Regular visitors to beaches on Seven Mile Beach Road in the Broken Head Nature Reserve will notice some changes this week with Council focusing on trying to reduce parking problems and keeping the road clear, safe and passable for all traffic, especially emergency vehicles.
The popularity of the area is not only putting pressure on parking, but also on the natural environment with the nature reserve home to three endangered plant communities including littoral and lowland rainforest as well as 240 plant species, 12 of which are threatened in NSW.
The beaches on Seven Mile Beach Road are popular with locals and visitors and parking is at a premium over summer and peak holiday times.
“Our long-term traffic counts estimate an average of 400 vehicles a day are using Seven Mile Beach Road which is extraordinary when you consider that this is a narrow, single lane, dead-end, gravel road in a nature reserve,” James Flockton, Infrastructure Planning Coordinator, said.
“Because parking is limited drivers are tending to park wherever they like, often blocking access which means that the area becomes gridlocked.
‘Also, should there be an emergency, no emergency services can get in,” Mr Flockton said.
Council patrols the road regularly, issuing fines where necessary.
“We have had temporary barriers in place to try to stop people parking on the road and maintain access and we are now installing permanent barriers.
“We are using rocks and timber bollards that better suit the surrounding natural environment and these will be put in place this week.
“We will also be installing a radar to remind people of how fast they are going because unbelievably some drivers treat the road, which is a crossing for wildlife and used by pedestrians, like it is a racetrack,” he said.
There is anecdotal evidence of increasing deaths of wildlife on the road.
“Locals understandably get very upset to see wallabies and other birds and animals that have been hit by cars,” Mr Flockton said.
A number of speed humps will also be built to slow vehicles down with this work to start early next year.
“Another thing we are looking at doing next year, is trying to get funding to install technology that will let drivers know how many available car spaces there are on Seven Mile Beach Road so people will know not go down the road if there is no parking available,” Mr Flockton said.
In December 2020 – January 2021 Council asked people about parking and traffic at Broken Head.
158 people responded directly to a question about Seven Mile Beach Road, citing concerns about:
- Availability of parking
- Illegal camping
- Impact of traffic on wildlife and the environment
- Illegal parking
- Pedestrian and cyclist safety
“It’s very clear that the increasing popularity of Seven Mile Beach Road has and is creating problems and challenges and these must be managed,” Mr Flockton said.
“Earlier this year we sealed the section of road to Kings carpark and this has been helpful in reducing the amount of dust generated by vehicles,” he said.
“We will be monitoring the impact the rocks have on parking and our Enforcement team will continue to patrol the area, fining people for parking offences and illegal camping.
“This is one of the most beautiful parts of our Shire and Council, residents and every visitor has a role to play in keeping it that way,” Mr Flockton said.