Community & Business

16 June, 2024

Frustration grows over walking track ‘debacle’

FRUSTRATION is growing over the time it is taking for Tablelands Regional Council to find a way to provide public access to the Peterson Creek walking track at Yungaburra.

Chris Fanning from Newcastle was disappointed last week when he could not access the Peterson Creek walking track.
Chris Fanning from Newcastle was disappointed last week when he could not access the Peterson Creek walking track.

A letter from the Yungaburra Association was tabled by Cr Maree Baade at the April Ordinary meeting, with council also endorsing the chief executive officer Gary Rinehart to make further inquiries about the valuation of the land in question, tenure matters, and funding opportunities to purchase the land.

At May’s meeting, Mr Rinehart gave an update on the issue and acknowledged the community was getting inpatient, with the tourist season now well underway and visitors not able to access the track.

The letter urges the council to move to resolve the issue which, the association says, has been going on for a year, unless it will “be considered to be a debacle”.

“Our community is extremely frustrated with the lack of progress made by our council on this issue,” the letter states.

“Given the lack of progress by council over the past 11 months, it is challenging to have any confidence in the actions so far by council in securing this piece of land to save the walking track for future generations.”

The association says it has many questions “which have never been fully answered” and lists three pages of questions and information that it is seeking from the council. 

The questions are related to the proposed purchase of the 2000sq m of land, which is part of Lot 3 on Penda Street, or whether the council was considering an easement and what that would involve.

They also ask about funding options and draw attention to the fact that council is set to spend $200,000 on an artwork for the Priors Creek recreational precinct.

“This question is being asked given that council appears to have found the money in January 2024 to purchase a statue for the Priors Creek precinct but has not been able to  find the money requested by the owner (of the land) for this important piece of land which the Peterson Creek walking track traverses through,” the letter stated.

“We implore our current council to be well informed, act promptly, be far sighted and make the right decision for our community.”

At last month’s meeting, Mr Rinehart said the organisation had been working on a business case to be present to the State to assist with funding to buy, needed to open the track to the public.

“We’re using an economic consultant who’s working on some other matters as well, to support that,” he told the council.

“We have sought some input in relation to businesses in relation to activity so we can work out the economic benefits of that walking track to support our case to the state.

“Cr Baade and I met with members of the Yungaburra community over private funding opportunities, crowd-funding etc but we’ll see how the applications to the state play out before we spend too much time on that.

“I have asked the valuer to review the valuation in light of the area and the tenure now proposed for that part of Lot 3 that we are seeking to acquire an interest in.”

He had also had discussions with owner of Lot 1 in regards to the walking track and some other matters we need to resolve.

“In short, we’re continuing to work on it,” he said.

“I appreciate the concerns in the community about the amount of time it’s taking, but it is acquiring interest in private land which is necessarily a drawn-out process.”

Cr Baade asked if the council had determined whether it could assist with “temporary insurance” cover for those using the track.

Mr Rinehart said the matter was being progressed through council’s solicitors, but “at this stage (I’m)  not optimistic that we can do that”.


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