Killalea stays free: gate fee proposal axed

A world-class surfing facility, a walking track that links Bass Point to Minnamurra and a new road that diverts traffic away from Shell Cove.

These are just some of projects up for discussion when a draft of Killalea State Park's revised plan of management goes on exhibition in the new year.

But something you will not find in the draft plan is a proposal for a gate fee, something on the agenda of the former Killalea State Park Trust as recently as July 2011.

"Definitely not," said Nathan Cattell, who took on the role of Killalea State Park manager 14 months ago.

"We believe there are other ways of generating revenue - there will be no gate fee, I can safely say that."

Throughout 2013 the Killalea State Park Trust has been gathering feedback from the community about what they want to see happen at the popular state park.

"We have gone through a community consultation process, collating information and feedback and that is being compiled into a draft plan which should be ready by late February or early March," Mr Cattell said.

"That draft will be the subject of a further three- to four-month consultation process which will involve meeting with community groups and government agencies on the ideas they like and don't like and where we head from there."

Mr Cattell said various ideas had been put forward during the process, including a proposal for a modern facility to replace the demountable classrooms.

The complex would be underpinned by surfer training and education programs, but would also be home to the park's environmental education programs used by many South Coast schools.

Meanwhile, a new walking path, linking with other tracks north and south of Killalea had the potential to be a major tourism drawcard, Mr Cattell said.

A new entrance to the park has long been identified. The need has increased as visitor numbers grow and traffic risks increase as cars and buses struggle through an increasingly built-up section of Shell Cove.

Mr Cattell describes his first 14 months at the park as exciting.

"It was a blank canvas from my perspective," he said.

"I see my role as managing the park on behalf of the community and that is the trust's perspective also, we are guided by what the community wants to see in the park."

While big ticket items await inclusion in the plan of management, work on other projects continued during the year.

Weed management and pest management remain a priority, as is opening up access to other areas of the 265 hectare park to the elderly and disabled.

The old surfer's track leading down to The Farm Surfing Reserve has been upgraded, while a "scar tree" has been relocated from the Dunmore Quarry and will form the centrepiece of an educational area, funded by Boral, where children can sit and learn about Aboriginal culture.

On top of the camping facilities, the park is also now generating income through fitness and surf school licences, plus a licence fee through an agreement with Segway Tours South Coast.

"We are asking for feedback about the Segways machines in the park, we see then as environmentally friendly and they open up access to areas of the park, but we want to hear the community's view," Mr Cattell said.

The days of encouraging speculative developers into the park are over, but the challenge of making Killalea viable is ever-present.

"We do need community support here, especially with initiative and ideas to generate funds," Mr Cattell said.

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