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FAR SOUTH COAST, NSW

Beowa National Park

Proposed Development Project: Light to Light Walk

Mowarry Point is one of the sites within Beowa NP where lodge construction has been proposed

As one of the last remaining sections of wild coast in NSW, Beowa National Park is a critical refuge for native plants and animals, including more than 30 threatened species. This culturally significant wild coastline is under threat again, after the Black Summer bushfires destroyed huge expanses in 2019/20.


THE DEVELOPMENT PROPOSAL IN BRIEF:

- Multi-day, exclusive lodge-to-lodge walk developments at Mowarry Point and Hegarty’s Bay, threatening to forever spoil these wild ‘secret spots’
- Two large, remote-area accommodation complexes for 72 guests plus staff, requiring destructive land clearing and restricting affordable public access
- Ten kilometres of new, paved walking track: environmentally and culturally damaging, unnecessarily ‘urban’ levels of trail construction in a fire-ravaged national park

THE DEVELOPER:

NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS)

Seals close to the shoreline at Beowa NP

Background

Beowa National Park is an ecological haven in the far south coast of NSW (near Eden), stretching along 47 kilometres of beautiful rocky, sea-carved coastline, with folded red-rock platforms, sheltered inlets and coastal heath. It’s home to bountiful native wildlife including more than 30 threatened species, from the endangered southern brown bandicoot, glossy black cockatoo and bristle birds, to sea eagles that soar over migrating whales.

More than 180 Indigenous cultural sites have been recorded in the park: middens, rock shelters and travel routes demonstrate a strong and ongoing connection to Country. Colonial history is everywhere too, from the Green Cape Lighthouse jutting out into the Pacific Ocean to Boyd’s Tower at its northern end.

The flora and fauna here will take years to recover after huge expanses of the coastline were destroyed in the 2019/20 Black Summer bushfires. The vast majority of the park south of Eden was severely affected, and Beowa National Park was badly burnt. Helping with this recovery should be the priority. Instead, NPWS is pushing ahead with an exclusive, environmentally-destructive and taxpayer-funded tourism development.

This is one of the last unspoilt areas of wild coast in NSW; we should be doing everything we can to keep it wild and remote character.

Left: Proposed Development at Mowarry Point. Source: Light to Light Walk - Review of environmental factors for walk upgrade.
Right: The impact of the Black Summer bushfires on Beowa National Park and surrounding region. Source: https://www.bushfirefacts.org/fire-maps.html

The Proposed Development


The new Light to Light Walk is a proposal put forward by the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) to build exclusive tourist accommodation that will impact more than six hectares of national park. The multi-day, lodge-to-lodge walk includes:
  • Two large-scale, taxpayer funded accommodation complexes at Mowarry Point and Hegarty’s Bay for 72 guests plus staff with helicopter and car access that will impact existing affordable, low-impact bush campsites and a rewilded farm site.
  • Ten kilometres of costly new walking track, along with new roads, car parks and boardwalks. This involves extensive land clearing that will undermine conservation and recovery efforts for at least 30 threatened species of wildlife in critical, unburnt areas of the park

This expensive, major development with 30 man-made structures and new paved walking tracks is an extravagant waste of taxpayer money that has no place in a national park where conservation should be the priority.

The development proposal will also impact existing local businesses and culturally significant sites. Public access to existing free campsites will be restricted, and accommodation availability at Green Cape Lighthouse will be prioritised to lodge walkers - the general public will be restricted to only 4 weeks per year. Instead of experiencing nature with minimal signs of human intervention, visitors will instead be taking a tame trip into a semi-urbanised environment, greatly diminishing the remote and wild character of Beowa National Park.

Hegarty’s Bay is another of the proposed development sites

The Problems with the Development

NPWS is forsaking the at-risk flora and fauna of Beowa National Park for the sake of luxury tourism. The development proposal will be funded by taxpayer money, at a time when these funds should be directed to protecting and restoring the natural beauty of this fire-ravaged wildlife haven.
  • The development goes against the NSW National Parks & Wildlife Act 1974: it conflicts with four core objectives outlined in Section 2A, which are clearly focused on conservation and underpin the purpose of NSW NPWS
  • The environmental impact has not been properly considered: the development will impact more than six hectares of national park land. This is especially dire given the backdrop of 2019’s catastrophic bushfires and the ongoing climate and biodiversity crisis. The fieldwork and assessment, including the environmental impact assessments, were conducted before the bushfires, which completely transformed the landscape.
  • Reduced public access to nature: camping will be restricted to certain sites, with priority for the accessible accommodation at the Green Cape Lighthouse complex given to lodge-to-lodge walkers. This will reduce available accommodation for those unable to otherwise access the national park.
  • Unclear economic outcome: the development is likely to have negative economic outcomes, impacting local tourism operators, while the reduced public access may reduce both visitor numbers and the park’s broad appeal.
  • NPWS have not released any modelling or coatings to indicate the cost to undertake the new Light to Light Walk.
Lack of public consultation: the public has been kept in the dark throughout the project. The first round of consultation occurred in 2019, without adequate information given.


Looking down the currently unspoilt coastline of Beowa NP. Image credit: Mick Ripon

Current status

Due to cost blowouts the budget has almost doubled from $7.9 million in 2018 to $14.48 million in 2022. NPWS have now adopted a staged approach to this development proposal. Stage one is under way, with stages two and three stalled due to lack of funding. Protect Our National Park (PONP) hopes the new Labour Government will protect Beowa National Park from this expensive, environmentally damaging and unnecessary development.

The first stage of the project is underway with parts of the existing walking track being upgraded and sections of new track being built. This includes new directional and interpretative signage on the walking track. The next stage is the development of new campgrounds.

The Deputy Secretary of NPWS, Atticus Fleming, acting in the role of Coordinator General, Environment and Heritage Group, has said in a letter dated 25 September 2023,  “The construction of huts will be subject to available funding and a value for money assessment. There is currently no timeframe for a decision on the huts being constructed. However, if any future decision is made to construct huts, it is proposed to change the hut location from Hegartys Bay to Bittangabee Bay”. This statement represents a significant win for BLLAG and PONP. It is also, more importantly, a huge reprieve for the wild and beautiful Beowa National Park. Mr Fleming continues, saying “NPWS will continue consulting with the Light to Light Walk Stakeholder Reference Group on the project to ensure the views of the local community and stakeholders are being considered”. The Beowa Light to Light community Action Group has representation on this Stakeholder Reference Group; we will be watching and listening carefully, where there is money to be made developers will be lurking.

Stage One:
  • New and upgraded track work - due for completion December 2023
  • New walk-in campgrounds at Mowarry Point and Hegarty’s Bay
  • Upgrade of existing campsites at Bittangabee Bay (completed May 2023) and Saltwater Creek (date TBA)

Stage Two:
  • Construction of the two extensive accommodation complexes; one at Mowarry Point and the other now proposed for Bittangabee Bay - instead of Hegarty’s Bay. The development for these two sites has no funding at this stage and there is no timeframe for a decision on construction.

Stage Three:
  • Green Cape lighthouse accommodation upgrades and extensions - also pending funding.

Further information

Visit the Beowa - Light to Light - Community Action Page for more information and to keep up to date on this important campaign.

How you can help

A  thorough and independent review of the Light to Light Walk development is urgently needed - please get involved and help protect Beowa National Park.




Key contacts

Beowa - Light to Light - Community Action Group is opposing this development. It is a diverse group of people: locals, supporters from further afield, walkers, fishers, surfers, nature lovers, campers and more, all united by the need to keep Beowa wild.

To get in touch, either email bbllag8@gmail.com directly or connect via the Facebook group / public Facebook page.