Light to Light's future has locals concerned: 'Why sleep in cabins?'

GOOD TIMES: One of Pat Broder's memories of surfing crew at Saltwater back in the day. Photo supplied by Pat Broder
GOOD TIMES: One of Pat Broder's memories of surfing crew at Saltwater back in the day. Photo supplied by Pat Broder

Eden surfer Pat Broder has memories of surfing Saltwater at Ben Boyd National Park as a teenager in the 1970s, and he has favourable memories of camping there with his family even before then.

"It was one of Mum and Dad's favourite places," he said.

According to Mr Broder, 60, Saltwater Creek at the southern end of the national park has always been a place for everyone.

But all of that could be set to change, as a public leak of information from NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service's (NPWS) yet-to-be-released draft plans for the Light to Light walk have made many people furious.

Mr Broder said if the campground is shut down a culture of surfers and their families will go along with it.

"Saltwater is a popular meeting destination for surfers from as far down as Lakes Entrance and as high up as Ulladulla," he said.

"But not only that. I've met people and families that have come from all over the world to camp and surf there."

Speaking on behalf of the surfing community, he said every surfer he knows is against any sort of change.

"It's a disgusting use of privilege - Saltwater is a favourable popular destination for surfing in Australia," he said.

"If they close the road we won't be able to get in there, period, and that is shutting everybody out."

Mallacoota Boardrider Leo OpdenBrouw has also been camping at Saltwater since the track was pushed through in the early 1970s.

A scene along the Light to Light walk.

A scene along the Light to Light walk.

Going from what he knew of the draft plans he said it not only contradicted the purpose of national parks it would also generate "ill will" towards NPWS.

"To close access especially to Bittangabee and Saltwater for the exclusive use of the high-yield tourists will not only contradict National Parks' purpose of a place of enjoyment for all, it will also generate ill will towards the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service," he said.

Mallacoota self-sufficient adventurer and outdoor education teacher Joanne Greetham has been using the Light to Light walk with her family, students and as part of her regular self-sufficient training for over 20 years.

She believes the proposed plans are catering for comfort - the complete opposite as to why she enjoys hiking along the coastline.

"Why sleep in cabins?" she said.

Ms Greetham regularly hikes the walk carrying all of her gear including a tent in her backpack.

"It would just ruin the experience," she said.

"Being out in wilderness is part of the attraction. It's a chance to get away from it all and be in nature. I find the whole concept intrusive.

"There are plenty of places to have this sort of glamping experience, why do they need it here?"

Ms Greetham incorporates the 30km walk into her teaching program where students use the Light to Light walk as an overnight experience.

Having the cabins along the way would hinder the experience of camping overnight for the students, she said.

"Setting up camp up and sleeping under the stars is a huge part of the experience," she said.

"It gives the students a huge sense of satisfaction and shows them that it's achievable."

The NPWS told Australian Community Media they were unable to release the plans and did not confirm the date they will be released to the public.

A spokesperson for NPWS said the service will undertake public consultation on draft Light to Light plans.

"Once commenced, public exhibition will run for six weeks to ensure all interested people and groups have the opportunity to have their say," they said.

"NPWS will also be holding a number of targeted consultations with stakeholders and public information sessions during the consultation period to encourage all groups with special interests in this unique location to find out more about the draft plans and to provide their views."

Last June, it was announced the state government would invest $8million into the Light to Light walk.

The three-day hike between Boyd's Tower and Green Cape Lighthouse was one of several walks slated for improvement in the $630million announcement for NSW national parks.


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