all find out so quickly? I’ve probably seen as many bush regeneration contractors as parks uniforms in the past 2 years, but they are not they to to enforce laws. maybe the government cuts are to blame, but surely it’s a core NPWS duty to maintain and enforce regulations? And yet this week National Park says they are “consulting” about their irrational development plans for more campgrounds and carparks at Unicorn Falls in Mt Jerusalem. Why develop yet another peaceful beautiful area for people to trash because parks don’t have a presence to do compliance? If they stopped this weird blind adherence to development maybe they could do some law enforcement and actual conservation work too. Isn’t that is what parks are for?

  4. ilegal camping and its negative impacts on our reserves is widespread affecting not not only icons like Broken Head. It also affects our dunes where volunteers have worked for a generation to restore coastal rainforest in the aftermath of sandmining. Unless focused pressure is applied to land managers, they prefer to turn a blind eye to the problem . In dunes homelessness is part of the problem and if homeless people remain invisible to the public ,( hidden in successfull community revegetation projects), then to authorities there is no problem. Projects become victims of their own success as trees are cleared, erosion gauges & rubbish accumulates . If we want to be serious about supporting and protecting our reserves we need to recognise the scope of the problem & abandon the fantasy that we can go on absorbing the impacts . Then we need a coordinated approach as relying on scant enforcement is hopeless.

  5. Well, you know what they say ” call it paradise, then kiss it goodbye ”
    This is tourism , you wanted it now you’ve got it.
    Enjoy ! G”)

  6. Martin,
    The NSW government has the money. It comes from the GST, the Goods and Services Tax.
    Every time you buy something there is a tax that goes to the state government.

  7. What do you expect from national parks, they have had their staff cut back by the state government over many years( efficiency dividends) . You get platitudes from the government , more staff etc but all lies as it is not going to rangers. You vote for these people, that’s what you get.

  8. The problem has been national parks have been subject to efficiency dividends from the state government for years. Lack of frontline staff(rangers) are a big issue. Dont believe the government propaganda on increase staffing levels. You get what you vote for!

  9. Let’s get to what this lady really want, no access and let’s make 7 mile off limits t o everyone t o geep it a private beach fo the select few.
    If peaple can’t see this you will soon enough.


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