Wilder­ness camp bat­tle

Pilbara News - - News - Tom Zaun­mayr

The fight for WA’s most pris­tine stretch of coast­line is heat­ing up as pas­toral­ists along the Nin­ga­loo Coast ac­cuse the State Govern­ment of dodgy tac­tics in gain­ing pub­lic opin­ion on fu­ture man­age­ment of the re­gion.

Nin­ga­loo and War­roora Sta­tion op­er­ate wilder­ness camp­ing along the coast­line but a draft man­age­ment plan put for­ward would see camp­ing ar­eas for­malised and in­fras­truc­ture such as ablu­tion blocks and board­walks con­structed.

The De­part­ment of Parks and Wildlife is run­ning a sur­vey but Phil Ken­drick, part­ner of Nin­ga­loo Sta­tion owner Jane Le­froy, said the tim­ing of it and lack of ques­tions re­gard­ing pre­ferred man­age­ment “smacked of bu­reau­cracy”.

“They’ve done it in the cy­clone sea­son when there are no tourists around,” he said.

“Cam­pers have com­plained to us be­cause a lot of them are se­nior cit­i­zens who don’t have com­put­ers (to fill it in on­line).”

Mr Ken­drick said the style of camp­ing at Nin­ga­loo and War­roora was a prod­uct not avail­able any­where else and should be left un­touched.

A DPaW spokes­woman said the cre­ation of pub­lic re­serves would en­sure ap­pro­pri­ate pro­tec­tion, pub­lic ac­cess, tourism devel­op­ment and po­ten­tial for Abo­rig­i­nal em­ploy­ment.

“This sur­vey is an op­por­tu­nity for the com­mu­nity to pro­vide in­for­ma­tion about what they value about the Nin­ga­loo Coast, the type of ex­pe­ri­ences they seek, the fa­cil­i­ties they cur­rently use and if there are any other ser­vices or fa­cil­i­ties that would en­hance or de­tract from their cur­rent ex­pe­ri­ence,” she said.

“All rev­enue re­ceived by the de­part­ment from camp­ing fees will be rein­vested into man­age­ment of the coast and em­ploy­ment op­por­tu­ni­ties, in­clud­ing an Abo­rig­i­nal Ranger pro­gram.

“The State Govern­ment will con­tinue to of­fer op­por­tu­ni­ties for the broader com­mu­nity and com­mer­cial busi­nesses, in­clud­ing neigh­bour­ing pas­toral­ists to be in­volved in man­ag­ing the coast.”

The spokes­woman said there were no plans for new camp­ing ar­eas, with the plan in­stead fo­cus­ing on up­grad­ing ex­ist­ing sites on an as-needed ba­sis.

Mr Ken­drick said there was no rea­son for the Govern­ment to take over man­age­ment of the coast­line, given how suc­cess­ful the pas­toral­ists had been to date.

“If you want fa­cil­i­ties, that is fine, go to places such as the national park, where there are com­mu­nal toi­lets, show­ers and bar­be­cues,” he said. “The In­ter­na­tional Union for the Con­ser­va­tion of Na­ture made it very clear we had kept it in very pris­tine con­di­tion, so why not al­low us to con­tinue look­ing after it, and at no cost to the tax­pay­ers.”

Lands Minister Terry Red­man said pas­toral leases were not an ap­pro­pri­ate land ten­ure for tourism and con­ser­va­tion pur­poses

“Suc­ces­sive State Gov­ern­ments have recog­nised the unique nat­u­ral beauty and eco­log­i­cal di­ver­sity of Western Aus­tralia’s Nin­ga­loo Coast, and have moved to se­cure pub­lic ac­cess to the coast now and into the fu­ture for all Western Aus­tralians,” he said. Mr Ken­drick said if suc­cess­ful, the plan would push three gen­er­a­tions of Le­froys into un­em­ploy­ment.

“By push­ing us out of here, we lose our house, we lose our shear­ing shed, we lose our in­come, we lose ev­ery­thing, and we get no com­pen­sa­tion,” he said.

Mr Ken­drick said the family would be open to turn­ing the sta­tion into a con­ser­va­tion re­serve, so long as they could keep their tourism ven­ture.

The DPaW sur­vey will be open un­til at least the end of Novem­ber and has so far re­ceived about 900 re­sponses.

Pic­ture: Tom Zaun­mayr

Phil Ken­drick, of Nin­ga­loo Sta­tion.

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