100 signatures reached
To: Shoalhaven Council
Improved access to Pigeon House Mountain
Shoalhaven Council should take primary responsibility for maintenance of critical roads in and around Morton National Park, particularly the iconic Pigeon House Mountain, to improve tourist access and safety.
Why is this important?
Most people who live in or visit the Shoalhaven would be familiar with Pigeon House Mountain - or to give it the name known by the Yuin Nation people, Didthul. The mountain was called Pigeon House by Captain Cook in 1770, because it was so noticeable even from offshore. It has long been one of the iconic attractions in the Shoalhaven. It routinely attracted hundreds of visitors per day in peak season - so much so that the car park overflowed and the approach roads were jam packed. It has been called the single most popular tourist attraction in the region, and for good reason - it is a perfect day walk and the views from the top are spectacular.
After the 2019 bushfires, the mountain was closed for rehabilitation work by National Parks. This has been completed, but is not getting as much use as it might because Pigeon House is not so easy to reach any more. While the roads all over the Shoalhaven are a mess, most are still possible to drive. But the route to Pigeon House is often completely unusable without a 4WD vehicle AND a spell of clement weather of at least a few days. Even then, it may not be possible. Many visitors have ended up stranded, to be rescued by the locals.
The main tourist route to Pigeon House is via Clyde Ridge Road, but the maintenance of this road is a mish-mash of responsibility. Only the first kilometre is maintained by Shoalhaven Council. The rest is maintained by State Forestry, and since the 2019 bushfires and subsequent floods has barely been maintained at all. Why not? Because Forestry is currently unable to log in the area, and will only maintain the roads for other purposes if they are paid to do so. National Parks has an interest, because it is a key access route to several National Parks, and so does the Rural Fire Service - this road was one of those critical for access during the 2019 bushfires. Under normal circumstances they all contribute to the maintenance of the road, and Forestry has asked them to do so again - but apparently to no avail, and the road has now degraded to the point where it is often impassable even with a 4WD. The locals know how to avoid the worst spots, but visitors do not and many have gotten stuck and in some cases have had their vehicles damaged by collisions with other vehicles trying to negotiate the roads. This is not good for the image of the Shoalhaven as a tourist destination.
Representations to all the stakeholders - State Forestry, the Rural Fire Service, Shoalhaven Council, and the State and Federal Governments for assistance have been unsuccessful. "No money" is one common response. "Not our responsibility" is another. As is "Perhaps in a few years". Fortunately, there are people who live in the area. And it is these people who make it possible that visitors can still get to Pigeon House at all. The locals now maintain these roads and bridges, using their own equipment, in their own time, and with their own money. Their council rates apparently go to fixing other local roads in the Shoalhaven, but not their own.
It should not be the responsibility of the locals to maintain these roads. Shoalhaven Council should take primary responsibility of maintaining Clyde Ridge Road and other critical roads in the area, for the sake of assisting the recovery of tourism in the Shoalhaven, and for the safety of visitors to the area.