That’s according to Greens Councillor Mithra Cox who says the cost-cutting is affecting local residents, our bushland is suffering and deer and weeds are spreading through our fragile ecosystem.
Mithra says Austinmer residents are being ‘parked out’ because of the huge volume of walkers using Sublime Point, when there are many other equally-beautiful local walks which are not promoted or maintained because of a lack of funding.
“Residents in Austinmer are being parked out because of the huge volume of walkers using the Sublime Point track,” says Mithra. “There are so many other amazing bushwalks in the Illawarra escarpment, but there are no maps, no signposts and the tracks are not properly maintained,”.
“The Ken Ausburn track, which goes from behind Wollongong uni up to the Mt Keira summit was built by Council in 1996, with agreement from the landholders – BHP Billiton and Wollongong University. Ownership of the top half of the track was handed to National Parks. However, National Parks have no resources to manage the track, the lookout has been removed and the track has fallen into disrepair.
“The Mount Keira Ring Track has been shut indefinitely since a rockfall in 2015.
“We could connect up the walking trails between the Royal National Park, the Illawarra Escarpment and Morton National Park for a world class multi-day hike through some of the most spectacular rainforest in the country.
“Instead, people from Wollongong fly to Tasmania or New Zealand for to go hiking because there’s not enough funding in NSW to replace some timber stairs, let alone to have a grand vision for nature tourism in the Illawarra.
“The Liberal Government has slashed funding so severely from National Parks they cannot even maintain the modest walking tracks that used to be open to the public.
“The NSW Liberal Government boasts of a $4.5 billion surplus, but it has come at a heavy price for our public assets that have either been sold or severely underfunded,” Ms Cox said.
To protest the cuts, a rally will be held tomorrow- October 19- outside 84 Crown Street in Wollongong.