Stop stage 2 of Winney Bay destruction

Aerial view of Part of the Stage 1 works at Winney Bay

[Forum] Winney Bay Reserve, Copacabana , may not be part of your backyard, but it is part of Australia’s heritage, indeed part of our world, and as such, it deserves respect and nurture.

A $10m spend of taxpayer and ratepayer dollars has been ill advised and, before more destruction to Copacabana’s natural environment takes place, please read the following and press for the Stage 2, $4.6m, to be diverted to more pressing community needs. I have owned property in Copacabana since 1978. I have lived here permanently for the past 20 years. Copacabana is a place of breathtaking beauty. Originally named Tudibaring, “the place where the waves beat like your heart”, this place is a natural treasure.

There are two headlands. The northern headland, now known as Cape Three Points, with Captain Cook Lookout on its brow, is Bulbararing, “the biggest, most powerful, headland in the region, a place of cultural signifi cance connecting earth, moon, stars and ocean”, revered by Aboriginal peoples. It is one of Australia’s most easterly outcrops and the point is closely past by migrating whales. In 2005, the first 5 Lands Walk took place, which covered 10km from MacMasters Beach to Terrigal, “connecting people to people and people to place”. Walk one was attended by mostly locals, maybe numbering a few thousand. The walk became a feature of the area, with many signs pointing the way, some even obstructing the very views people came to see.

In 2015, at a cost of $278,000, a concrete pathway was introduced to assist walkers into Winney Bay from Copacabana. Sadly, the bay now has a sewer outlet, which rather spoils things. From the bay, the ascent to Avoca Beach is via a fi re trail. With walker numbers now exceeding 20,000 on the Winter Solstice Event day, a cliff top walk, more stairs, a third lookout, bridge and market stalls have been planned. The scale and cost of this project seems out of proportion to community needs. Already in existence, is the new Captain Cook Lookout, costing around $2m.

The view is easterly out to sea, and southerly as far as Sydney. The design is unsatisfactory for small adults and children, due to the high metal walls along the side with the best views. The lookout is inaccessible for wheelchairs. Within a 100m of Captain Cook Lookout is a second lookout known as Winney Bay Lookout. There are 15 car spaces on the same level as this lookout, making it wheelchair friendly. Both lookouts share the 15 parking spaces that further development will use. This lookout faces north, with views past the Skillion to Norah Head.

With the 2015 construction, from del Monte Place, and an improved fi re trail, it is hard to comprehend the need for any more steps. However, by 2018, what is known as Stage 1 was introduced, with hundreds more steps and clearing of bushland for 365m in length, and often as wide as 9m. The intention is to continue the stairs/pathway along the cliff face as Stage 2. This will mean that some areas will be cleared up to 20m wide and much of the walkway is in areas close to the cliff edge, where signs clearly spell out the danger.

The clearing has meant many felled trees, some of which had hollows suitable for wildlife. To date, no attempt has been made to recreate these lost ‘homes’. Concrete does not allow the earth to breathe or take on life giving rain. Concrete paths and stairs also change the natural form and water fl ow of the landscape. To date, the cliff stairs and widened fi re trail have cost $3.8m. Stage 2, that moves from crown land into COSS land, has been granted an additional $4.6m. The $4.6m is for a continuation of the concrete stairs plus the construction of a Lookout, bridge and market stalls. No additional parking or wheelchair access to Captain Cook Lookout is part of the grant. The proposed lookout platform juts over the cliff and is many meters high, and interferes with residents’ views, let alone the natural beauty of the site.

The argument for the design is that it helps tell the Aboriginal dreaming story about the whales, but that’s a white man’s dream. Leave nature alone and the traditional stories don’t need a prop. Adding environmental insult to the injuries already inflicted is the proposed bridge across the cliff crevasse, a place where rock is known to regularly break away. Why is there a need to cross this noble cutting? Remember cliff faces are prone to fall into the sea and bridges often become places where suicides occur. Note Terrigal’s 2018 massive rock fall.

If celebrating the winter solstice means destroying our environment, fl ora and fauna, then what is the point? The 5 Lands mantra “connecting people to people and people to place” becomes a hollow cry when place has been so reconfigured. Bulbararing is our lookout, our bridge, our heritage, a magnificent place where 1,000s of whales pass on their migrations. Copacabana deserves preservation not a $10m destruction. I therefore ask our Councillors and the public not to support any more ‘development’ of our natural environment, stop Stage 2, and revert to the masterplan, a simple walking trail. Reallocate funds to environmentally sound and more pressing community needs: the list is long. If the funds can’t be reallocated, it would be better to forfeit than continue the destruction.

Email, Oct 22 Elaine Odgers Norling, Copacabana

Similar stories