Track for eco event has damaged the environment

Bush has been cleared at Winney Bay for an extension to the 5 Lands WalkBush has been cleared at Winney Bay for an extension to the 5 Lands Walk, stage 1.

A recently-formed community group, Save Winney Bay, conducted a walk from the Reserve in Oceano St, Copacabana, to Del Monte Point, to assess damage to native bush caused by clearing to extend the 5 Lands Walk.

One of the Save Winney Bay organisers, Ms Elaine Odgers Norling, asked “Has the 5 Lands Walk lost it’s way?” in response to what the group believes is clearing of sensitive native bush. “I was part of the team that created the first 5 Lands Walk in 2005, the aim was to bring our communities together to share and celebrate our natural environment and aboriginal culture,” Ms Odgers Norling said. “Each year the event has grown and moved further from its roots, evident in the destruction of the bushland of the Winney Bay track, as reported on the Save Winney Bay facebook page,” she said. “Maybe it is time to reevaluate our priorities before commercial interests turn the walk into a theme park and destroy the natural environment we wanted to enjoy and celebrate.

“The Winney Bay track is becoming a roadway and there are plans to put a bridge across the natural cutting in the rock face and an elaborate lookout. “A Regional Development flyer states that it will ‘improve the appeal to visitors, with market stalls available for public hire, and for events such as food tastings weddings and festivals’. “The 5 Lands Walk vision is lost once words like ‘improve’ and ‘appeal’ are used, rather than respect, cultural heritage and protection of our bushland and beaches. “An all-weather walkway is the best way to preserve the environment if well designed and managed.

“The sense of being part of the landscape as you track through bushland and are afforded spectacular views is magic, but destroying swathes of natural bushland with paved roads and lookouts that lack any empathy with the surroundings is short-sighted. “This area does not have to be commercialised. “As a spectacular, unique, and precious place of natural beauty, it sells itself and encourages visitors who appreciate nature. “Next on the drawing board is a ‘pathway’ over Middle Headland and MacMasters Beach, extending south with a track and boardwalk to Maitland Bay and Putty Beach. “Will these areas suffer the same insensitive treatment Winney Bay is undergoing? “Surely it is time for some community consultation and re-evaluation regarding the use of our natural assets,” she said.

Coast Community News has asked the 5 Land Walk committee to respond.

Source: Media release, Mar 23 Elaine Odgers Norling, Save Winney Bay