LETTER TO THE EDITOR
One of the icons of Central Australian living is being trashed, destroyed, completely buggered.
Camping at Two-Mile on Lhere Pirnte (the Finke River) near Glen Helen is a thing of the past for most Alice people.
For 35 years I have been rolling out the swag under the gum trees, and having a skinny dip in the beautiful big waterhole.
It has now been colonised by the mobile mansion brigade, pulling their immense rigs right up to the shoreline, and expropriating what should be wildlife habitat, and public access.
The clown in the picture was there for four or five days, with his van virtually hanging over the water, but when asked if he had had a swim he said no, it was too cold.
Last week there was scarcely room to get to the water, and the disturbance to the wildlife was extreme.
A disclosure: I used to own and operate Trek Larapinta, and our small groups used two mile as a base for walking tours. But we camped close to, or on the bank, under the trees, with the swags on the sand. As did everyone.
It was a terrible day when it was decided to signpost the “bush camping area” to all and sundry. I suspect that the decision was made by the Tourism mob, not the good people in Parks.
The waterhole is a very significant environment for Central Australia, one of the very few permanent waterholes. It has about ten species of fish. Dozens of species of waterbirds, including pelicans, black swans, egrets, herons, cormorants, coots, ducks, grebes and so on.
Shorebirds include the reed warbler, little grass bird and dotterels.
Then there are the finches, budgies and honeyeaters that come to the shore to drink.
And the dingoes that patrol the shore looking for a tasty bird to eat.
These temporary Harbourside Mansion holders are wrecking all that.
Not to mention the view.
Rwetyepme (Mt Sonder) in the distance with the the two-mile waterhole in the foreground is one of the special views of Tjoritja. No more!
I understand that the situation has been exacerbated by the (temporary?) closure of Glen Helen, but it is no excuse for this vandalism.
What should be done?
• Remove the road sign advertising it. (I know it is too late, it is on the free campers websites, but perhaps some won’t find it).
• Restrict it to tent and swag camping only (dig a bloody great hole that the caravans and campervans can’t get through if necessary).
• If that fails, ban camping and parking within 30 metres of the water’s edge (and enforce it).
This should be done on environmental grounds alone, legitimately and necessarily, but also for amenity.
Charlie Carter, Alice Springs