Over 300 locals marched along Point Plomer Rd today in protest of the decision made by Kempsey Shire Council to tar the remaining sections of unsealed road.
Council resolved to tar the remaining 6.2km stretch of Point Plomer Rd, if their application for a NSW Government grant is approved, at the October council meeting last year.
The decision was made on the basis of safety improvements and cost savings to be made by sealing the road.
However, many residents of Crescent Head and surrounds believe the road should be preserved and remain unsealed to maintain the rustic nature of the back road.
The crowd of 300 strong walked the stretch of road between Racecourse Headland and Big Hill this morning in an act of active citizenship before enjoying some live music, a barbecue and speeches at Big Hill.
One of the organisers of the march, Amy Bruce, said she was amazed at the sheer number of people who turned up.
“We’re absolutely thrilled with the turn out, we’re over 300 which is just incredible,” she said.
“I hope it shows council how much we care about this stretch of coast.
“Everyone has had a really good time and it has really brought the community together,” Ms Bruce said.
Local Dunghutti elder John Kelly performed a smoke ceremony before the group set off on the walk. He spoke to the Argus and said tarring the road would destroy the area and Aboriginal culture.
“It would increase the amount of people coming into this area and could damage sacred sites. This is a sacred area that needs to be preserved,” he said.
“There are a lot of people here who are saying no. This is one of the last untouched eastern sites in existence, we need to keep it that way.”
Following the 3km walk, Chris Dockrill addressed the crowd at Big Hill and said the road should remain untouched. Mr Dockrill and his family have lived on Point Plomer Rd for 30 years.
“People identify this land with Crescent Head, it should remain as it is,” he said.
“At least 13 of the 20 land owners on this road do not want it tarred. People who have lived on this road for a year should not over throw wishes of those who have lived on the road for decades.”
Over 300 people attended the Point Plomer Rd protest march today. Photo: Ruby Pascoe
One of council’s reasons for tarring the road was a safety issue for motorists, an issue Mr Dockrill said would be worse if the road is tarred.
“If the unsafe areas of the road were tared in 2004, why have the other sections then deemed not unsafe, now been tagged as so dangerous that they need sealing? They’re the same bits of road.
“As a resident of the road, I can safely claim that the most dangerous sections are in fact the sealed sections. Most of the near misses my wife and I have experienced have been on the sealed sections simply because people drive faster on tar,” Mr Dockrill said.
“If council wants to address safety on the road, why not impose 60km/h speed limit on the entire road?”
Following the application for the grant to seal Plomer Rd, council have resolved to create a character statement that will involve community input.
Kempsey Shire Council maintains the road over a length of 11.8km – from Crescent Head Rd to Big Hill – where the road enters Limeburners Creek national Park. Almost half of the road is already sealed with 5.6km tarred with two gravel sections of 4km and 2.2km remaining.
Mr Dockrill said the show of support against tarring the road was made clear at today’s march.
“We are simply people from a very broad cross section of the community who value something to which the council are currently blind and deaf.”
“Open your eyes to the jewel in the crown of this beautiful valley, a jewel you want to cover with bitumen. Do not tar Plomer Rd.”