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Revealed: Plans to ban climbers from Mt Warning forever

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Hikers would be permanently banned from climbing Mt Warning between the Gold Coast and Byron Bay under an Uluru-like ban to be brought in next year, according to revelations in government documents.

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The distinctive peak, which sits in Wollumbin National Park in the top north east corner of NSW within easy travelling distance from the Gold Coast and Brisbane is a major tourist drawcard as the first place in mainland Australia to see the sunrise.

However, it has been controversially closed to tourists since March due to COVID-19 crowd limit restrictions.

Now, documents obtained under Freedom of Information by the pro-access Right to Climb group have revealed the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service plans to ban climbers permanently from Mt Warning.

In a blog post on Tuesday, Right to Climb spokesperson Marc Hendrickx published the FOI documents suggesting the park would not be re-opened.

The emails and documents detailed a “final Wollumbin Closure Event” for 25 November next year.

The final closure would follow a “deconstruction plan” that included removing summit lookouts.

Far from re-opening the park as hoped in May, NPWS intended to maintain its current off-limits state, Hendrickx said.

Wollumbin attracts around 100,000 tourists a year, many including the world-renowned sunrise hike in their south-east Queensland tourism itinerary.

The future of climbing Wollumbin, along with Mt Beerwah on the Sunshine Coast, has been fiercely debated since the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park Board of Management ordered climbers off Uluru in October 2019.

The Wollumbin park closure would affect the entire park that included both the Summit trail and the shorter Lyrebird Walk, Hendrickx said .

“Wollumbin National Park is one of our Nation’s true natural jewels and it is being treated as a political football by bureaucrats and Aboriginal groups,” Hendrickx said.

“They (NPWS) should hang their heads in shame at what they have done to this outstanding natural attraction that is owned by all Australians.”

Hendrickx, a geologist based at Berowra near Sydney, has been conducting an FOI campaign against the closure of the park and last Friday published an open letter to NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian arguing against shutting tourists out of “an iconic experience of the natural world and the Australian environment.”

Right to Climb also continues to campaign against the hiking trail closure at Uluru, listing 10 reasons to climb both Uluru and Mt Warning on its website. Hendrickx is the author of a book called A Guide to Climbing Ayers Rock.

 

 

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