NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service has released an amended Light to Light Strategy for the famous walk that runs from Ben Boyd Tower to Green Cape Lightstation. A revised Plan of Management has been adopted for Ben Boyd National Park, a report said.
It was announced in June 2018 that $8m would be allocated to the development of the walk. By December 2018, there was talk of making it one of Australia’s Great Walks.
Naomi Stephens, NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS), executive director, stated that the amendment and Light to Light Strategy outlined long-term plans for the region’s iconic attraction.
“NPWS will now proceed with plans to transform Ben Boyd National Park’s existing Light to Light Walkthrough Ben Boyd National Park to a stunning, uninterrupted 30-kilometer coast track with purpose-built hut accommodation along the route,” Ms. Stephens stated.
After submissions close in August 2019, the newly updated Light to Light Strategy recognizes three areas of concern that were raised by community feedback: the loss of remote walk-in camping opportunities, privatization of on-park accommodation, and availability at Green Cape Lightstation.
NPWS stated that it will create a low-key, walk-in-only campground at Mowarry Point as well as a new campground at Bittangabee Bay to accommodate walkers.
Bittangabee Bay campsite was affected by the 2019/2020 bushfires. NPWS stated that the campground would be upgraded and will include designated walk-in areas for Light to Light pack walker.
Ms. Stephens stated that the walk would be improved in stages, starting with two eco-hut sites at Mowarry Point or Hegarty’s Bay. These will provide comfort stops along the route.
“The first stage includes the upgrade of Mowarry Point’s informal campground to create a purpose-built, walk-in campsite with new tent platforms, toilet, and a Bittangabee Bay campsite.”
A spokesperson for Ben Boyd Light to Light Community Action Group stated that eco huts are a misnomer.
“This is accommodation for 36 persons with toilets and showers. Where does the wastewater go anyway? These are housing complexes,” said the spokesperson.
NPWS stated that the walk would continue to be a public walking route and that all accommodation would be managed through privatization.
A spokesperson for the community action group said that it was important that local businesses participate in the walk.
NPWS stated that it is committed to ending lease arrangements for accommodation. The organization stated that this means that NPWS will be responsible for all accommodation in Light to Light Walk.
However, the strategy indicates that people who take part in the walk will be charged.
NPWS stated that it will offer short-stay casual bookings at Green Cape Lightstation to visitors who do not walk the route for a minimum of four weeks each year.
A spokesperson for the group also pointed out the absence of an environmental impact report and cultural and heritage assessments, even though the NPWS stated that it would be available within the next weeks and was available for comment.
The project’s first phase is expected to be completed by December 2022.
During the public exhibition of the draft Plan of Management Amendment and draft Light to Light Strategy, more than 200 submissions were received by NPWS.
The Stakeholder Reference Group will consist of approximately 10 representatives from industry, government, and community groups.
NPWS stated that it would contact relevant groups this week in order to invite them to join.
John Barilaro, Deputy Premier and Minister of Regional NSW, stated that funding from the Regional Growth-Environment and Tourism Fund would allow for new infrastructure for tourism. This includes overnight accommodation for walkers.