Myrtle Wattle (Acacia myrtifolia) leaves, linen thread and bookbinder’s gum on canvas
49 x 49 cm (framed), image diameter 22 cm
Private collection, South Australia
Flinders Chase National Park, on the wild western end of Kangaroo Island, boasts one the greatest untouched coastlines in Australia. There are no human intrusions from Cape Borda Lighthouse in the north to Cape du Couedic Lighthouse in the south. We could be about to lose that extraordinary and highly prized claim. Approval has just been given to build large-scale private commercial villages on two prominent and fragile headlands, requiring kilometres of roads and tracks to be bulldozed through the pristine wilderness. This contravenes the Park’s Management Plan, which prohibits any development in these coastal zones. There has not been a thorough Environmental Impact Assessment or public consultation.
The developments have received widespread condemnation and a maelstrom of anger is building – the integrity of public National Parks is threatened, this is just the beginning. At a packed community meeting held on Kangaroo Island there wasn’t a single person who supported the plans; 500+ people rallied on the steps of South Australia’s Parliament House, with representatives from 48 Friends of Parks groups and science organisations, including those who helped found the Chase 100 years ago; the newly formed Public Parks NOT Private Playgrounds campaign has quickly gained a large following; hundreds of people have written to politicians and newspapers; there have been numerous television and radio interviews; hundreds of cars wear bumper stickers; a shearing shed concert helped to raise funds and build community resilience; our representatives met with Premier Marshall; long-serving Park Rangers have resigned; and all three Kangaroo Island Friends of Parks groups are on strike.
We’re not anti-development, we’re simply asking them to return to the original proposal for discreet eco-tents or cabins ON the Kangaroo Island Wilderness Trail, away from the visible and sensitive coastal headlands, and to make use of existing roads and infrastructure – to ‘Get Back on the Track!’
Now that these inappropriate developments have been approved we are forced to take legal action, which will be very costly. So I’m donating this artwork to the cause to help protect one of Australia’s most precious wilderness coastlines.
UPDATE: $6,000 was raised thanks to a bid from a very generous and concerned South Australian. Thank you to everyone who placed a bid and showed support for the campaign.
FURTHER UPDATE (from the ‘Public Parks NOT Private Playgrounds’ website):
“In January 2021, the South Australian Government published a Development Regulation Variation in the SA Government Gazette permitting developments over $1million in Flinders Chase National Park without planning approval. Previous development approvals were cancelled and approval was granted for Australian Walking Company to build its accommodation after making changes to its plans. The company withdrew the original application, the subject of the court case, and submitted a new application exempt from the normal development (including native vegetation) processes. The court case collapsed despite Eco-Action having spent many thousands of dollars donated by supporters, to fight the Supreme Court action.”