Environmental terrorism declared on Bushcare sites

Flattened trees and shrubs at Waniora Point, Bulli.


ENVIRONMENTAL terrorism has been declared on Bushcare sites in the Bulli area with a determined assault on beachside plantings, threatening sensitive coastal vegetation and destroying years of voluntary work.

The Bulli Times can reveal that a coordinated assault by a group of local residents has been underway on bushland restoration work from Waniora Point, north to McCauley’s Beach for a number of years.

The residents, who have been identified to The Bulli Times, are waging war on the Bushcare sites, claiming the trees and shrubs block views.

Although the systematic vandalism has occurred for a number of years, the extent of the latest attacks has shocked environmentalists, who have in the past refused to comment in fear of inflaming the problem.

A Banksia gets the chop at Sandon Point

Sandon Point Bushcare coordinator Marcel Van Wijk said he reluctantly has decided to talk to The Bulli Times in the hope of prompting authorities to act on the problem. The veteran environmentalist said ultimately the continuing vandalism is a management issue that needs to be addressed by those in authority.

The latest vandalism includes:

  • Waniora headland: northern embankment where coastal wattles and other shrubs have been hacked down.
  • Sandon Point Beach: Dune fencing wiring was cut around February this year.
  • Sandon Point headland: Embankment above boatsheds, trees cut down over the past month.
  • Sandon Point headland amphitheatre: Trees given the chop around March and April this year.
  • Tramway Creek, next to the ‘Sandon Views’ Estate: Eucalypts
    have been ring barked.
  • South Thirroul Beach: Aboriginal Burial Grounds – some 30 trees have been drilled and poisoned.

Mr Van Wijk said the vandalised sites have received Wollongong City Council support in terms of Bushcare and/or contract works. He said Sandon Point headland and McCauley’s Beach is a declared Aboriginal Place of State Significance, while Waniora headland is also a known midden site, warranting further protection.

“Additionally these sites have also received funding from a various state and federal agencies in order to restore and protect the cultural and environmental heritage of theses areas,” he said.

Mr Van Wijk said in recent years an element of negativity has emerged regarding the coastal wattle and the plants’ role as a sand binding plant. He said another issue relating to the vandalism is the perception of the “ownership” of an ocean view.

”There are far more pressing environmental and cultural values at stake at Sandon Point that far outweigh someone’s view of the ocean, particularly when these individuals can go for a little walk and see it anyway.”

A ring barked Eucalypt at Tramway Creek.

Wollongong City Council confirmed it has received numerous complaints of vandalism to native trees and vegetation at multiple sites in the Bulli area.

“We’re currently investigating these complaints,” a spokesperson said.

“Unfortunately, the nature of tree vandalism on public land is difficult to police.”

Council said it has advised the Office of Environment and Heritage of the vandalism within the Sandon Point Aboriginal Place.

Under the Local Government Act, people can be fined up to $2,200 if they “wilfully or negligently injure damage or unnecessarily disturb any plant, animal, rock or soil in a public place”.

A complaint also relates to an area which has been declared an Aboriginal Place under the National Parks and Wildlife Act. An individual found to have ‘harmed’ or ‘desecrated’ an Aboriginal Place could incur a maximum penalty of $550,000 and/or two years imprisonment.

A plan of management is currently being prepared for the Council-owned land at Sandon Point. This document will include a draft vegetation management plan.

Vandalism can be reported to police or Council on (02) 4227 7111.

About Mick Roberts

A Sydney journalist, writer and historian, Mick Roberts specialises in Australian cultural history, particularly associated with the Australian hotel and liquor industry. Mick has had an interest in revealing the colourful story of pubs, inns and associated industries in Australia for over 30 years. He is currently working on a comprehensive history of the hotel and liquor industry in the Illawarra region of NSW. Besides writing a number of history books, Mick has owned and managed several community newspapers. He was one time editor of the Wollongong Northern News, The Bulli Times, The Northern Times, The Northern Leader and The Local - all located in the Wollongong region. As a journalist he has worked for Rural Press, Cumberland (News Limited), Sydney based, City News, and Torch Publications based in Canterbury Bankstown, NSW. He currently calls the inner-Sydney suburb of Surry Hills home.


5 thoughts on “Environmental terrorism declared on Bushcare sites

  1. Good work Bulli Times. This is a longterm problem in which some residents blame trees and Bushcare planting for all kinds of problems – but all they really care about is their ‘view’ which they don’t own. They are selfish people who only care about themselves and not the future of their children or the planet.
    Stockland residents are on sacred Aboriginal land that was sold by Sydney Water to Stockland helped by Wollongong Council, knowing there was a significant Aboriginal Kuradji burial on the land. It was an outrage that still echoes at Sandon Point and the bad karma of stockland residents is entirely their own fault since they were told by the community and Sandon Point Aboriginal Tent Embassy who are in court again today trying to stop further desecration of the community’s Wilkies Walk and Council land.


    Posted by Jill Walker | June 21, 2012, 1:29 am
  2. People come to the Illawarra in part because of its spectacular views. Planting out these views is in itself a crime. There would be no debate about tree vandalism had Vista Blocking Vegetation not been planted in the first place!

    Those involved in the Environmental Restoration and Rehabilitation Community Grants Program need to be held to account. Page 8, Para B3.2 Dot point 2, of that Program clearly states “an assurance is given that only low growing appropriate local plant species will be planted where loss of views are deemed to be a potential issue”.

    Hundreds of Illawarra residents and others from around the country have signed a petition calling for the reinstatement of Vistas and Views from private and public amenities. The loss of iconic ocean views because of uncontrolled inconsiderate Green Groups planting tall trees in the name of the Environment are themselves environmental vandals. Visit and sign the petition

    Dunes can be stabilised with low shrubs and grasses, not eighty foot tall gum trees.

    Vistas from public and private amenities should be protected, and property owners should be entitled to the protection of their ‘views’. After all, they paid (dearly) for the view, they continue to pay higher rates because of the view, the Valuer-General values property higher because of its views, Council happily charges higher rates for these views, therefore those owners should HAVE the view that they are paying for. What right does Council, or any minority group have to come along and rob them of those vistas?

    Wollongong Development Control Plan 2009, reproduced in part below goes to great lengths to identify that indeed a value is placed upon a View (Para 11.8.3). It outlines many considerations that man-made developments must adhere to in order to ensure that compromises to views are considered when someone decides to build something.

    Why are not these same considerations given to (and controls placed upon) the planting of vegetation?
    DCP 2009

    11.8 View Sharing
    11.8.1 General
    1. New development and alterations and additions to existing development must be designed to
    maximise view sharing opportunities from neighbouring dwellings and to minimise potential view loss.
    2. “View sharing” concerns the equitable distribution of views between properties. The view sharing
    principles outlined in this part of the DCP consider the equitable distribution of views between
    properties. The view sharing principles seek to strike a reasonable balance between facilitating new
    development and alterations and additions to existing development, whilst preserving as far as
    practical, access to views from surrounding properties.
    11.8.2 Objectives
    (a) To encourage view sharing from adjoining or nearby properties, public places, and new development.
    (b) To protect and enhance significant view corridors from public places.
    (c) To encourage the siting and design of new buildings which open up significant views from public
    11.8.3 View Assessment Process
    1. The four (4) step view assessment process applied in this part of the DCP is based on the
    established planning principle outlined in the NSW Land & Environment Court judgment in Tenacity
    Consulting v Warringah, Roseth, SC [2004] (NSW LEC 140 7 April 2004), namely:
    (a) Assessment of views likely to be affected – Water views are generally more highly valued than
    land views. Iconic views (e.g. Wollongong Harbour / Lighthouse, northern Illawarra coastline,
    Sea Cliff Bridge, views across the sea towards Five Islands etc.) are more valued than views
    without icons. Whole views are valued more highly than partial views (egg a water view in which
    the interface between land and water is visible is more valuable than one in which it is


    Posted by Simon | July 18, 2012, 4:02 am
  3. Look at that pic above of Waniora Point…why the hell would they plant anything there? It is quite apparent that that part of the knoll is already stabilised with grasses. Anyone who has ever ventured to Sea Salt Cafe and bought a burger, taken it to that location to sit, eat and enjoy the view will know that the vista from that location is one of the most spectacular along the coast. Why do they want to plant it out? This is another case of ill conceived, un-regulated plantings. You cannot just give out a Grant for $50,000 and say, here you go, here’s 100,000 saplings…go and plant them, without some form of Regulation. I believe it’s high time Wollongong Council took a long hard look at what is being destroyed along our multi-million dollar income producing coastline (i.e. the Vistas and Views, the tourist drawcards) and start regulating Bushcare. Look out Sea Salt Cafe…if they get their way they’ll have planted out that whole knoll and in 10 years your draw card will no longer exist.

    As for Jill Walkers comments “…but all they really care about is their ‘view’ which they don’t own. They are selfish people…”, is she so selfish that she is prepared to deprive our children of the beauty that this coastline has to offer by enshrouding it in a wall of vegetation. There is a reason why we have cycle ways close to the beach, Lookouts, Bench Seats and Picnic Tables strategically dotted along the coast. It’s not just a handful of coastal property owners who are affected by this outrage. Yet they are the ones who by virtue of living by the coast who can see the changes occurring on a daily basis are generally the ones to first ‘raise the alarm”. When they do, they are made out to be ‘fat cats’ who care for nothing except their own selfish needs and they are the first to be blamed for vandalism. Well I am sorry Jill, but there are many, many people who use these very public facilities who make no claim to owning a view…they purely and simply JUST WANT TO HAVE A VIEW.


    Posted by Simon | July 18, 2012, 10:57 am
  4. Most of the residents of the Northern suburbs are aware of the vandalism and irresponsibility of people who continue to plant the wrong species of vegetation in the wrong places. At the meeting of Wollongong City Council last week (Monday 9th July) the Lord Mayor Gordon Bradbury and the councillors had lengthy discussions on the planting of wrong species including acacia sophorae along what was once a beautiful foreshore. This coastal wattle, although an Australian native, is no more a native to our foreshores as lantana and bittou bush. These and other species have destroyed our beaches and dunal areas. Council is currently planning to remove all of these noxious weeds and anyone who “cannot see the wood for the trees” and continues to spread wattle weeds is the vandal. Would those irresponsible people who claim to be “green” plant unsuitable vegetation on their own property? True “Greenies” are responsible people who carry out proper research to ensure that they are not interfering with nature, and would consult experts and the local community before destroying the landscape. If you were to plant trees that would remove the beautiful coastal views from public land, then you are removing the public amenity of ocean/beach vistas. The trees & bushes planted in front of the viewing seat at Sandon Point is a classic example of WRONG. I have not seen any evidence of Eucalyptus trees or acacia sophorae growing in the Bulli – Sandon Point area prior to this ill-informed interference with nature. I believe that it would be wise to carry out some extensive research before any more weeds are planted that will eventually cost Council and ratepayers a lot of money to remove.
    Cr. Merrin makes reference to people risking fines by vandalising vegetation. I pose this thought: Should those involved in indiscriminate planting of known “weeds”, coastal wattle, be fined for damaging our delicate landscape. These weeds are costing Council (that’s you and me) a lot of money to eradicate.


    Posted by Michael | July 18, 2012, 11:40 am
  5. They are selfish people who only care about themselves and not the future of their children or the planet.

    Please, if you want to plant trees to save the kid’s and planet find another place and leave the views to be enjoyed by my kids and tourists for the future. I question who is selfish as this is a big country and I’m sure there must be acres of land in need of trees before we destroy or beautiful views that have been enjoyed for years.


    Posted by david | July 19, 2012, 2:59 am

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