Is the Fitzgerald River National Park Biosphere to be Ruined?


“Surely there is a place in our hearts and minds and in our world for a few wild and free coastal places”


The Fitzgerald River National Park is in part wilderness and biosphere which I walked with a group from the Perth Bushwalkers Club in April 2006. In a knee jerk reaction to the knee jerk reaction to the unfortunate situation in Ravensthorpe and Hopetoun due to the BHPBilliton mine closure in early 2009 and really shows little thought on the part of the Western Australian Government. It seems from this press release dated December 17, 2009 that Colin Barnett who it seems incapable of recognising good past decisions (e.g., footy stadium report) and his own government’s bad “announcements” is now pressing ahead with the planned road through the park, possibly in a face saving move, i.e., we made a stupid announcement now we must stick with it. Funny how they can change their mind when it suits.


Premier Colin Barnett has welcomed $20million in matched funding from the Federal Government to complete a tourist road through the Fitzgerald River National Park.

The announcement follows the State Government’s concept in January and a commitment of $20million in November for the full length of the road from Hopetoun to Hamersley Inlet and associated car-parks; day visit facility upgrades (lookouts, barbecues, shelters and walkways); and camping facilities at the inlet.

Part of the project will include a tourist walk trail.

“I am pleased the Federal Government has joined the State to help deliver this significant project,” Mr Barnett said.

“It will allow the building of a similar stretch of road from Bremer Bay on the western side. It is intended the project will have a 40km hiking trail connecting the two, which will be great for ecotourism.

“Equipment will arrive soon and work will begin by the end of January next year – just under six weeks away.

“With the closure of BHP Billiton’s nickel operations and the loss of 1,500 jobs, Ravensthorpe has had a year that that community will never forget. This Government has stood by the community and looked at ways to improve its fortunes.

“We maintained services, and Government employment in the local school and in health care. We allocated $5million to the Shire of Ravensthorpe so they could maintain some of their programs and some of the investments and infrastructure they had responsibility for.

“The ministers for Regional Development and Energy announced a $3million project to build a new independent power supply for Ravensthorpe and that is already having an effect on the expansion plans of businesses which can now undertake work with a reliable power supply.”

Construction along the route from Hopetoun to Hamersley Inlet and other facilities is expected to be completed by mid-2011.

Having walked for eight days from one side of the Fitzgerald River National Park to the other I can understand the Friends of Fitzgerald River National Park objections to the proposal and support them. There is appropriate vehicle access to the outskirts of the park at various points including access to semi-wilderness areas, whale watching and climbing of some peaks.  This approach allows the biosphere to be protected from vehicles and “mass” access, leaving in the inner areas to be access by more experienced walkers and of course respecting the wilderness values by having no infrastructure.

The Friends of Fitzgerald River National Park are

vigorously opposed to the proposed road from Bremer Bay to Hopetoun through the national park wilderness area and are developing strategies to counter the threat. ‘Friends’ president Andy Chapman said, “Although apparently supported by the highest levels of government the proposal is a knee jerk reaction to the unfortunate situation developing in Ravensthorpe and Hopetoun due to the BHPBilliton mine closure and has not been thought through. There are very serious environmental threats attached to the proposal to construct a highway quality road including: the likelihood of dieback introduction; impacts on pristine catchments, of which there are hardly any left in south-western WA; impacts on rainfall run-off and infiltration; and impacts on rare flora certainly and rare fauna probably. In addition the impacts of increased vehicle use and people on fragile coastal environments has to be considered”.

‘There are also serious engineering constraints including the requirement to build four major bridges and an unknown number of minor ones as well as the requirement to acquire an enormous volume of die back free road making material from distant sources”.

“Surely there is a place in our hearts and minds and in our world for a few wild and free coastal places”.

Please seriously consider supporting the Friends and other groups in their opposition to the road and please let the Premier know your views via the media release comments feature.

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