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Light to Light Walk, Ben Boyd National Park

Ben Boyd NP - Andrew Connor

Ben Boyd NP – Andrew ConnorLight to Light Walk, Ben Boyd National Park

Light to Light Walk, Ben Boyd National Park

In 2019 the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) exhibited a draft Light to Light Walk Strategy along with amendments to the Ben Boyd NP Plan of Management. The draft Strategy proposed a signature multi-day coastal walk, transforming the existing campground walk experience with hut to hut and lighthouse style accommodation in addition to new walk-in campgrounds. There were also proposed realignments to the existing track. As well as forcing independent walkers and others into formal campgrounds, the draft Strategy also proposed the prohibition of bush camping along the walking route.

The public exhibition attracted over 200 submissions, including from Bushwalking NSW Inc and bushwalking clubs. NPWS has now released the final Strategy and Plan of Management Amendments along with a report on submissions made and responses. These documents can be accessed here.

The final Strategy delivers much of what was proposed in the draft, although changes have been made to address some of the concerns raised during the exhibition period.

Bush camping will be allowed at Mowarry Point although it is unclear if the existing area will need expansion over time. NPWS will not co-locate independent camping with accommodation at Hegartys Bay. Independent camping will be relocated from Hegartys Bay to purpose built walk-in only sites at Bittangabee Bay. A separate group camping area will also be developed at Bittangabee Bay. Given the new facilities proposed at Mowarry Point, NPWS will no longer construct purpose built walk-in only campsites at Saltwater Creek. Two new hut accommodation sites at Mowarry Point and Hegartys Bay are proposed to cater for a maximum of 36 walkers per night. The existing accommodation at Green Cape Lightstation will be reconfigured to accommodate 36 walkers.

The Strategy confirms that the new accommodation will be managed by NPWS rather than a commercial operator.

The proposed walk has been awarded $7.9 million funding by the Regional Growth – Environment and Tourism Fund program, an initiative of the NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment. Subject to approvals, work on the first stage was expected to commence in late 2021 and be completed in late 2022. Before work commenced, a Review of Environmental Factors was released for public comment.

To assist with the implementation of the Strategy, NPWS will be establishing a Light to Light Walk Stakeholder Reference Group. It is hoped that this group will include representation from the bushwalking community.

Review of Environmental Factors Released for Public Comment

NPWS has also released a Review of Environmental Factors (REF) to inform the proposed upgrades to the Light to Light Walk. The REF is open for consultation until 15 October 2021. BNSW Inc will be making a submission on the REF and affiliated clubs are encourage to do likewise. The REF and accompanying documentation can be found here.

 

 

A few words from the president – March 2021

As we head into what we all hope will be a better bushwalking year than 2020, I expect some of you are spending non-walking time pouring over maps, websites, books … making plans of hikes and trips that might or might not happen. There is a great joy in reading, thinking and planning about bushwalking and travelling, a joy only surpassed by actually getting out there and doing it!

I was recently browsing in my local bookshop when I stumbled (not a good bushwalker trait) upon a new book, The Ways of the Bushwalker. Something new, I pondered. No, I discovered, as I expect you already knew, that this is a 2020 update of the original 2007 book. Author Melissa Harper has done a marvellous job of updating her history of bushwalking in Australia. She helps us understand how bushwalking is the most popular way for Australians to engage with the bush. The book is a good reminder as to why so many people join bushwalking clubs and maintain their connection with the land. The core of this book, of course, are the people who make bushwalking what it is.

Also on my about-to-read pile is Kindred—A Cradle Mountain Love Story. Kate Legge’s account is of two early 20th century unconventional adventurers who, standing on top of Cradle Mountain, imagined a national park for all. They pioneered eco-tourism, probably long before such a word could even be conceived of, but never saw the vision completed. Their legacy is important, if for no more reason than the inspiration for generations after them to stand up and defend wilderness.

Talking of inspiration, anyone with an historic bent will delight in a book I got lost in last year. Dead Reckoning—Tales of the Great Explorers 1800-1900 brings the reader into the remarkable world of 19th century exploration and travel. Populated with characters undertaking truly mad enterprises, with varying degrees of success, the book reminds us just how unforgiving the world can be. Although our own bushwalking may seem rather tame in comparison to the travels of these explorers, any bushwalking reader will understand the drive behind these tales.

And to close, one final book to comment on, picked at random from my bookshelf: Barry Stone’s The 50 Greatest Walks of the World. This might be useful if you are heading to Britain to walk—fat chance this year—where it seems that most of the world’s greatest walks reside. Curiously, there are only two such walks in Australia: the Uluru Circuit and the Sydney Harbour Bridge Climb! At least New Zealand gets a true hike, the Milford Sound. All seems a bit minimalist compared to the seven-moth Appalachian Way and the thirty-five day Camino de Santiago. But then again, why complain when we all know that there are some of the greatest walks and hikes right here on our doorstep in New South Wales. Maybe we just keep the knowledge to ourselves?

 

Bill Boyd,

President

Bushwalking NSW Inc.

Keep exploring, be amazed!

A few words from the President

As we reach the end of 2020, I am sure everyone is taking some time to reflect on the Year We Didn’t Expect! Understatement of the year! Having said that, despite everything the world has had to deal with, bushwalkers in NSW have been relatively fortunate. After the false start to the bushwalking year, and several months of restricted activities, bushwalking has taken off again. I hear that many, if not all, our clubs have been active – maybe making up for lost time, back on the bush tracks of our wonderful bushwalking State. My own club, for example, is up to its former frenetic form, and I am hard pressed to keep up with all that the members are doing. Fortunately, I am my club’s newsletter editor, so I receive reports on everything. It’s a great way to keep up to date and contribute back to the club. This is my roundabout way to encourage everyone to think about contributing to your club. I do appreciate that club committee work is not everyone’s cup of tea, but don’t forget that all our clubs (and indeed Bushwalking NSW itself) relies on volunteers. If meetings and treasury and secretarial stuff do not appeal to you, then you might find other roles – newsletter editor, social secretary, events, walks, kayaking, coordinator, etc. etc. Just check in with your club and see how you can contribute to your local bushwalking community.

This is also my roundabout way of sending out a great big Thank You to all the volunteers to run clubs, events, manage club web sites, edit newsletters, lobby, etc. etc. Our own office relies on volunteers also, and I am sure you will join me in thanking them for their quite self-less behind-the-scene work. How did this newsletter come together? Volunteer …

Many of you will now be aware that Bushwalking NSW has finally refreshed its Constitution. Yes, we have a 21st century constitution. After a bit of hard work, it is updated to better reflect the way Bushwalking NSW works, to better represent the demographics of our member clubs, and to ensure we meet legal and other statutory requirements. I send out another huge big Thank You, this time to everyone who has, over the last couple of years, engaged the Bushwalking NSW Management Committee with reviews, suggestions, arguments one way or another. It has made our job much easier to hear what the members have to say. Many thanks, also, the members of the Management Committee who have worked hard and long at finding ways to accommodate all the requirements for the new Constitution. And finally, another Thank You to everyone who attended the Special Meeting to finalise and approve the new Constitution.

I expect, however, that many of you at the Special Meeting were more interested in hearing from our guest speaker, Hugh Flowers, on how to raise $7.5m to develop a long-distance walking track. His insights into the patience and perseverance required to develop such a thing was impressive. His talk was another reminder that bush walking facilities don’t just appear out of nowhere. They require vision, hard work and effort. Hugh, your talk was an inspiration to us as Bushwalking NSW looks at its future goals. Thank You, Hugh.

Finally, might I indulge in few personal thoughts on how we present bushwalking to the broader public? Visual messaging is extremely powerful, so what we show the public about bushwalking is important if we, as I expect all clubs seeks to do, wish to maintain and grow our membership. I have just returned from a trip which included hiking in the Mt Kaputar National Park. This has to be one of NSW’s great secrets! An amazing landscape, interesting walks, high country, fascinating geology, and wonderful views. And so well managed by the local NPWS guys – well done you. But why were there not the crowds I encountered almost next door (100 km away) in the equally impressive Warrumbungles? Me thinking out loud … could it be because the latter are advertised with images of grand landscapes, huge skies, impressive peaks, expansive views? And the former by a photo of one single cliff (albeit a rather impressive one), no images of the much higher and in some ways more spectacular mountains? It got me thinking about the ways we communicate with the public about national parks, bushwalking, the great outdoors. The images we choose to share could draw people in or perhaps be less encouraging. Back to Mt Kaputar and the Warrumbungles: do I want to drive five hundred miles to explore an amazing mountain range or to visit one cliff …?  Just a thought.

And with that, it, of course remains for me to wish everyone all the best for the festive season. I do hope that you are able to celebrate whichever version you choose, and that part of your celebration can be in the great outdoors. Looking forward to a wonderful 2021!

Cheers, Bill Boyd, President, Bushwalking NSW

A few words from the President

October, and we are well into spring. I thought I’d open my few words with a pithy quote about spring, something that might enthuse bushwalkers everywhere. How about Robin Williams’ declaration that “Spring is nature’s way of saying, Let’s Party”? Let’s get out into the bush and party! But then I discovered Margaret Atwood telling us that “in the spring, at the end of the day, you should smell like dirt”. I suspect little did she think she was addressing a bunch of bushwalkers who, after a good hike probably do smell a wee bit like dirt. So there it is, get out there and party, and whatever you do, come home smelling of the great outdoors.

And talking of the great outdoors, I hear that clubs across NSW are getting out and about more these days. The winter hibernation – a generous interpretation of the Covid lockdowns – has passed. We in NSW have been fortunate to be able to roam more widely and in larger numbers than our bushwalking counterparts in Victoria. Do spare them a thought. And so it is that we are able, in this State, to reexplore our own back yards. Perhaps you might be doing a little of what I have been doing recently, exploring parts of the State I haven’t visited for many years. Before the Queensland border was closed (again!), I decided to take the long route to Canberra from the north coast, avoiding Greater Sydney so that I could get across the border for a bit of grandparent duty without having to declare I’d been in the dreaded hotspot. The result, a fine bit of hiking in the Warrumbungles, and a reminder of what the western districts can offer us. Return trips to the New England Tableland, Mount Kaputar, and the Pilliga are in the offing, and no doubt several other choice destinations will delight. Thank you, by the way, to the bushwalking clubs whose web sites I have perused to help my planning.

But we all have our own backyards. And this year, our backyards are all looking pretty good. Everywhere I have been there is fine spring green growth, the flowers are popping out, and in my own sub-tropical rainforest clad mountains we are getting views! Yes, views! Bushwalking in rainforest is rewarded by glimpses rather than views, and often precious few of these. As the burnt forest recovers, we are rewarded with more expansive views – although hardly expansive in a Snow Mountain sense – and on recent walks we have all been able to understand the lie of the land better.

Talking of flowers, who has had an opportunity to take a walk or two along our wonderful coast recently? The coastal heath is looking good these days, and for the twitchers amongst us, the birds are out. One of the groups I was out with recently was determinedly warned off by a couple of kites guarding their chicks. And if you are lucky, you will still be able to spot a few the whales. They are still migrating south. On the same walk, progress was delayed considerably as a couple of whales put on the most impressive display of tail and fin slapping, rolling and generally having, dare I say it, a whale of a time. And all within easy view from the shore.

So, let’s get out there and party! Happy bushwalking everyone. Bill

Your say on our focus

Thank you to everyone who responded to our survey in January, 2017! It was a biggie!

To begin sharing the results and our actions with you, here’s the ordered response to the question:

What should be the current focus of Bushwalking NSW?

  1. Safety, rescue, risk management
  2. Tracks and access (defined walks)
  3. Conservation (natural places to walk in)
  4. Public promotion of bushwalking
  5. Training
  6. Services to clubs

Interestingly, these options were presented in quite a different order in the survey:

  1. Services to clubs
  2. Public promotion of bushwalking
  3. Conservation
  4. Tracks and access
  5. Safety, rescue, risk management
  6. Training

So it was a good question to ask!

If you would like to send us your thoughts, you can still respond to our survey here.

This information will ultimately go into our strategic plan, however we have already responded with work in these areas:

  • more work on our Risk Management Guidelines
  • met with NPWS and members about tracks and walk promotion
  • visited the historic, Kedumba Valley hut with NPWS and talked about tracks and access (one member specifically asked for huts)
  • delivered an excellent minimal impact bushwalking presentation
  • and more!

While we could never do everything that can be imagined, members also made the following suggestions which we could may be able to  on if we find the resources: “Collate an inventory of walks”

Also, one members suggested we “monitor insurance suitability each year” which we do with the help of Bushwalking Australia.

Our Community Liaison Officer, Alexandra Davidson has been working tirelessly to analyse your results so we will be continuing to bring you more details of the results.