Nature conservation

Parks, reserves and protected areas

Closure of Bonnie Vale Campground

Closure of campground in Bonnie Vale visitor precinct for old asbestos assessment and remediation

Bonnie Vale campground will be closed until further notice due to fragments of old asbestos containing material coming to the surface on the site.

Pedestrian access from Bundeena to Maianbar, across Cabbage Tree Basin will remain open, through a fenced pedestrian access path.

Bonnie Vale day picnic area and other facilities remain open for your enjoyment.

Thank you for your understanding and continued support of NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) as we work to resolve this issue.

Managing old asbestos at Bonnie Vale

Bonnie Vale has long been a popular holiday destination for families and outdoor recreation. From the 1930s to the 1950s the area contained more than 500 campsites and 170 cabins. These cabins were owner-built with wood, steel, and fibro sheeting made from asbestos. 

Over time, most of these cabins were demolished, resulting in a legacy of asbestos containing materials in the form of asbestos cement (‘fibro’) buried in the soil across the Bonnie Vale visitor precinct.

NPWS is working with relevant authorities, including the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) and NSW Health on this issue. Specialist contractors have been engaged by NPWS to monitor and assist in the management of asbestos containing material as fragments emerge from the soil across the site.

Recent drought conditions have reduced ground cover and increased soil erosion, leading to an increase in asbestos cement fragments coming to the surface in high traffic areas including the campground.

Inspections of the site indicate that fragments of asbestos containing material are emerging in the campground at a rate that requires a precautionary closure of the site. A specialist company will undertake a risk assessment, test for asbestos fibres in the air and provide recommendations for remediation options, to ensure the site remains safe for staff and visitors.

About asbestos

Asbestos is a term used to describe a group of mineral fibres that were historically used for a wide range of applications, including building materials. It is categorised as either friable or non-friable. The less common friable asbestos is more likely to become airborne, is more easily disturbed, and is more dangerous as it can be more easily inhaled and ingested.

Non-friable (bonded) asbestos, where it is mixed with other materials like cement, is most commonly found in the built environment. Please note: the asbestos material found at Bonnie Vale is in the form of asbestos cement (‘fibro’) and has been assessed as non-friable asbestos containing material.

Frequently asked questions

Campground closure

Why have you closed the Bonnie Vale campground?

The Bonnie Vale campground will be closed on Wednesday 19 September and will remain closed until further notice due to fragments of old asbestos containing material coming to the surface on the site. 

Recent drought conditions have reduced ground cover and increased soil erosion across the visitor precinct, leading to the increased appearance of fragments of old asbestos cement (fibro), particularly in high traffic areas such as the site’s campground.

The increased presence of fragments of asbestos cement requires the closure of the campground to allow a specialist company to undertake a risk assessment and provide recommendations for remediation options.  The risk assessment will include testing for asbestos fibers in the air. NPWS will seek advice from NSW Health once the assessment is completed.

When will the campground reopen?

The campground is closed until further notice. An extensive assessment process has been undertaken at the Campground and planning is underway for remediation of the site - this needs to be a carefully structured approach to ensure its longevity. It will not be reopened until appropriate remediation work can be undertaken to ensure the site remains safe for staff and visitors. We will have further information to release to the community soon.

I have a booking at the campground, what do I do?

We sincerely apologise for the inconvenience caused by closure of the campground.

Your booking will be cancelled, and a full refund will be provided via the payment method used when making your booking.

No action will be required from you at this point.  If we are not able to process the refund successfully, we will contact you.

We regret having to cancel your booking and disrupt your plans. Your safety is our highest priority.

For more information about this closure phone 02 9542 0632.

Will I be given an opportunity to re-book when the campground re-opens?

We will endeavour to give you the opportunity to re-book if you are affected by the campground closure and have had your booking cancelled.

The NPWS has kept a list of affected customers and once the assessment and remediation works are complete, you will receive an email with details on how to place a booking before the campground re-opens.

A re-opening date for the campground is currently unknown.

Why wasn’t I told of the closure at the time of my booking?

At the time of your booking, NPWS was monitoring and appropriately managing the exposure of limited amounts of old asbestos cement fragments on the site.

The recent increased exposure of these fragments, due to prolonged dry conditions, now requires the closure of the campground to allow a specialist company to undertake a risk assessment and provide recommendations for remediation options.

Why is it necessary to close the campground now?

Bonnie Vale visitor precinct is managed under an Asbestos Management Plan which includes clear indicators for when a change in management is required to ensure the site remains safe.

NPWS has been monitoring and closely managing a limited number of exposed fragments of old asbestos cement on the surface throughout the site.

Prolonged dry conditions have resulted in increased rates of exposure of this material and triggered a precautionary closure of the campground to allow a risk assessment and remediation to be undertaken.

The current asbestos management plan identifies that hand removal will not remain a viable approach to managing the level of contamination on site and recommends significant site remediation, requiring closure of the area.

Accessing other visitor facilities

Can I still visit other areas of Bonnie Vale?

The campground is closed to public access.  All other visitor facilities remain open and accessible to the community to enjoy.

Pedestrian access from Bundeena to Maianbar, across Cabbage Tree Basin, remains open through a fenced pedestrian access path.

NPWS will clearly communicate closed areas through signage, information leaflets and web information.

NPWS is working with relevant authorities, including the Environment Protection Authority, and specialist asbestos companies, to monitor and manage asbestos-containing material as it emerges across the site.

Are there areas I shouldn't go on the site? How will I know?

Closed areas will be clearly communicated via signage, information leaflets and web information.

Pedestrian access from Bundeena to Maianbar, across Cabbage Tree Basin, remains open through a fenced pedestrian access path.

Can I still access my cabin at Bonnie Vale?

Access to the cabins will be possible under specific conditions. NPWS is working with cabin owners to ensure they are well informed of the management strategies for managing asbestos at Bonnie Vale.

Asbestos at Bonnie Vale

I live next to Bonnie Vale / I have camped at Bonnie Vale / I have visited Bonnie Vale - should I be concerned?

NSW Health has advised that asbestos containing material is not a risk if it is undisturbed. Exposure to non-friable asbestos is a low risk to health, as it is only airborne fibres that are known to be a health risk.

Because the asbestos containing material on the Bonnie Vale site is in the form of asbestos cement (fibro) and is mostly underground, the health risk is very low.

This NSW Health factsheet contains information on asbestos and health risks.

Why am I only just hearing about asbestos at Bonnie Vale?

Bonnie Vale has long been a popular holiday destination for families and outdoor recreation. From the 1930s to the 1950s the area contained more than 500 campsites and 170 cabins. These cabins were owner-built with wood, steel, and fibro sheeting made from asbestos.

Over time, most of these cabins were demolished, resulting in a legacy of asbestos containing materials in the form of asbestos cement (‘fibro’) buried in the soil across the Bonnie Vale visitor precinct.

An assessment in 2008 found the asbestos was non-friable asbestos cement (fibro) contained in sub-surface soil layers, and therefore a low risk to human health. An asbestos management plan was developed in 2008 to manage the presence of asbestos on the site. As it was assessed as low risk, a monitoring program was considered sufficient to effectively manage the asbestos, until now.

Recent prolonged dry conditions have reduced ground cover and increased soil erosion across the visitor precinct, leading to increased exposure of fragments of asbestos cement, particularly in high traffic areas such as the site’s campground.

The increased exposure of fragments of asbestos cement has triggered the precautionary closure of the campground to allow a specialist company to undertake a further risk assessment and provide recommendations for remediation options.

Could I be in danger during any remediation work at Bonnie Vale?

NSW Health advises that asbestos containing material is not a risk if it is undisturbed. Exposure to non-friable asbestos is a low risk to health, as it is only airborne fibres that are known to be a health risk.

Because the asbestos containing material on the Bonnie Vale site is in the form of non-friable asbestos cement (fibro) and is mostly underground, the health risk is very low.

Our primary concern is the health and wellbeing of staff, neighbours and visitors. 

Any asbestos remediation works on site will be undertaken by staff and contractors who will ensure that all necessary mitigation and safety procedures are in place to ensure any asbestos fibres present do not become airborne.

What do I do if I find material on site that I think is asbestos?

Do not pick up or disturb any material which you suspect may contain asbestos. Leave any suspicious material where it lies and notify NPWS through the phone number 02 9542 0632.

What is asbestos? What type of asbestos in in the soil at Bonnie Vale?

Asbestos is a term used to describe a group of mineral fibers that were historically used for a wide range of applications, including building materials.

Asbestos is categorised as either friable or non-friable. Non-friable asbestos, where it is mixed with other materials like cement, is most commonly found in the built environment. Friable asbestos is more likely to become airborne and is easily disturbed, making it more dangerous as it can be more easily inhaled and ingested.

The asbestos material found at Bonnie Vale has been assessed as non-friable asbestos cement (fibro).

How long has NPWS known there was asbestos on the site?

Bonnie Vale has long been a popular holiday destination for families and outdoor recreation. From the 1930s to the 1950s the area contained more than 500 campsites and 170 cabins. These cabins were owner-built with wood, steel, and fibro sheeting made from asbestos. 

Over time, most of these cabins were demolished, resulting in a legacy of asbestos containing materials in the form of asbestos cement (‘fibro’) buried in the soil across the Bonnie Vale visitor precinct.

An Asbestos Management Plan was developed in 2008 to inform how to safely manage the site. Management recommendations were primarily around monitoring as the risk was low due to the asbestos being bonded in asbestos cement (fibro) and contained underground.

In recent months, the frequency of inspections has increased due to an increased presence of fragments of asbestos cement coming to the ground surface after weather events, including an extended dry period. 

The current Asbestos Management Plan (2018) identifies that hand removal will not remain a viable approach to managing the level of contamination across the Bonnie Vale visitor precinct and recommends site remediation, which may require closure of areas under such work.

How did the asbestos on the Bonnie Vale site get there?

Asbestos at Bonnie Vale is a legacy of a once thriving holiday village from the 1930’s containing around 170 fibro cabins. Only eight of these cabins remain onsite.

Historically, the cabins were demolished when they became unoccupied. As a result of this demolition process some fragments of asbestos containing material were buried under the ground.

Where can I get more information?

For more information about this closure phone 02 9542 0632.

For information on health risk due to asbestos go to NSW Health: Asbestos and health risks

Further advice concerning the health risks of asbestos can be obtained from your local public health unit on 1300 066 055.

General information on asbestos can be obtained from Work​Cover.

Page last updated: 05 November 2019