The fight for Ningaloo strip

Tom ZaunmayrPilbara News
Phil Kendrick from Ningaloo Station.
Camera IconPhil Kendrick from Ningaloo Station. Credit: Tom Zaunmayr/Pilbara News, Tom Zaunmayr

It is a battle that has drawn strong responses from those who travel to the Ningaloo Coast, and a scrap between those living on the coastal land-strip and State Government over who can best look after it.

Managers of Ningaloo and Warroora stations have been fighting what they describe as a land grab, claiming they have managed the coastal strip well for the past 100 years, and at no expense to the taxpayer.

The Government’s current position is that having Department of Parks and Wildlife manage the land would improve protection of and access to the pristine section of the Ningaloo Coast, with improvements mooted for low-impact accommodation.

When Government appears to be taking land from those who live on it they rarely win public affection, but Lands Minister Terry Redman has been insistent this move is in the State’s best interests.

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On a trip to Ningaloo Station late last year, manager Phil Kendrick told the Pilbara News the International Union for the Conservation of Nature said pastoralists had done a good job managing the coastline in question.

The plan would include DPaW taking over management of the coast and tourism infrastructure, which both stations oppose because they have provided supplementary income. Tourism and protection aside, DPaW’s plans also include provisions for employment of Aboriginal people people through a ranger program.

North West Central MLA Vince Catania said anyone who believed a Government agency could manage land better than a pastoralist was kidding themselves.

“Pastoralists, people who live and work on the land, are best placed to manage the land, not a Government department with limited resources,” he said.

“They have done a good job to date and are the best ones to do it in future. We have seen what has happened to pastoral stations taken over by DPaW, with issues around wild dogs, pests and in general not looking after the land.”

Greens candidate for North West Central Carol Green said the Ningaloo and Warroora coastlines were in need of a clear direction to rehabilitation.

“The issues concerning management of Ningaloo and Warroora Station coastal strips ... must be resolved in the next term of Government for the benefit of all invested parties,” she said.

“With diversification there must be a commitment to better environmental management ... including a provision for strengthened heritage protection of Ningaloo heritage site and indigenous rangers.

“This part of WA is incredibly precious and it should be able to be enjoyed by all, however current tourism efforts are unfortunately having a negative impact on this delicate environment.”

Ms Green said the WA Greens would support any measure to secure protection and sustainable use of the area.

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