What is the issue?
The State Government is seeking input in order to review the Pastoral Act.
Much of the land in the Flinders Ranges north of Hawker is not private freehold land but instead is leased from the State Government to pastoralists to undertake grazing ventures1, and recognises the rights of Aboriginal people.
As the land is leased, people can undertake recreational off-trail bushwalking in these remote locations. They must notify the lessee of their intentions to walk, and the lessee can only deny access in certain scenarios. To clarify, by “off-trail bushwalking” we often mean following old vehicle tracks, or walking in a low impact environment, and can include camping for a few nights.
The Act also provides what are called Public Access Routes (PARs), which are often used by 4WDers for recreational use. They are well established and will likely probably remain, but our concerns are for access to other lands not part of PARs.
How could changes to Pastoral Act impact on recreational bushwalking? What are our concerns?
Currently, people intending to undertake bushwalks must notify the lessee of their intentions to walk, and the lessee can only deny access in certain scenarios. If support vehicles are to be used (or if the activity is recreational 4WDing), consent must be gained from the lessee.
Whilst we acknowledge that the Pastoral Act needs updating to allow for more flexible uses, including tourism and energy production, as well as the current need for cultural sensitivities, or mining activities, we’re concerned that access for recreational bushwalking may become restricted in these lands outside those limited, defined areas.
As tourism ventures are being considered to be included in the Act, this could further restrict access for recreational bushwalkers. We acknowledge that in some circumstances tourism ventures may be predicated on offering an exclusive access to experience the land, but would urge the Government to consider how this could adversely affect access for recreational bushwalking if it was widely implemented.
Who does this impact (in the context of undertaking recreational bushwalking)?
- Individuals doing self-planned self-guided bushwalking (in reality this is not individuals, but small groups of say 2-8 people)
- Bushwalking clubs, predominately those being Member Walking Clubs of Walking SA (the peak body for all forms of walking in South Australia), particularly those active in doing off-trail bushwalks north of Hawker, for instance Adelaide Bushwalkers, Friends of the Heysen Trail, and ARPA Bushwalkers (collective membership approx. 2,000 people) and other smaller walking clubs.