Springbrook National Park is a short drive inland from Surfers Paradise and is a national park that is so exceptional that it has the status of being a World Heritage listed area, but it too suffers from all the same threats and needs our ongoing support and protection from inappropriate development.
Springbrook is part of the Gondwana Rainforests of northern New South Wales and southern Queensland. The Gondwana Rainforests have an extremely high conservation value and provide habitat for more than 200 rare or threatened plant and animal species.
The World Heritage listing of the Gondwana Rainforests is based on the following criteria:
These irreplaceable qualities and values are often forgotten by those who only see national parks as a place for visitors to walk and picnic, or to exploit with commercial development such as a cableway from Mudgeeraba to Springbrook. All of these precious relics of past eons of time have had to be defended from exploitation and it is the community which takes on their defence frequently with little assistance from governments or legislation.
Water mining or water extraction via bores has been going on for several decades with little regulation, monitoring or investigation as to whether it is having an impact on the surrounding national park ecosystems. The water mined is carried by truck down the mountain to bottling plants where it becomes “spring” water in an endless supply of plastic bottles.
Coca Cola and a highly placed public servant both have unregulated bores operating at Springbrook and efforts to contain the amount extracted and monitor this have proved extremely difficult as neither party answers requests for such data until many months have passed or not at all. Water mining falls between the cracks of State and Local government legislation with both parties passing the buck to the other.
A third application has now been made and the applicant has sunk 5 bores on his property before he has been given approval by City of Gold Coast Council. No doubt he is relying on the precedent of the other two water mines to get approval.
However some 300 objections have been lodged to this application citing the following factors:
Gecko and residents of Springbrook await the Council decision on this third application. This application and the two pre-existing ground water extraction businesses along Repeater Station Road, demonstrate the urgent need to regulate ground water extraction on the Springbrook Plateau either under the Gold Coast Water Plan or under State legislation as it has been scientifically proven the extracted ground water and the creeks that create Springbrook’s Waterfalls have connectivity.
Every few years an entrepreneur or politician comes up with a proposal for a cableway to be constructed through World Heritage listed Springbrook National Park. The last serious effort was made in 2000 and went all the way to an environmental impact assessment, before the Government finally recognised the negative impacts and refused approval in 2002. It took a great deal of effort and energy for community members to convince the Government of the day that a cableway was not a positive development for Springbrook.
The primary purpose of national parks is the conservation of nature not to provide joy rides for visitors. Many people find it difficult to understand conservationists’ strong objections to a cableway to Springbrook and often cite the Skyway in Cairns which appears not to have much impact on the Wet Tropics rainforest over which it passes.
However the two places cannot be compared:-
It has been suggested that the cableway could be alternative transport to road journeys, especially for people with disabilities. However at a suggested $80 per person return, this is not feasible.
Mayor Tate, City of Gold Coast, states he has a plan to resurrect the cableway plan by buying suitable properties for the infrastructure from the State Government. It seems unlikely that such an approach would succeed, but all conservationists need to be vigilant and oppose this intrusion into one of the loveliest and most environmentally significant places in Australia.