Proposed changes to the popular National Parks Light to Light walk were released for public viewing last Friday, and continue to cause a stir in the community.
NSW Parks and Wildlife Services outlined in the 32-page draft strategy that the proposed upgrades to the Light to Light walk experience are in response to "growing interest in nature-based experiences and multi-day walks in a national park and is consistent with NPWS vision to inspire everyone to love national parks".
Inspired by experiences and walking tracks in New Zealand, Tasmania and Victoria the service hopes to build NSW's first coastal "hut to hut" multi-day walking experience.
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By supplying "roofed accommodation" along the track the service says it will extend the Light to Light walking season by "providing shelter from poor weather, winds and cold nights with hut accommodation that otherwise has tended to limit visitors to the peak season in warmer months which are already busy periods in Ben Boyd National Park".
While concerns were initially raised about possible removal of access to popular camping sites like Saltwater and Bittangabee campgrounds, the latest plan revisions suggest that's not the case.
Hut and tent "eco-accommodation" options are proposed for Mowarry Point and Hegartys Bay, while independent walkers intending on self-managed camping will be able to book in tent-only campsites at the existing Saltwater and Bittangabee campgrounds.
"Roofed accommodation and facilities add appeal to both experienced and new walkers, allowing lighter packs by avoiding the need to carry tents, bedding or cooking equipment," the strategy outlines.
However, it also states camping away from facilities including pack camping along the walk will not be permitted.
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A major track realignment will take place along the southern section of the walk. A major change outlined will be the realignment of a large section of track between Bittangabee and Green Cape which currently passes through a sensitive heath area. The track will be re-routed closer to the coastline.
"Realigning this section of the track to the coast will enable rehabilitation of the heath, reduce the impact on threatened species and deliver a better visitor experience."
The proposed realignment is due to pass through popular fishing location Pulpit Rock. However fishing activities will still be permitted. Meanwhile the car park will be relocated west of its current location, the draft states.
NPWS said it envisaged local tour operators and communities benefitting from the changes to the walk.
"The strategy envisages that a range of associated services will support the upgraded walk including but not limited to, for example, commercial operators offering various levels of assistance to individuals or groups, transfer services, food provisions, value-add tours and experiences pre and post walk.
Read also: Locals concerned over Light to Light changes
"The project will support and enhance local business opportunities as track-users prepare for their walk experience including nearby accommodation pre and post walk.
"The construction of the walk will also generate economic and employment opportunities. Additionally, the project will provide opportunities to strengthen local and regional partnerships, including working with the Aboriginal community," the document states.
Accommodation arrangements at Green Cape Light Station are also set to change.
NPWS will host a series of community information days between 3-7pm on:
- Wednesday, July 31 - Pambula Hall, Quondola St, Pambula;
- Thursday, August 1 - Eden RSL Memorial Hall, 84A Bass St, Eden; and
- Friday, August 2 - Bega Showground pavilion, Upper St, Bega.
You can read and submit comments on the draft plan of management amendment and the draft strategy by clicking here.