Tourists turned away from popular beaches | Illawarra Mercury

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The South Coast NSW was overflowing this holiday weekend, with national parks having to close and visitors turned away on Thursday and Friday. Booderee National Park, located on the southern headland of Jervis Bay, was forced to close to the public from 12:30pm on December 30 because of overwhelming visitor numbers. The park opened again at 2:30pm when visitor numbers had subsided. Traffic was banked up for almost three kilometres along Naval College Road heading in and out of the National Park. Electronic signage on Pacific Hill announced to visitors that the park had reached capacity and was closed. Camping in the park is entirely booked out for the summer school holiday period. Visitors with pre-booked camping passes are permitted to enter the park despite any temporary closures. Across Jervis Bay on the northern headland, Beecroft Weapons Range on the Beecroft Peninsula was also forced to close due to high visitor numbers. Read More: Man dies after being swept off rocks at Windang The Range is owned by the Royal Australian Navy and includes 4,200 hectares of the Beecroft Peninsula. It closed to day-visitors at 11:30am on December 30 and did not reopen. A Facebook post by the Range on December 31 permitted access to Long and Bindijine Beach only for the launch and retrieval of vessels on trailers. All other vehicle access was prohibited. “Due to the high number of vehicle movements along Long Beach yesterday, 30 December, which did not involve launching vessels, vehicle access is closed today 31st December,” the post said. Hyams Beach was also inundated with visitors on December 30. Cars were turned away from the tourist attraction by park rangers at Booderee Avenue after parking at the beach was full. It is a familiar situation for Hyams local residents, who witness their local neighbourhood inundated with tourists every summer after the beach gained a reputation as having Australia’s whitest sand. Around 100 permanent residents call Hyams beach home and there isn’t enough infrastructure or parking to accommodate a population that can swell to 5000 on some days in summer. Shoalhaven Council, responsible for existing mitigation strategies such as traffic management in and throughout the village from December 26 to January 26, dedicated rangers managing parking compliance and variable messages boards on the way in and out of the area, is trying to direct tourists towards one of the other 100 beaches in the Shoalhaven. “All marketing efforts during the peak season are related to dispersal and education as opposed to promoting visitation to the area,” said City Futures Director, Gordon Clark. The 100 Beach Challenge is a council initiative where visitors can tick off beaches when they have visited them, trying to seek out 100 different beaches. “Shoalhaven City Council’s Tourism Team works with Tourism Australia, Destination NSW, RMS via Live Traffic, Booderee National Park and other agencies to ensure the message is clear that Hyams will be at peak capacity and visitors should rethink their plans to the area,” Mr Clark said. “We recommend visitors consider visiting the white sand beaches around Vincentia such as Nelsons, Orion and Collingwood as there is much more parking and facilities. “The entire region is around 90 per cent booked at this time of year but there’s plenty of room for everyone if visitors make plans to visit less popular, and equally beautiful beaches.” Mr Clark said closures will continue throughout the summer if visitor numbers exceed the capacity of the area. The Illawarra Mercury newsroom is funded by our readers. You can subscribe to support our journalism here. Sign up for breaking news emails below …


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