Access by car to a popular Wentworth Falls campground and swimming hole has been closed due to private building works.
Ingar campground and Ingar Road was closed to cars on August 5 last year “due to private property building works” and it is still closed more than six months later.
National Parks reports the closure on the road which opened in 1961 “is indefinite and date of reopening is to be advised”.
It’s a move that has angered numerous residents – keen campers, 4WD enthusiasts, parts of the tourism industry and many in the Indigenous community. And it’s a fight local MP Trish Doyle has now taken up in Parliament.
Last Wednesday in the Legislative Assembly the Member for Blue Mountains called on the Minister for the Environment, Gabrielle Upton, to make arrangements to establish a new easement “either by negotiation or by acquisition to restore access to our national park”.
The issue will be discussed in Parliament sometime in the next three months.
Ingar Road crosses through private property from the end of Queen Elizabeth Drive and a government spokesman has written to Ms Doyle informing her “public access has been subject to an informal agreement. However following a spate of thefts, the property owner installed a gate to prevent public access. The owner continues to allow access for emergency services, National Parks and bushwalkers”.
The spokesman said “NPWS has explored other public access options, however no viable alternative has been found”.
It is an 11 kilometre walk to the campground.
Gundungurra elder Aunty Sharyn Halls is incensed by the decision which restricts access to some of their important Aboriginal sites.
“The reality is we should be buying the land and putting a toll on it like at Glenbrook and that’s how we can make the money back [to pay for the easement].”
“There are many significant sites … we’ve been going there forever … buy it back and let us in.”
Tharawal man, Gary Rule, called it a “joke”.
“To be dictated to by one bloke and several departments who won’t do anything is criminal. We share this land.
“It’s back to the old days where we have to ask permission,” Mr Rule added.
Graham and Roslyn Reibelt from the Ask Roz tourism website said it was the only easily accessible swimming hole in the Upper Mountains. They have been inundated with concerns since posting the news on their website.
Four wheel drive enthusiast Murray Clark has suggested other options such as access via Bedford Road or the Andersons fire trail, but there are issues with the steep grade, flooding and the move would also anger cyclists.
The Ingar picnic area was upgraded in 2016/2017.