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Byron Shire
January 22, 2022

Vehicle access to Unicorn Falls to close

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Unicorn Falls. Photo supplied

President of the recently formed Byron Hikers Club says a ‘controversy is brewing’ around National Parks’ recently announced plans to close vehicle access to Unicorn Falls, located on South Chowan Road behind Upper Main Arm.

Stephen Millard says his club has over 100 members, centred around Mullum.

‘This large, sprawling Park has virtually no public access, and they are reducing it even further’.

He says National Parks will now provide a 1.3km path as the only access, whereas before, the road provided access ‘to even more spectacular waterfalls and provided access towards the base of Mt Chowan’.

According to the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS), the masterplan is part of ‘nine projects as part of its visitor infrastructure program, which aims to increase nature-based tourism in NSW, boost regional visitor economies and improve coammunity wellbeing’.

The Unicorn Falls Draft Masteplan’s introduction reads, ‘The Tweed Byron Hinterland Trails, a multi-day walking track route, linking Tweed Shire, via Mount Jerusalem National Park, to Minyon Falls in Nightcap National Park, is one of these nine projects’.

The masterplan says the walk from Unicorn Falls to Minyon Falls, ‘will bring economic benefits to local communities and improve recreational opportunities within the Tweed and Byron local government areas’.

Mr Millard says the Unicorn Falls masterplan process was ‘deeply flawed’ because its intent changed from increasing visitor facilities to decreasing them.

The revised masterplan says, owing to public feedback, ‘South Chowan Road will be closed to vehicle traffic other than for park neighbours who use South Chowan Road as their primary access, and management and emergency vehicles. People with mobility disability will be provided with a gate key to visit the falls on request’.

Pathways and visitor information is also part of the upgrade.

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  1. Great to hear NPWS plans. It will stop all the illegal van camping at the falls and hopefully deter people with dogs and from having doofs there. The beautiful falls have been getting trashed. Well done

  2. Can’t work out why byron walkers club sees it as controversial, think they would be happy a new walking trail is going in and the road being closed. A great decision to minimise the affect of yahoos.

  3. More gates means less costs of management I guess. Well done NPWS… Our National Parks are not just here for conservation, they are here for public value, education and access yet are less and less accessible so the value and education deteriorate alongside. Look at Minyon. Closed for 8 months for “upgrades”. That must be some serious upgrades, hopefully more than just the pit dunnies. What about Border ranges eastern access? Closed also for 8 months as well so far, for a rock on the road or landslip, not unusual. Bar Mountain closed for over 12 months so far “for maintenance until further notice”… so many more. Get on with it but don’t impede access! These parks are public assets and need to be managed as such. We are increasingly limited particularly with the recent closure of our only decent locally accessible local mountain bushwalk that when compared with other states makes NSW parks look like a land locking control freak with a hidden agenda.

  4. I have lived Upp. Main Arm over 45 years & been a frequent visitor to Unicorn Falls.
    The degradation due to high usage of the area is very evident.
    Recently some idiot has even been chopping down Bangalow Palms with an axe!
    Yes – doofs, dog’s, overnight campers & poo from both.
    Restricting access is a GOOD move.


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