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From: Donella Peters <>
Sent: Tuesday, February 19, 2019 1:31 PM
Subject: Your help urgently needed to protect Flinders Chase National Park

Number 10, January, 2019 

A newsletter from Eco-Action Kangaroo Island and input from Friends of Parks KI Western Districts
The issue is over a proposed Australian Walking Company (AWC) development at Sandy Beach and Sanderson Bay within the Flinders Chase National Park (FNCP), Kangaroo Island.

Public Parks are NOT Private Playgrounds.  See a PDF of their facebook page, here  or visit

Map of Development locations:
Lodge location (in green) - Sandy Creek and Sanderson Bay
Use of existing heritage facilities - Cape du Couedic lighthouses (in green)

Wilderness trail - red dotted line

Existing campsites - red

Courtesy DEW

1. Background
The former Tourism Minister, Hon. Leon Bignell, approved a grant to the Australian Walking Company for ‘tent-style eco-accommodation’.  The Press Release of 7 February 2018 stated,
“The $832,889 grant goes toward the $4.8 million project cost to develop luxury tent-style eco-sensitive accommodation and other facilities, initially at two sites along the Wilderness Trail.”

DEW state that all tourist developments on conservation lands are ‘Category 1’ and can be approved without public consultation.
It is current government policy to encourage private investment in National Parks to make up for the ongoing budget cuts inflicted on the Department of Environment and Water.

Flinders Chase became South Australia’s second National Park in 1919.  Conservation visionaries, including the Field Naturalists Section of the Royal Society of South Australia, persuaded the government to proclaim a large area of western Kangaroo Island as a reserve for the protection of native flora and fauna.


Pristine remote wilderness in a national park - an unsuitable site for a private luxury tourist development. Photo courtesy Colin Wilson.

2 Proposed development
Private luxury village of 10 buildings: 7 sleeping pods, a large central hub (9m x 18m x 4m high) with separate utility buildings, and rainwater tanks at two spectacular, prominent, pristine wilderness coastal sites within Flinders Chase National Park, namely Sandy Beach and Sanderson Bay.
The proposed building complexes are not on the Kangaroo Island Wilderness Trail (KIWT), one being 3 km away overlooking Sandy Bay beach.
They will require the construction of approximately
    3 kms of access track suitable for All Terrain Vehicles and
    7 kms of spur trail to access the existing KIWT.


Sandy Beach flora - soon to be obliterated by a private luxury tourist development complex.
Photo courtesy Colin Wilson.

3 Impacts
Eco-Action members are opposed to this development for a number of reasons:
    1.    They do not comply with the Parks own management plan
    2.    The current  development proposal is not what was initially discussed, being kilometres away from the walking trail impacting on the wilderness experience of day users of the Park. The development is effectively a major development in a pristine coastal environment in one of Australia’s premier national parks.
    3.    The plans have gone ahead without any understanding of the potential impacts on the natural environment including several state and nationally listed threatened species (EPBC) such as:
Critically Endangered
    Regent Honeyeater
    Curlew Sandpiper
    Eastern Curlew
    Red Knot
    Great Knot
    Australasian Bittern
    Glossy-black Cockatoo
    Western Whipbird
    Hooded Plover
    Bassian Thrush
    KI Dunnart
    Southern Brown Bandicoot
    Australian Sea-lion
    The Heath Goanna
    KI Echidna

The proposal alienates public land and restricts public access to much of the FCNP. This includes the use of the Cape du Couedic lighthouse cottages turned over to AWC.
Potential environmental impacts include considerable destruction of native habitat and opening the area to invasive weeds and diseases. Tracks will increase the movement of feral cats, and human habitation with act as a focus point for introduced rats, mice and invertebrates not normally found in this wilderness area. Additional threats from this development will come from an increase in predatory native species which have been shown to benefit from human habitation and impact on native species including magpies, currawongs and corvids.

The experience of walking the wild, remote Sandy Beach will be lost. This development will extend across nearly 200 m of headland in full view of the beach. One of only two beaches in the Park easily accessible to the public via a short walking track, it retains a wild, remote aspect with no sign of any human disturbance.  Accommodation overlooking Sandy Beach takes away the wilderness feel and remoteness for all other users and, as outlined in the Kangaroo island Development Plan, should not be allowed.

The endangered Hooded Plover.
Photo courtesy Colin Wilson.

4 The proposed developments do not comply with the Flinders Chase National Park (FCNP) Management Plan.
The FCNP Management Plan Amendment (2017) states that
Major Development Zones include Rocky River Headquarters Area and Cape du Couedic Heritage Precinct.
Minor Development Zones include Kangaroo Island Wilderness Trail (KIWT).
NB: No mention is made of any major or minor development at Sandy Beach or Sanderson Bay.
The Management plan includes associated western Conservation Parks and Wilderness Protection Areas.

Both proposed sites are located outside of the KIWT Overnight Camping Zones.
The FCNP Management Plan states that,
‘Overnight camping nodes will be provided along the trail and small ecologically sensitive accommodation may be developed.’

The proposed developments are not close to the trail, not ‘small’ and not ‘ecologically sensitive’. The risk of fire is substantial and will increase the complexity of fire management in this area and the risk to fire fighters and clients.

Hooded Plover eggs on Sandy Beach.
Photo courtesy Colin Wilson.

5 Assessment
The State Commission Assessment Panel (SCAP) will assess this development.
Agency consultation will include KI NRM Board, KI Council, CFS, Coast Protection Board and the Native Vegetation Council (NVC).
The proposal has not been referred under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation (EPBC) Act for an assessment of impact on nationally threatened species and ecosystems. Therefore it is potentially in breach of national environmental legislation.
The development proposal does not comply with the Flinders Chase National Park (FCNP) Management Plan.
The development does not comply with the desired characteristics of the Kangaroo Island Development Plan . The plan states:

The siting of tourism development, including any associated access driveways and ancillary structures, on cleared or degraded areas is preferred. Development should be located away from fragile coastal environments and significant habitat or breeding grounds.
There is some land on Kangaroo Island where the flora and fauna have developed naturally and are still not noticeably affected by human intervention. These areas will be kept free of artificial improvements so that visitors may experience a completely natural environment.

Such areas will remain as wilderness areas in order to preserve their special character. There is a need to preserve the natural character of land bordering rivers and at river mouths.

Therefore, it cannot be approved by the SCAP under the Planning, Development and Infrastructure Act(2016).

Not a small footprint - orange person in distance at guest accommodation building 5 with 2 more beyond and main building 50 m behind photographer.
Photo courtesy Colin Wilson.

6 Public consultation
Many individual members of environmental and park support groups have volunteered thousands of hours towards preserving the natural, cultural and social values of FCNP. Yet none of the current resident park supporters have been consulted about the development proposal or provided with an opportunity to comment on this development which can be approved without public consultation.

7 Concerns
DEW's support for this proposal outside the Management Plan sets a dangerous precedent and demonstrates a threat to all Parks. This will leave all Parks vulnerable to similar private developments with no opportunity for public input.
It will fragment a remote, intact and pristine area of FCNP with high wilderness values.

Visit to Sandy Beach
Comments from two of the FoPKIWD volunteers:
!. “What shocked me on visiting the site of the private luxury tourist accommodation was the extent of the footprint of the complex and its high visibility from a beach with public access. It extends over an estimated 150m of fragile dense coastal vegetation down a fairly rugged limestone slope, which will require extensive vegetation clearance and landscape modification for path development during construction, for guest access between the buildings and for staff emptying 'grey water' from bathrooms and toilets, rubbish collection, cleaning, making beds etc.
The buildings are all widely spaced out across the landscape, so the amount of vegetation clearance for access between buildings will be significant.
The main 4 m tall 'long room' building will be high on the skyline when viewed from Sandy Beach. The dense and diverse native vegetation is only knee high for the most part, so the buildings will rise high above it and will all be clearly visible from the beach in a long line and massively intrusive in an otherwise totally unspoilt, pristine area with high wilderness values. Then, of course, there is the bulldozing of a permanent 3 km access road into the site.”

2  “The sites for the accommodation and other buildings were pegged out and its footprint is quite large. The buildings are strung out with the main building very prominent. The buildings will impose themselves on the landscape; no matter how much they’re designed to blend in. Even with above ground ‘pods’ there will have to be significant earthworks as the area is rocky and sloping. We also anticipate that there will have to be quite a lot of vegetation cleared –traversing the path from the hub furthest from the lounge/dining room (or long house) will be quite difficult in the dark so there will have to be significant modification to remove rocks, fill in holes and reduce vegetation.”

The Advertiser Jan. 10 2019
1. Editorial: “Plans in Parks are not just nimby fodder” is about Commercial developments in places like the Adelaide Parklands or South Australia's numerous national parks.
It states, “Anything less than a fully open and transparent process will be frowned upon.”
and concludes,
“...others, particularly those including accommodation in national parks, deserve public scrutiny.”

2. Article, “Tourism projects planned for SA national parks” by Matt Smith
These include the more controversial accommodation projects for Yorke Peninsula's Innes National Park and the Lincoln National Park, southern tip of Eyre Peninsula.
Mark Parnell said, “I think it is completely inappropriate for the Government to be approving anything in a national park that has not had a comprehensive public consultation and environmental-impact statement.”

Media contacts
Eco-Action KI
Fraser Vickery  mob. 0400 035 300
Friends of Parks KIWD
Bev Maxwell mob.  0418 205 957

8 Help publicise this issue and voice your concerns
Please forward this newsletter to individuals and groups on Kangaroo Island and the mainland.
Help persuade the State government to provide interested third parties with effective opportunities to comment on the AWC proposal and its ramifications for Kangaroo Island by writing to the following.
It is a good idea to ask for acknowledgement of receipt, so the letters can't be mislaid.

1. Hon. David Speirs, Minister for the Environment & Water
Postal address: GPO Box 1047, Adelaide SA 5001
Ph. (08) 8463 5680

cc to Premier Steven Marshall
Postal address: GPO Box 2343, Adelaide SA 5001
Ph. (08) 8429 3232

2. Hon. Leon Bignell, local member

cc to Susan Close (Shadow Minister for the Environment)
and Rebekha Sharkie, Federal member

Others worth including in your cc or sending separate letters are:
AWC, Kirsty Aitkin
TWC, Heath Garratt

Damian Miley, Regional Director DEW
John Schutz Chief Executive DEW

Friends of Parks:
Duncan Mackenzie, President of Friends of Parks Inc.

Please Bcc to or



Letters to the Editor

There may be an article on this issue in tomorrow's The Sunday Mail or The Advertiser next week. It would be appreciated if as many as possible wrote letters to the Editor.
It is a good idea to keep them short and to the point.
Email them to
Please Bcc to or


Friends of Parks KI Western DistrictsFoP logo

With over 20 years of dedicated service, they have suspended their major involvement in organising the 100th anniversary of Flinders Chase National Park this year and have also withdrawn their services to the National Park estate.

This is because the DEW's support of the AWC’s proposal to build private luxury accommodation complexes in pristine coastal areas in Flinders Chase National Park for the Kangaroo Island Wilderness Trail.
Details and photos are on their Facebook page:
“... the proposed development makes a mockery of the park’s role in conservation and protection of the natural landscape. Each new development weakens the integrity and purpose of National Parks as places for the protection and conservation of native plants and animals.”
Rick Andrews, President, said,
"It’s our belief in the importance of national parks and conserving wild places for future generations that has led us to take this stand.”
“It’s the thin end of the wedge. We’ve seen what’s happened in Tasmania, NSW and Queensland and now it’s happening here.”



Not a small footprint – three people standing on the sites of accommodation buildings 5, 6 and 7 of the 10 buildings.

Photo courtesy Colin Wilson.


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Compiled by Joan Huxtable on behalf of Eco-Action Core Group.