Greater access proposed for partial Karijini closure
Public access to Karijini National Park during a planned annual partial closure has been significantly increased under a revised proposal by the Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions.
The Weano Gorge recreation area and access road will now be the only sites closed within the Pilbara’s most popular national park from December to February each year if an amended department proposal is implemented.
The department’s original plan, put forward in late 2018, proposed that the whole north-central section of the park be closed over that period, including Banjima West and North roads, the Karijini Eco Retreat and the Weano, Joffre, Knox and Kalamina recreation sites.
In a letter written to Shire of Ashburton chief executive Rob Paull in September, department Pilbara regional manager Allisdair MacDonald said the department had “significantly reduced” the area that would be subject to the proposed closure.
“The only area now proposed to be closed is the Weano Access Road, from the Karijini Eco Retreat turn-off northwards, including the Weano Recreation Area and the associated Weano and Hancock gorges,” he wrote.
“This means that the remainder of the national park remains open to the public, including all Shire of Ashburton roads within the national park and the Karijini Eco Retreat.”
Consultation conducted by the department found several emergency service organisations and local tourism operators supported the plan and almost every other group had no objections, including traditional owners, visitor centres and most Pilbara councils.
An eight-to-one majority of the Shire of Ashburton Council last month reiterated its opposition to any part of the park being closed for any period, but advised if the partial closure went ahead it should be subject to annual reviews and monitored for any negative reactions from tourists.
Shire President Kerry White said while the council did not have any jurisdiction over how the department managed Karijini, its preference was for the park not to be closed at any time during the year.
“While tourist numbers fall dramatically during the summer period, it is still a popular leisure destination for residents in Tom Price and Paraburdoo,” she said.
The department’s plan is expected to be finalised later this month.
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