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Botany Bay to Illawarra - a new "Great Walk" for NSW?

PostPosted: Mon 14 Jun, 2021 10:46 am
by Allchin09
An article in the SMH today introducing a "Great Southern Walk" which the NSW government are planning to announce funding for in the state budget next week.

It looks like it mostly follows existing tracks between Botany Bay and "Southern Gateway Centre" (which is a bit south of Sublime point).
There's a map in the article which includes possible accomidation sites and view points.

Interestingly, "accomodiation" (which I assume = glamping, or maybe even something more?) is shown at both Garie and Wattamolla, where it currently doesn't exist. Madden Plains is bracked as "possible accomodation site" and there are already existing camping at Bonnie Vale, although no public cabins there.

The long awaited draft Plan of Management for Royal NP is currently on exhibition and as far as I can tell doesn't take this iniative into account, let alone accomodation at Garie and Wattamolla, so will be interesting to see a detailed proposal of that they plan do do.

Also, from the map (but not mentioned in the article) they might be making use of the old Otford to Stanwell Park train tunnel. This would be great if they do, as it's a pretty unique feature and would benefit from being easily publically accessible.

Overall, I don't have too many concerns about the proposal, mostly just what form the in-park "accomodation" takes at Garie and Wattamolla. Also, the Coast Track comprises a large part of the route, and it's already very busy. I'm not sure it really needs extra attention! The main problem I find is that the new elevated walkways that have now been installed for much of the length are relatively narrow and it can be a little tricky in places to pass people who are coming in the other direction. Making it all "dual carriageway" width would help reduce this problem.

Finally, the article mentions a "second multi-day walk will be announced in the coming months" which I'd be keen to learn more about. Just hoping they stay away from the wilderness. I'm not sure what level of community consultation is involved with these sorts of proposals and they generally seem hard to stop once in motion, so lets hope what they are thinking is appropriate!


Re: Botany Bay to Illawarra - a new "Great Walk" for NSW?

PostPosted: Mon 14 Jun, 2021 11:22 am
by FatCanyoner
Totally agree that the development of these "great walks" style tracks is less concerning when in non-wilderness areas with extensive existing use.

It will be interesting to see what is proposed in relation to camping, and whether we see a repeat of what has happened in other parts of the country where the development of these walks has come with attempts to create exclusive commercial arrangements, where cashed-up walkers are given priority, and normal bushwalkers have restricted access or are even excluded from some tracks and camping areas.

As always, the devil will be in the detail...

Re: Botany Bay to Illawarra - a new "Great Walk" for NSW?

PostPosted: Tue 15 Jun, 2021 6:39 am
by Xplora
I think this comment at the end of the story sums it all up.

I'm looking forward to other multi-day walks being created. We have a lot of interesting places in the state.

People with no idea will do these walks and if it keeps them away from wilderness areas then that is a good thing. They will also think they are in the wilderness. Many of the comments were favourable but clearly from people who just want to do it easy. Nothing wrong with that as long as the rest, who cannot afford the glamping, are not excluded. Good vehicle access to camp areas means glamping can be setup and pulled down. I can see it being a good thing for older walkers also. I objected strongly to proposals for the Falls to Hotham walk but this could be different. We would have to wait for the plan.

Re: Botany Bay to Illawarra - a new "Great Walk" for NSW?

PostPosted: Tue 15 Jun, 2021 7:08 am
by Nuts
Private accommodation in reserves is a real concern wherever it happens. Benign or degraded today and a wild remote peak tomorrow.

I'm trying to comprehend the part about 'competing with Tasmania'. Where in the National Parks act are our park services charged with being 'competitive'?

Re: Botany Bay to Illawarra - a new "Great Walk" for NSW?

PostPosted: Wed 16 Jun, 2021 7:48 am
by Xplora
I would also object to hard roof accommodation being built in public parks but this walk can be done with portable glamping type accommodation. Vehicle access is easy and no need for helicopters.

Re: Botany Bay to Illawarra - a new "Great Walk" for NSW?

PostPosted: Wed 16 Jun, 2021 8:47 am
by Walk_fat boy_walk
Hopefully not the thin end of the wedge. I think there might end up being a few of these... there's already huts in Ben Boyd in the pipeline, so maybe that's one of them? I also recall when NSW govt commissioned a study of this a few years back Kanangra to Katoomba was being mooted as being upgraded to great walk standard (there was a discussion here somewhere?)... hopefully just a thought bubble that has since popped!

Like many I have mixed feelings about all of this whether or not building these types of things in "non-wilderness" parts of parks is OK or not, I really don't know if there's an appropriate balance that can be struck. You could argue that it opens the bush up for "less able" people but in the same breath argue that conservation principles shouldn't be compromised for any perceived benefit... personally sit at the latter end of that spectrum. Could also argue that the NZ model is a good one but others might say that's an abomination? Would definitely strongly object to any such developments in wilderness areas. Part of what I like about NSW parks is their complete lack of any development in such areas... some argue that's attributable to lack of funding/interest by government, but whether or not that's the case or if it's just pure hands-off conservation, the outcome is vast areas of awesome off track or lightly (unmaintained) tracked wilderness. Hopefully it stays that way.

Back on topic, whether or not it appropriate from a conservation perspective, the "great southern walk" sounds like a bit of a yawn.

Re: Botany Bay to Illawarra - a new "Great Walk" for NSW?

PostPosted: Wed 16 Jun, 2021 11:58 am
by FionaShedden
Yes many of my freinds who aren't hikers are quite excited, but I also have mixed feelings. THB it's a bit of a ho-hum announcement for most hikers as you can already do most of this walk without any real troubles. Interestingly both Watamolla and Garie had old campsites on the coast walk that were abandonded/closed many years ago leaving only north Era so already pretty degraded.

The five day 59km aligns with current thinking (re Light-to-light proposal and other commercial proposals) that less seasoned walkers can only walk about 10-12km in a day so clearly new accomodation on coast walk is required to fit this bill.

I only really see a couple of concerns with this:
1. is this just a door opener to more remote areas, L-2-L revelopemnt etc. I think this is the real worry about these types of developments - they just whet the appetite for more to be done.
2. Will they still allow the Plebs who want to camp to camp at existing campsites, (or will it be similar to L-2-L where camping is going to be severley restricted). Ie what happens to current North Era site and is it still available?
3. one of the big pro's to current coast walk is the access to Public transoprt from each end. There is no public transport at the Southern Gateway so then i guess it will be down sublime track to Austinmer