Draft Light to Light Walk Strategy: Public Consultation

National Parks and Wildlife Service is seeking public comments on the Draft Light to Light Walk Strategy.

The Draft Light to Light Walk Strategy is available for review and comment until 26 August 2019.

Public exhibition of the Draft Light to Light Walk Strategy provides an important opportunity for members of the community to have a say in the management of the Light to Light Walk in Ben Boyd National Park.

In 2018 the NSW Government announced funding to significantly enhance visitor facilities and create iconic experiences, including new walking tracks, in a number of national parks across the State. These projects are part of the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) Visitor Infrastructure Program and aim to increase nature-based tourism in New South Wales, boost regional economies and improve community wellbeing. This project is funded by the Regional Growth – Environment and Tourism Fund (RGETF) and is described on our walking tracks and trails in national parks pages.

The Light to Light Walk Strategy has been developed to guide the development of the Light to Light Walk to upgrade and realign sections of the track, and provide overnight accommodation for walkers. It will be a world class, wild and remote 4-day experience along the coast of one of the State's most spectacular parks with eco-designed, environmentally sensitive accommodation along the way.

The strategy outlines the nature and design principles of the proposed upgrade to the Light to Light Walk and identifies the assessment and approvals required to ensure compliance with the park's plan of management and relevant conservation management plans. Stringent environmental, cultural heritage and cost-benefit assessments, involving our staff, key stakeholders and other experts, will ensure the project meets environmental, cultural and economic goals.

Some of the works proposed in the strategy require an amendment to the plan of management. The draft plan of management amendment is also available for public comment. The final strategy and the amended plan of management will take account of all submissions received and of environmental and cultural heritage assessments and development approvals.

What's the project timeline, when will works start and be completed?

Planning for the Light to Light Walk has commenced. We are currently undertaking the plan of management amendment and walking track strategy consultation which will also inform the detailed design and approvals phase. Feedback received will be considered carefully in finalising the plans and further public engagement will occur. Construction on the project will commence in the coming year. It is anticipated that the project will be completed by 2021.

When will the Light to Light Walk open to visitors?

The project is due for completion in 2021.

Why did you need to change the Walk, it is already a beautiful walk?

The existing Light to Light Walk is beautiful. The proposed changes will accommodate increasing demand and enhance the experience to bring it up to become a world-class coastal walk. The improvements aim to diminish the perceived barriers by some visitors to undertaking a multi-day walk in a remote national park. The Light to Light Walk will provide the opportunity to do the walk without taking a heavy backpack or having to buy all the necessary equipment, including a large pack, cooking equipment, or a tent and will instead allow walkers to stay in comfortable hut or established tent accommodation.

The improvements are being carefully planned to ensure the walk increases awareness of, and minimises impact on the environmental and cultural values of the national park.

What is the Light to Light Walk experience?

The Light to Light Walk will offer 2 walking experiences in Ben Boyd National Park:

  1. A 3-night/4-day experience with hard-roofed accommodation (Mowarry/Hegarty's/Green Cape Lightstation) only bookable online.
  2. A 2-night/3-day experience with campground accommodation (Saltwater Creek and Bittangabee) only bookable online.

What are the options for accommodation?

Accommodation at Mowarry Point and Hegartys Bay will consist of hut and tented accommodation for 36 walkers. The mix and configuration of shared bunk and separate twin/double accommodation is yet to be finalised. The existing accommodation at Green Cape Lightstation will be reconfigured to accommodate 36 walkers, with arrangements similar to the hut sites. Camping is available at the Saltwater Creek and Bittangabee campgrounds for those walkers not staying at hut sites (including Green Cape Lightstation).

Why will National Parks and Wildlife Service stop pack camping at Mowarry Point and Hegartys Bay?

To improve the walker experience and address the environmental impacts of pack camping and other informal camping (camping where no facilities exist) pack camping will no longer be permitted on the Light to Light Walk. This includes pack camping at Leather Jacket Bay, Mowarry Point and Hegartys Bay.

Increased capacity for tent-only camping is planned for Saltwater and Bittangabee campgrounds. School groups and other larger groups will also be accommodated at these sites. Car-based camping will continue to be available at Saltwater and Bittangabee campgrounds. Day use at Leather Jacket Bay, Mowarry Point and Hegartys Bay will continue to be available.

Are National Parks and Wildlife Service closing vehicle access to Saltwater and Bittangabee?

Vehicle access to Saltwater and Bittangabee will not change. Day visitors and campers will still be able to access this area by car.

Car-based camping will continue to be available at Saltwater and Bittangabee.

Increased capacity for tent-only camping is planned for Saltwater and Bittangabee camp grounds. School groups and other larger groups will also be accommodated at these sites. Day use at Leather Jacket Bay, Mowarry Point and Hegartys Bay will continue to be available.

I'm a regular fisher person to Pulpit Rock – the Strategy mentions moving the car park and toilet away from the coastline, what's to be gained by doing this?

The new coastal track alignment is located between the car park and boardwalk staircase that provides access to Pulpit Rock. It is proposed to move the existing car park approximately 20 metres west of its current location, create a new turn around bay, install a new toilet and revegetate the area to reduce the visual impact of the car park. Fishers will still be able to access Pulpit Rock but will be required to walk a little further to get to the staircase.

If I don't want to stay in the proposed new accommodation can I still do the Light to Light Walk?

Yes, you can still complete the Light to Light Walk but will need to stay at the public campgrounds at Saltwater and Bittangabee.

Will I be able to book the new Light to Light hut accommodation as a 1-night or 2-night walk?

No. The walk will be available as a 3-night accommodation package including night 1 at Mowarry, night 2 at Hegartys and the final night at Green Cape Lightstation.

I'm on a pension and can't afford to pay camping fees, what options do I have in this model?

National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) offers discount or concession for annual passes for eligible seniors, pensioners, veterans, and visitors who renew their NSW vehicle registration. Discounts and concessions are yet to be determined for campground fees.

Can I still stay at Green Cape Lightstation if I'm not doing the Light to Light Walk?

Green Cape Lightstation will be used to accommodate walkers on the third and final night of the Light to Light Walk. It is proposed to use the existing cottages and Telegraph Station and undertake adaptative re-use upgrades of buildings to accommodate walkers. This will mean changes to the current use of the Lightstation for casual short-stay overnight bookings. Further planning will be undertaken to determine if capacity for limited casual short-stay overnight bookings can be offered.

Can I still visit the Green Cape Precinct as a day visitor?

Yes, the Green Cape precinct and day walks are still open to visitation.

What's different about the new Light to Light Walk?

Light to Light walkers will experience new accommodation, but also have the opportunity to gain greater insight into the park's cultural and environmental values with enhanced storytelling through signage, digital technologies and contact with NPWS Hut Officers.

Day 3 of the Light to Light Walk from Bittangabee to Green Cape will change, the track realigned to the coast, which will provide unique views and experiences of the spectacular coastline. There will also be other short sections of the walk that will be realigned to view the coastline and a new accessible lookout at Boyds Tower. The Light to Light walkers will experience new accommodation and have an opportunity to hear from NPWS staff working as Hut Officers, providing greater insight into the park's cultural and environmental values. Day 4 will provide opportunities for additional optional tours providing unique insights into the cultural history and biodiversity in the park.

Will there be a cap on the number of people on the Light to Light Walk?

For Light to Light walkers using hut accommodation at Mowarry Point, Hegartys Bay and Green Cape Lightstation there is a cap of 36 people per day, to retain a remote experience and manageable usage of the track. There will also be visitors doing the Light to Light Walk staying at Saltwater and Bittangabee campgrounds and day visitors are able to walk sections of the track without staying on-park. NPWS will monitor the number of people doing the Light to Light Walk and will review the arrangements if usage is having a negative impact on the park or visitor experience.

What will be done to minimise the impact of increased visitation?

The revenue generated from the Walk will be used to maintain assets and deliver conservation projects in the national park and facilities on the walk, including campgrounds, to a high standard. The 'hut to hut' style Light to Light Walk offer will be limited to 36 walkers a day to manage visitation.

Have there been any considerations for mobility impaired access?

Yes. NPWS has looked at mobility impaired access at key visitor sites along the Light to Light Walk, particularly for those sites close to car parks. This includes Boyds Tower, where NPWS will upgrade the track to Boyds Tower and build a new viewing platform suitable for mobility impaired and wheelchair access.

The public access path to Green Cape Lightstation is currently wheelchair accessible.

What grade will the Walk be?

The Light to Light Walk is suitable for most ages and fitness levels. Some bushwalking experience is recommended. Tracks may have short, steep hill sections, rough surfaces and steps.

When will we see more detail on the design of the proposed accommodation nodes and huts?

NPWS will continue with planning and assessment processes for the walking track, hut accommodation and for the adaptive re-use of buildings at Green Cape Lightstation. NPWS intends to make documentation available to the public through the Draft Light to Light Walk Strategy and the Review of Environmental Factors (REF) later this year.

The Ben Boyd National Park Plan of Management mentions the significant Aboriginal values that have been identified along the length of the walk. How are these being protected?

Cultural assessments (involving local Aboriginal community members) have been undertaken as part of the planning for the proposed Light to Light Walk upgrade.

Cultural heritage assessments along the proposed route from Green Cape Lightstation to Disaster Bay identified a number of Aboriginal cultural heritage values in this area. NPWS, in consultation with the Aboriginal community, has decided to not propose this section of the walk to ensure the protection of the significant Aboriginal heritage values.

The route of the Light to Light Walk has been designed to minimise disturbance to Aboriginal cultural values. NPWS will regularly engage with the Aboriginal community and monitor Aboriginal cultural heritage sites located near to the Walk for any potential impacts.

Is the Light to Light Walk planned to become a Great Walk, or to be privatised in any way?

The Light to Light Walk will continue to be managed by NPWS. NPWS does not intend to privatise the on-park hard-roofed accommodation and/or camping experiences.

NPWS intends to manage the Walk experience, including on-site operations, through the provision of Hut Officers at each accommodation site, similar to that of current operations at Green Cape Lightstation. For walkers looking for additional services NPWS will explore commercial and non-commercial industry partnerships to deliver these visitor experiences. Examples may include transfer services, guided tours and food provision.

The upgrade of the Light to Light Walk will deliver a quality nature-based experience which may, in the future, enable a guided tour operator to gain accreditation as part of the Great Walks of Australia.

Membership of the Great Walks of Australia is gained by a private tour operator who must meet certain criteria for a luxury experience, including the use of guides and high-quality private accommodation. Under the current planning, NPWS consideration of this option would be restricted to an operator developing off-park private accommodation.

What opportunities are there for commercial tour operators?

NPWS will facilitate partnership opportunities. A range of associated services will support the upgraded Walk including, but not limited to, commercial tour operator opportunities. In addition, there may be other commercial partnership opportunities for various levels of assistance to individuals or groups, such as transfer services, food provisions and value-add experiences pre and post Walk. The Light to Light Walk will contribute to the local and regional economy, creating jobs in tourism and hospitality sectors through increased visitation that will generate intrastate, interstate and international tourism expenditure.

What opportunities will the community have to comment?

The draft strategy is on public exhibition until 26 August 2019 and anyone can review the strategy and provide comments.

How can I get more information about the draft strategy?

For further information on the strategy please contact the NPWS Sapphire Coast Area Manager NPWS South Coast Branch on 02 6495 5000.

Information sessions

Informal, walk-in open house sessions with NPWS staff between 3.00pm and 7.00pm.

  • Wednesday 31 July 2019 – Pambula Hall, Quondola Street, Pambula
  • Thursday 1 August 2019 – Eden RSL Memorial Hall, 84A Bass Street, Eden
  • Friday 2 August 2019 – Bega Showground Pavilion, East End of Upper Street, Bega

Where can I see a printed copy of the draft strategy?

Hard copies are available for viewing at the following locations:

  • National Parks and Wildlife Service Merimbula Office, Corner Sapphire Coast Drive and Merimbula Drive, Merimbula
  • National Parks and Wildlife Service Narooma Office, 9 Burrawang Street, Narooma
  • National Parks and Wildlife Service Bombala Office, 153 Maybe Street, Bombala
  • Eden Gateway Visitor Information Centre, Corner Mitchell Street and Imlay Street, Eden
  • Sapphire Coast Visitor Information Centre, 4 Beach Street, Merimbula
  • Department of Planning, Industry and Environment Customer Centre, Level 14, 59-61 Goulburn St, Sydney

How can I comment on the draft strategy?

Public exhibition for the draft strategy is from 12 July until 26 August 2019. You are invited to comment on the draft strategy by sending a written submission during this time.

While all submissions count, they are most effective when we understand your ideas and the outcomes you want for park

management. Some suggestions to help you write your submission are:

  • Write clearly and be specific about the issues that are of concern to you.
  • Note which part or section of the strategy your comments relate to.
  • Give reasoning in support of your points – this makes it easier for us to consider your ideas and will help avoid misinterpretation.
  • Tell us specifically what you agree/disagree with and why you agree/disagree.
  • Suggest solutions or alternatives to managing the issue if you can.

Your privacy

Your submission will be provided to a number of statutory advisory bodies (including the relevant regional advisory committee and the National Parks and Wildlife Advisory Council). Your comments on the draft strategy may include 'personal information'. Department of Planning, Industry and Environment complies with the NSW Privacy and Personal Information Protection Act 1998 which regulates the collection, storage, access, amendment, use and disclosure of personal information. See the privacy webpage. for details. Information that in some way identifies you may be gathered when you use our website or send us correspondence.

If an application to access information under the Government Information (Public Access) Act 2009 requests access to your submission, your views about the release will be sought if you have indicated that you object to your submission being made public.

Have your say

Public exhibition is from 12 July 2019 to 26 August 2019.

You can provide your written submission in any of the following ways:

  • Post your written submission to:
    Manager Planning Evaluation and Assessment
    PO Box 95
    Parramatta NSW 2124
  • Email your submission to: npws.parkplanning@environment.nsw.gov.au
  • Make a submission online by using the online form below.