Renewed calls for winter diversion
Debate on the stalled riverside winter diversion track has resurfaced with the opening of the Margaret River, as people face trekking along Caves Road or navigating the crossing to reach the other side.
Earlier this month, Margaret River Discovery Co’s Sean Blocksidge saw a woman weighing up her options at the river mouth, which had recently broken through unassisted for the first time this winter.
The woman attempted the crossing, but ended up calling on help from a nearby bodyboarder.
Mr Blocksidge told the Times the Cape-to-Cape winter diversion track could have prevented the situation and taken walkers along a beautiful section of the river and into Prevelly.
“Unfortunately, the 135km of Cape-to-Cape awesomeness has almost zero opportunity for walkers to see or experience the real Margaret River,” he said.
“It’s ridiculous they still have to negotiate the hazards of the river crossing or walking along Caves Road as cars pass them at 90km/h.”
Last month, AugustaMargaret River Shire councillors voted to defer their decision on a boardwalk through Melaleuca wetlands, which would have formed part of the overall diversion track plan.
An Aboriginal heritage survey and foreshore management action plan were also ordered, but no timeline was offered.
Mr Blocksidge believed a “scare campaign” by “a very vocal minority” was overstating the project’s environmental risks and said if trails could be developed on sensitive World Heritage sites, he was certain the same could be done in “little old Margaret River”.
However, those rallying against the plan say the extent of environmental risks is not clear because there has been little forward planning.
Neighbour Ray Swarts claimed the project’s advocates were few and had vested interests, while Margaret River Environment Centre’s Neroli Carlton said rushing the project would not only threaten the environment, but also tourism in the longterm. “They (tourism operators) are not going to be happy when this Margaret River region, which is rapidly changing, turns into suburbia,” Ms Carlton said.
“There won’t be much to market then.
“It’s a very short-term approach to a long-term problem.”