26 October 2022
Point Perpendicular on the South Coast of NSW is a much-loved asset by many of the community and visitors alike, to conduct activities such as hiking, rock climbing, and highlining to name a few. Due to process changes for entry, combined with the lack of consultation with users, access may be at long term risk.
As a nation we are facing record levels of diabetes and obesity, record levels of screen usage and higher costs of healthcare and increased wait times for assistance, yet we all know that active recreation can go some way to reducing effects of these issues. Communities seek out these opportunities when they can and then restrictions like this stop people in their tracks.
Increased processes and restrictions for visitors to all areas outside of the lighthouse enclosure at Point Perpendicular have been imposed by the Department of Defence for the Beecroft Peninsula.
“We understand the challenges of the recent rain and subsequent need of the maintenance of roads, we also understand the exclusion zone in the weapons range but to remove access to areas that have been used by the community for such a long period makes no sense,” says Lori Modde CEO Outdoors NSW & ACT.
The Australian Climbing Association of NSW has shared the news with the climbing community, and they are extremely anxious that access be maintained as it is a well-known area for rock climbing. With over 700 established climbing routes across a vast 80m high cliff-line that stretches 14km along the northern side of Jervis Bay, it is one of the great sea cliff climbing destinations in the world – an international draw card that should be on every climber’s wish list.
Over 100 routes have been off-limits since the 1990s, when access was removed due to perceived safety risks associated with unexploded ordnance (UXO). A small area (10% of the total park) is used by Defence for testing bombs, missiles and other explosive devices. “Last weekends effective closure of recreation access seems to be centred around the risk of unexploded ordnance as this is what the new induction process focuses on. Of course safety is a priority but if the lighthouse area is safe to visit, then it should be safe to climb at” Says Vanessa Wills, Chair of the Australian Climbing Association of NSW.
Highlining is also a popular activity in this location and started there in the 2000s. “There are 25 highlining options on the peninsula and attract people from all around the world due to the stunning location” says Arthur Pera, President of the Australian Slacklining Association. “The quality of the rock assists in the preservation of the natural environment and enable us to highline without artificial structures.”
This area is in the Shoalhaven Local Government area but run by the Department of Defence. The Shoalhaven area is the highest visited local government area in regional Australia and the Christmas season is expected to be back at pre-pandemic levels. Tourism Australia indicated 75% of visitors to the Shoalhaven were there to conduct ‘nature-based experiences’, while Tourism Research Australia indicate there were just under 3 million visitors annually to the area pre-pandemic (ABS 2019).
Currently, all members of the public must agree to a new permission permit to enter and attend a compulsory induction before being allowed entry through the guarded security gates. “The cost of staff time for what benefit needs to be explored here, not to mention the stoppage of active recreation opportunities,” says Outdoors NSW & ACT.
For more information contact Outdoors NSW & ACT CEO, Lori Modde 0415 279 822
(Image courtesy of Australian Climbing Association of NSW)