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Telegherry Camp Ground Rehabilitation- Chichester State Forest

Telegherry Camp Ground Rehabilitation

Four Wheel Drive NSW and ACT inc. became aware through social media, that the Telegherry Camp Ground within the Chichester State Forest had sustained significant damage through an inconsiderate act of vandalism from irresponsible people on a recent weekend of destruction at the Telegherry Camp Ground during a wet weather event. The inconsiderate individual/s decided it would be a good idea to carry out circle work in their vehicle/s on the saturated campground. This action resulted in losing control of their vehicle and crashing into a set of garbage bins stands, (the word Karma comes to mind) dislodging them from their concrete foundations resulting in cracking and distortion of the bin stands base.
Also, the campground suffered significant damage from the vehicle circle work, large wheel ruts, and the removal of most of the ground vegetation resulting in the area becoming one huge bog hole that more resembled the moon surface than a lush green campground. The vandals had successfully achieved the closure of the Telegherry campground until repairs could be completed.

Adding to the woes of the area, individuals believed they had the right to simply make new campsites on the riverbanks rather than in the many beautiful designated camping areas. This resulted in more and more areas being cleared along the banks of the river resulting in storm water erosion of the riverbanks. Access to the river is meant to be via walking tracks only (it is not far), the no camping on the riverbanks is to allow all visitors access to the river.

These actions resulted in the need for bollards to be installed to ensure that access to the river is walking only.

The Chichester State Forest is a very popular area for families to visit, with the pending October long weekend and school holidays, State Forest was fully aware of the disappointment the closure of the camping area was going to create but with State Forest resources already stretched to the limit, it did not look likely that the repair work could be carried out in time.

The committee of Four Wheel Drive NSW and ACT Inc made contact and expressed its desire to assist State Forests in any way possible to get the area repaired and open for use again as soon as possible. Lee Dunstan liaised with Michael Hill from the Chichester State Forest area and offered up members of Four Wheel Drive NSW and ACT inc clubs as a willing workforce to help in any way they could. Brock Smith became involved and championed the event, Brock's local knowledge and rapport with Forestry staff were invaluable in delivering the successful outcome.

State Forests graciously took up the offer and a weekend working bee was organised on very short notice.

      

Dealing with the COVID 19 restrictions at the time, we were allowed only 20 persons on-site to attend the working bee. Brock & Lee contacted several clubs for help and a small but very enthusiastic workforce was soon established from the Hunter, Sydney and Southern regions.

The Clubs/Regions represented included:
Hunter Region Clubs: Port Hunter 4wd Club
Southern Region Clubs: Black Diamond Recreational 4wd Club
Sydney Region Clubs: Triple Diamond 4wd Club, Era Recreational Club, Crossed Up 4wd Club, Camping With Families 4wd Club

There was also a local resident, Jamieson Reading who was invited along by State Forest as he had made contact with them and wanted to assist in the rehabilitation of the area. Lee and Brock included him into the working bee numbers, and what a trooper Jamieson turned out to be, if only all locals could have his passion for the area, we could have been meeting under circumstances that are more favourable.

Our workforce slowly gathered Friday evening and made camp in the small remaining camping area not affected by the vandalism but closed to all unauthorised people. The usual socialising around the campfire took place as more and more members arrived. Hunter Region members who lived nearby attended the working bee as a day trip and arrived bright and early on Saturday and Sunday mornings.

Brock had all the details of the weekend tasks we were to complete and once everyone had arrived went through in detail the JSA talk covering safety and a brief of the work to be carried out, completed all the insurance documents and COVID 19 paperwork.

Tasks included repairing the damaged bin stands, clearing overgrown trees along the track, removing debris from the river, installing bollards, repairing the damaged campground, cleaning visitor information signs sprayed with mud, and re-seeding with native grass seed.
Small groups of workers formed, gathered their tools of the trade, and dispersed to cover the various tasks set out for the weekend and it didn't take long for a feverish pace of work to start with great determination by all groups.

    

4wd NSW & ACT planned to provide lunch for the workforce on Saturday and breakfast on Sunday morning so following all COVID 19 protocols, our president Craig Thomas cooked up a delicious feast of Steak, Sausage or Chicken burgers with salad for lunch on Saturday and an absolutely huge breakfast of bacon, eggs, tomato, sausage, and mushrooms on Sunday morning all cooked and served by 8 am.

Before breaking for lunch on Saturday, the teams had all the holes dug and bollards in place (11 bollards in total) the debris removed from the river, the track clearing well underway and the campground had been raked flat.
After lunch, concreting the bollards took place and the continuation of flattening out the campground using a vehicle doing reverse circle work slowly towing around a makeshift leveller to flatten out the wheel ruts then spread the grass seed as evenly as possible. A very clever plan was derived to repair the bin stand, by using a recovery strap the structure was tipped up on its side and supported while the below-ground was repaired and leveled, this process was repeated for the other side and the damaged bin stand now looked better than the ones not vandalised. The knock off bell rang in time to enjoy some social distancing happy hour and more socialising around the fire.

Sunday morning after that sensational breakfast, we had to return to the now solid bollards to install the wire cable. This involved some very precise measuring and conversations to factor in cable sag, average people height, and how many kids could sit on the cable at once, even wind factor was considered at one stage, the end result being a sensational looking job.

Last but not least was the clean up and pack up of all the equipment supplied by State Forests into the trailer for its safe return to the Dungog Depot.

With our tasks completed, I'm sure all involved stood silently proud as they looked back at what they had achieved in one weekend, the teamwork and mate ships over the weekend were nothing short of inspiring and reinforced by the accolades from State Forest to all involved and the very positive comments on social media from very appreciative campers who would now be able to enjoy the area over the October long weekend and proceeding School Holidays.
It was a job well done, very well organised, and orchestrated by all involved.

We have been informed the person/s responsible for the vandalism is known to Police and further investigations are continuing.