Public access finally 'legal'
The public right of way between the Flannel Flower Track and Lobster Beach at Wagstaffe has been legally granted, according to the Killcare Wagstaffe Trust.
it was formally announced at Australia day celebrations in Wagstaffe that public access has been legally granted to the fire trail that connects the Lobster beach track with the Flannel flower track, the Trust's newsletter has reported.
"It is the culmination of over five years of sustained effort, principally by Graeme Anderson and the other owners of the land that the trail crosses," the newsletter stated.
The fire trail was originally bulldozed in 1962 and became part of a network of informal walking trails on the Bouddi Peninsula and was included in early walking maps of the area.
The trail crosses or borders seven private properties.
As these properties became developed over the succeeding decades, the public tended to continue to use the walking track and the owners of the properties became concerned about their responsibilities and liabilities should someone be injured.
The newsletter stated: "One irate and careless walker threatened to sue one of the owners for not maintaining the track".
"Rather than attempt to close the track to the public, the owners came together and decided to investigate the possibility of transferring responsibility to National Parks and granting public access," the newsletter stated.
"The first letter was written in 2003 and, although National Parks Wildlife Service was receptive, the process has proved anything but straightforward.
"For the right of way to be granted a legal easement had to be created through the properties and a legal agreement had to be made with the National Parks and Wildlife Service.
"Legal costs were likely to be significant so the local community groups were approached for help with these.
"The Trust, The Bouddi Society and the Community Association all agreed to donate $1000. "In addition, members of the Community Association put up a fund-raising barometer outside the Wagstaffe store and raised a further $1000 in donations from the public over just a few days.
"This strong local support encouraged the owners to persist. NPWS is also expected to contribute $10,000 to the legal costs.
"Five years and seven lawyers later, the legal easement has been created and the National Parks and Wildlife Service is formally responsible for the maintenance of the track and the liability for those that use it.
"In the meantime, three of the properties were sold and in two of those cases, the agreement with the process of creating the right of way was conditional as part of the sale."
According to the newsletter, the trail will be upgraded, in particular the section that runs behind the properties near the Lobster Beach track.
Some simple signage will also be added.
The walking maps have been altered to include the new access and bike riding on the right of way is forbidden