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News Release 6th March 2013

Four wheel drivers are warned to take care when driving at Stockton Beach in the Worimi Conservation Lands north of Newcastle, as the recent weather has caused more beach erosion and drop-offs, creating hazardous driving conditions.

 

National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) Hunter Region Manager Robert Quirk said the recent large swell and tides has eroded the beach creating dangerous drop-offs, flooding and making parts of the beach impassable to all vehicles.

 

“The north easterly swell has had the greatest impact on the southern end of the park, with the beachfront south of the Lavis Lane entrance inaccessible in all but the lowest of tides, “ Mr Quirk.

 

“However there is still access to the dunes in the Recreational Vehicle Area”, he said.

 

“Visitors still keen to drive on the beachfront are encouraged to access via the Anna Bay beach entrance.

 

“Wave action from the storms has also created ledges of varying heights, along large sections of the beach, which drivers need to be aware of.

 

“In addition, deep pools of water have accumulated at the beach entrances creating large areas of very soft sand, which are very hazardous to vehicles.

 

“While the beach remains open to vehicles, drivers are advised to be aware of the potentially hazardous conditions.

 

“People should plan their trip to travel at low tide only, according to the conditions, and to be prepared for rapidly changing beach driving conditions.

 

“If the beach is too narrow to pass safely, retrace your route or wait for the tide to subside. Do not attempt to traverse the beach by driving over the front dune or vegetation”.

Mungo Beach, in Myall Lakes National Park, which was temporarily closed to vehicles because of severe beach erosion was reopened today.

National Parks and Wildlife Service Hunter Region manager Robert Quirk said milder weather conditions over the past week had resulted in significant quantities of sand being naturally deposited back on the beach improving conditions for 4WD beach driving.

“People are advised that a number of sections of the beach are still narrow and vehicle access would be restricted in the event of high tides and large seas,’’ he said.

“Beach drivers are reminded to stay off dunes, including back tracks, and vegetated areas and plan to avoid the high tide periods.

For more information phone 65910300 or visit environment.nsw.gov.au.

The following OPINION piece is the original version that Craig worked on. The published peice linked below is what was slightly edited and published in the Necastle Herald 12/02/2012

OPINION: Unity key to sustain parks access for all

The Stockton Beach Rally was an impressive display of the depth of feeling within the 4wd community over the ongoing loss of access to the Australian Bush and although the organisers did a fantastic job and the behaviour of the attendee’s behaviour was excellent, it was also a massive opportunity wasted.

Social media played a huge role in the organisation of the event, and as is often the case with social media events, a huge amount of misinformation was circulating about the intent of the rally and who to blame. Ultimately, the rejection of mediation options to address these problems placed the Four Wheel Drive Association in a position where it could not support the rally. Not because we do not support the concerns of the 4WD community, nothing could be further from the truth; but because negotiation and consultation will always be our preferred approach in the first instance. We seek to promote the positive aspects of our lifestyle, the mateship, the unity, our love of this beautiful country and our wish to enjoy it.

As a precursor to drafting a management plan for Stockton Beach, NPWS invited the 4WD Association to join a consultative committee that met 6 times during 2011 to obtain our views about future use of the area.

The Association presented arguments for;-

  • Access along the entire tidal zone (swash zone and berm)
  • Camping behind the frontal dune (NPWS is thinking limited numbers and only at designated areas)
  • Shared access to the RVA area
  • Access to the high dunes where park title allows
  • Driving through the swale area on open sand (avoiding vegetation and middens)

However, whilst at first glance, the rally may have seemed to be solely about Stockton Beach, the key issue facing the 4wd community is the loss of access to the Australian Bush which has taken place over the last three decades. It is tempting to blame Parks and the rangers but we as an association have the privilege to work with these dedicated people and we get to know them; they have the same love for our country and the passion to get out and see it as the average owner of a 4wd.  There are many issues where we have differences of opinion on appropriate management techniques, but it does not take much digging to find out that the biggest issue facing our National Parks is the lack of funds that are made available to them.  With every new park the budget just gets stretched and it has to stop, we as an association cannot support the creation of any new parks until the government can properly fund our existing ones.

Over the last ten to fifteen years the ownership of 4wd’s has increased dramatically and this puts added pressure on the places we enjoy; parks cannot afford to maintain these places so they have to close them, unfortunately this puts even more pressure on the remaining ones.  We need to free up more areas for the average family to be able to go and just let their kids run around.  As 4WD enthusiasts we all have to take a responsible approach to our pastime, we have to be custodians of the environment and the places we patronise and we have to appreciate the need for cyclical regeneration. It is just getting too hard to find some place to set up a tent and look around without having to hike for half a day or more.

As an executive member the Australian Confederation of Motor Clubs, the Four Wheel Drive Association have joined forces with other motoring disciplines to give us all a united voice and reciprocal support for the issues that concern us. As advocates for the entire motor enthusiast community of over 300,000+ in NSW alone the; ACMC represents our concerns to government and bureaucracy with strength of numbers. Unity of purpose and unity of action is the path we have to pursue to achieve a sustainable future for our lifestyle.

We would like to thank Alan Hay, Patron of the ACMC and motoring enthusiast Senate Candidate for the tireless work he has undertaken on behalf of our community. Alan has been following recent events with some concern and has assisted in opening dialogue. It is sad that we have had to politicise our pastime but that is where the decisions that affect all of us emanate from. To have someone fighting for our future at the highest level of politics will be invaluable.

As an organisation we seek to work with the organisers of the Stockton rally, combine our strength, formulate submissions and engage in cooperative representations to government and departments.  The rally was a tremendous expression of the passion we share but without carefully considered direction and strategy, fails to affect positive outcomes.


Craig Thomas is the president of 4WD NSW-ACT.