Due to the need for emergency maintenance, the NPWS has closed roads from the Princes Highway accessing Mumbulla creek falls, a popular summer tourist destination in Biamanga NP. At an otherwise quiet time for government employees, last Monday ABC radio announcer Tim Holt talked about his excursion to the falls during the festive season. With grand children in tow, he said the condition of Clarkes and Mumbulla trig roads, that provide access to the falls from the highway, were the worst he’d seen in 40 years.
Next day, the Bega District News printed a press release (?), citing NPWS area manager for the Central Area Preston Cope. According to Mr Cope ” . . . some roads leading to or within Biamanga and Mimosa Rocks National Parks have had to be temporarily closed to all traffic following damage sustained by storm events and heavy rain last December and in recent days”
Interestingly, the roads the NPWS has closed are mostly within Mumbulla State Forest.
After many years of absence, late last year, just prior to the heavy rain in December, FCNSW did grade some of the roads in Mumbulla SF. As indicated on map below, most of the recent road grading seems to have been constrained the roads, highlighted in yellow, accessing the falls from the coast and Mimosa rocks NP. These roads account for about half of all roads in Mumbulla, the other roads and fire-trails have not been maintained and many are in a poor state, or blocked with fallen trees.
In the same area as the closed roads, and also indicated on the map within the ellipse, is where Biamanga Aboriginal Place overlaps with Mumbulla State Forest, in compartments 2133 and 2135. The location of FCSW’s illegal logging operations and prolonged community protests early this decade, the operations were eventually stopped, but the Harvesting Plan remains on FCNSW’s website.
So unless there is some arrangement between the NPWS and FCNSW regarding road maintenance, that excludes the EPA, there seems no reason why FCNSW would not retain responsibility for grading these particular roads.
The other issue is efficiency, as all involved, Council, NPWS and FCNSW have the equipment, but this duplication doesn’t ensure maintenance is undertaken. With the trend toward continuous improvement, and a greater emphasis on social, environmental and economic balance, inefficient activities funded from the public purse are a concern that should be addressed.
ABC radio’s Tim Holt also expressed surprise at the number of people at Mumbulla falls, a sacred Aboriginal site. Currently, the NPWS advertises Mumbulla falls on its website as the only tourist attraction in Biamanga NP. FCNSW have no tourist attractions in Mumbulla or Murrah State Forest.
Also on the map (green hatch) are the promised logging exclusion areas for koalas. If a greater emphasis were placed on social, environmental and economic balance, it’s likely these areas, like the falls, would be considered within a more holistic framework. .
While such notions are rejected by the agencies, there isn’t much environmental benefit from current arrangements, and the allocation of public funds for the NPWS to maintain FCNSW’s roads could be seen as yet another subsidy. If environmental benefits were more of a consideration, public funds could be more gainfully employed and changes to both would only improve social outcomes.