By MICK ROBERTS.
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.
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.”
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.