Reckless driving, litter, nappies ruin ‘picturesque’ pools
MOUNT Walsh National Park is a highly popular destination for locals and tourists to enjoy, but has recently become mistreated by visitors littering and recklessly driving in the carpark.
The Waterfall Creek rock pools are located at the southern end of the National Park.
In 2016, a car park was built closer to the spot, allowing more visitors to have access.
Experience Altitude Bushwalking guide Moira Thompson said the close access parking, posts on social media and posts on council tourism websites have all added to the exposure.
“More visitors means more damage and more impact,” Ms Thompson said.
Having been associated with the Mount Walsh National Park for 50 years and conducting bushwalks since 2009, Ms Thompson has been trying to educate the public on how to behave in the area.
“How to leave no trace, how to respect private landholders and how to observe national park warnings,” she said.
Ms Thompson said after heavy rain, it is hard to stop the hundreds of visitors that flood to the pools on the weekends.
“An increase in water at Waterfall Creek means an increase in rubbish, smashed glass bottles, unlawful fires, nappies, sanitary items, tampons and even human faeces,” she said.
The road to the carpark also crosses through Utopia Environmental Reserve, where over 20 families have chosen to live “off the grid” in peace and quiet.
“[More visitors] puts more traffic on the dirt road, with reckless driving, speeding, car-bonnet surfing and dangerous driving that has nearly hit one of the children living in the area.”
Ms Thompson is also urging people not to swim in the pools when the water is not flowing as it is unsafe.
“Swimming in mountain rock-pools introduces sunscreen, perfumes, detergents and cosmetics into the water, as well as urine and respiratory fluid,” she said.
“When the water is not flowing and becomes stagnant all these foreign items stay in the water and can become a breeding ground for bacteria.”
The experienced bushwalking guide is calling for yearly meetings to be held to discuss these issues, more regular patrolling by rangers and police, but most of all to move the car park back to its original location.
Ms Thompson believes moving the car park where it used to be, 3.5km from the entry, would stop too many visitors disrespecting the site.
A spokesperson from the Department of Environment and Science said the pools are “very popular”, especially in summer, due to the picturesque surrounds and ability to picnic on the rocks.
“In general, visitors are respectful of the area, however, when rangers become aware of inappropriate behaviour appropriate follow-up action is taken,” the spokesperson said.
The spokesperson agreed that when the level of water falls it can become dangerous to swim.
“If there hasn’t been substantial rainfall often the pools will run dry, and at times, large algal blooms can develop,” they said.
“During these periods it is advised that visitors do not enter the water.”
The spokesperson said they have received reports of dangerous driving nearby which are passed on to the council.
“We urge anyone visiting this area to behave appropriately, take their rubbish with them, and obey all signage,” they said.
“Anyone who has information about poor behaviour is encouraged to call Queensland Parks and Wildlife through the 13QGOV Hotline number.”
Ms Thompson said Waterfall Creek is everyone’s responsibility and should be left the way it is found.
“No rubbish or graffiti, no broken trees, no fireplaces, no camping and no toilet or sanitary items can be left in the area, but must be taken out,” she said.