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Plea to Stop Unlawful Use of Vehicles at Wonga Beach

“There is total disregard for Council permit requirements and vehicles are pushing tracks into the Littoral Rainforest - a “critically endangered” ecosystem living behind the beaches..."
wonga bech foreshore management

MEDIA RELEASE

DSSG has called on authorities to stop the unlawful use of vehicles on Wonga Beach and run a public education program with beach driving permit holders about the limitations on speed, safety and where not to drive.  

vehicle use on wonga beach
A serious consequence of reckless beach-driving – beach burrowing crabs are being crushed to death, and when they’re all gone, the beach will no longer be frequented by the many shorebird species attracted here for breeding, feeding or just resting. Just between the two sets of markers there were 55 soldier crabs splattered by the two left side quad wheels and 104 by the right, plus another four beyond the markers under the right side wheels – total 165 crab fatalities in just 11 metres of vehicle travel. Image Supplied.

Despite Council sanction for access for Wonga residents only, there has been a steady expansion of daily traffic and an explosion of it over Easter, unlikely to be all local, according to local residents.

“Speed limits and safe driving requirements have been ignored, people are driving on and across the soft sands and dunes and there is no enforcement of the local only use,” DSSG President Didge McDonald said yesterday.

Entire sections of tide -shaped, smooth sands have been obliterated by vehicle tracks, not just the obvious tracks of a considerate, sedate beach driven vehicle, but high-speed doughnuts, burnouts and drag-racing over several days and kilometres. 

“Shorebirds that frequent this area specifically were forced to leave and one of the main draw-cards for them to that beach section, the burrowing sand crabs, were crushed in huge numbers,” McDonald said. 

“Will the shorebirds return, probably, but to what? Their beach ecosystem has taken a real hit.

vehicle use at wonga beach

This beach is part of two World Heritage areas and where they meet: the Wet Tropics World Heritage and the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage areas. Large volumes of beach driving causes beach disturbance however erratic and high speed driving causes significant damage. Image Supplied.

“It is Council’s job to enforce the law. But for the vehicle impact, Wonga Beach is near pristine in parts and is host to a lively ecosystem that is heavily impacted by all vehicles but especially those unlawful ones driven badly.”

 DSSG is opposed to the recreational use of vehicles on beaches because they are a refuge for nature and for us all.

Vehicles are banned from beaches in most of Australia with rare exceptions. DSSG sees no reason why Wonga should be an exception, especially because of the variety and number of shore (and migratory) birds that live and feed there. However, if Council is going to permit restricted use, it should ensure the rules about speed, safety and the environment are enforced.

“There is total disregard for Council permit requirements and vehicles are pushing tracks into the Littoral Rainforest – a “critically endangered” ecosystem living behind the beaches,” McDonald said. 

“Every beach ‘belongs’ to us all so why should we tolerate that kind of behaviour by anyone on any beach in the Shire, whether in Wonga or elsewhere”.

DSSG concerns with wonga beach foreshore management

Indiscriminate access to the threatened Littoral forest adjacent to the beach also damages the dune vegetation allowing erosion processes to accelerate and further threaten the Littoral forest. Image Supplied.

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[…] provided examples of degradation of the foreshore and its littoral forests.These included paths and vehicle access points being driven through the littoral forest all along […]

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