Locals slam tourists for "trashing" iconic waterways
BELLINGEN Shire locals have become fed up with an influx of tourists who they say are defecating and littering at their iconic waterways.
The popularity of the once relatively untouched swimming holes at Gleniffer - in an area dubbed the Promised Land - has grown dramatically over recent years, featuring extensively in media as a tourist destination.
But with this has come the rather unpleasant and damaging consequences to the natural environment, particularly as there are no facilities in the area.
One person went so far as to etch the words 'no littering' into a tree trunk recently to warn those visiting the area this summer.
Residents have taken to social media to vent their frustrations.
"...They are very popular places to visit and have been featured extensively in a range of different media but unfortunately they hype up how beautiful it is but they don't advise of the lack/non existence of facilities," wrote Debbie White.
"As a Gleniffer resident and a ratepayer I am loath to provide facilities for invaders who have shown very little respect for and degrade the amenity of our precious local resources," wrote Daphne Paddymelon.
"I actually asked a nearby AirBnB owner if they could please remove advertising of the wonderful swimming areas from their website to help this problem. They graciously obliged," added Peter Douglas Smith.
In a bid to alleviate the issue, Bellingen Shire Council adopted a Plan of Management for Gleniffer Reserves in May last year.
In the report, it is noted that during the peak season over summer, water levels in the waterways are at their lowest and pollutants and faecal contaminant levels are high.
This in combination with increased dust levels from traffic, vegetation and soil damage by trampling, and rubbish dumping is having an impact on the reserves.
"The natural environment of the Gleniffer Valley, its reserve network and surrounding State Forest and National Park areas are under significant pressure from increasingly high levels of visitation and usage, particularly during peak heat seasons," the report reads.
"The visitor pressure has effectively exceeded site carrying capacity during peak seasons, a trend which is likely to continue and increase over time."