smelly, polluted water is not what first comes to mind when people think
of famous Californian beaches.
world-class WA surfers Taj Burrow, Jake Paterson and Melanie Redman have
seen it all.
They know that cuts do not heal after surfing at Huntington
Beach and they know swallowing water can makes them sick, never mind the
ear and throat infections.
That is why they love returning to the clean, beautiful,
uncrowded beaches of WA's South-West.
They were horrified when they came home from Hawaii
last week to hear about plans for a big development at Smiths Beach, south
The surfers believe Smiths Beach would be devastated
if the proposals went ahead.
They have joined the groundswell of public outcry
against the plans.
Burrow feared any mass development of the beach would
cause increasing amounts of pollution. He said
he liked to escape the dirty waters and fast lifestyle associated with
many of the beaches he surfed while on the world circuit. He
kept coming back to the area because it was the opposite to what he was
used to on tour. "It has some of the best
surf in the world, he said. He said the development
sounded ridiculously big.
Redman said Smiths Beach was like a bit of paradise.
She believed to allow such a big development would
open the way to more development in the area. "It
is not suited," she said. "It would lose a lot of its tourism
Paterson said if the area was developed, it would
lose appeal. He said the plans for development
should be less dense and perhaps focus on big lots rather than lots of
units. There needed to be controls so the area
did not lose its character.
The strong feeling in the surfing community adds support
to the Smiths Beach Action Group.
Group spokeswoman Melia Brent-White said she was angry
when she heard about the plans. She knew it was important to act quickly
because submissions must be made by February 19. Ms
Brent-White, 20, said the development would have a massive environmental
impact and would greatly affect the rural community. It would change the
way the area looked and operated. She organised
the first public meeting to raise awareness - and it was attended by more
than 350 people.
THIRD TIME UNLUCKY FEAR FOR
It happened at Noosa and then again at Hastings Point,
north of Byron Bay. The Thomsons have seen it all before on the east coast.
Big development moves into a beautiful holiday spot
and the little people are pushed out.
The Thomson family, of Joondalup, fear that a proposal
to develop the pristine Smiths Beach will have the same result - they
will no longer get to enjoy their humble, affordable holiday at the Canal
Rocks Beach Resort campsite.
As it is, the Thomsons have had to book their caravan
site a year in advance since the park's size was reduced to make way for
expensive units five years ago.
They said they had camped at the site for the past
10 years and liked its friendly, family atmosphere.
Robyn Thomson said the "little people" would
be affected most, those who could not afford expensive houses or accommodation.
She feared there would be nothing left for people who just wanted to camp.
"It feels like the rich syndrome," she said.
"It happened in Noosa, the rich people wanted their way."
Mrs Thomson said her family went to Noosa every year
when they lived in the eastern States, staying at a campsite between the
river and the ocean. Then exclusive homes were built, the owners did not
like the campsite and it was closed down.
The family moved their holidays to Hastings Point
in NSW - and the same thing happened.
"This is the third time," Mrs Thomson said.
"The camp grounds here have a great atmosphere. Most people come
on a regular basis. People are really concerned they will lose somewhere
Leigh Thomson said the council should take notice
of the effect development had on the east coast. When the environment
was disturbed a sandfly problem developed.
"Here it is pristine and tranquil," he said.
"You can walk down to the beach and look back and all you see is
DEVELOPERS SAY ALL WILL BENEFIT
The size of the proposed development at Smiths Beach
south of Yallingup has drawn criticism from locals and holidaymakers alike.
People fear such a development would have a detrimental
impact on the environment, causing pollution, destroying pristine bush
and forcing out native wildlife. It would draw thousands more people to
the area, creating significant traffic and needing substantial infrastructure.
But the developers, Canal Rocks, say both tourists
and residents will be catered for by the development.
The proposal is designed to cater for growing tourist
and residential demand expected in the area over the next 15 to 20 years.
Plans released for a 60-day public comment period
show the development includes 230 residential lots, 460 holiday units,
an outdoor festival area, village and community centre, upgraded coastal
paths and public parking.
An extra 8ha from the development area would be dedicated
to the adjoining national park.
Canal Rocks chairman David McKenzie told The West
Australian recently that the plan represented 15 years of extensive community
consultation and workshops.
He said it would involve extensive conservation and
revegetation initiatives and aimed to minimise overall aesthetic impacts
on the area. It was meant to provide real benefits to the district.
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