Save beautiful Bella Creek

Bella Residents Action Group have taken a ten-year battle against a proposed motorsports park in a peaceful rural valley to Queensland’s Planning and Environment Court.

56957345_1621292001836069_r.jpegMisty morning creek: Ride on Mary Kayak and Bike Bush Adventures https://rideonmary.com

56957345_1621761171895947_r.jpegSouthern Greater glider, one of many endangered species mapped at the proposed site.  Wildcare https://wildcare.org.au/

The idyllic Lake Borumba region in the Sunshine coast hinterland is well-known for nature-based recreation including camping, fishing, bushwalking, horse-riding, canoeing etc. and incorporates national parks, state forests and nature refuges. https://www.google.com/maps/place/Bella+Creek/]

56957345_1621291905178686_r.jpegMary Valley Country https://maryvalleycountry.com.au

A motorsports park, with its attendant negative impacts, on a site straddling beautiful Bella Creek and its significant riparian habitat in the pristine upper Mary River catchment is totally incompatible and inappropriate.

Please help us fund the expert witnesses and legal representation we need to overturn a wrong Council decision. Many BRAG members have already contributed directly, and we are on the way to our overall target. But the cost of winning the appeal is considerable, and the developer has deep pockets. Our case is strong, and the benefits of winning are priceless. 

56957345_1621293018362382_r.jpegValley view: BRAG presentation to Gympie Regional Council 2020

A ten-year battle..
Ten years ago, the non-resident owners of the proposed development site decided to allow motorbike riding on their property. A Sunshine Coast property developer subsequently made application to Gympie Regional Council to develop a motorsports and tourist park on the site, with cabins, camping and licenced kiosk. Proposed motorsports events included multiple motocross courses, extensive trail-bike tracks, ‘hill drag’, ‘winch challenge’ and ‘tuff trucks’. 

56957345_1621293088558307_r.jpegPhoto credit: BRAG presentation to Gympie Regional Council 2020

Three successive development applications failed, thanks to strong community objection about the problematic characteristics of the site (remote location, narrow unsealed road, numerous one-way bridges, very high bushfire zone, high erosion hazard, flood-prone), the proposed development being in conflict with the Council's own planning  scheme, and the significant areas of high conservation value within and adjoining the site.

The developer contemptuously continued to build infrastructure and hold unlawful motorsport events, requiring Council to obtain a Court Order to cease and desist.

In 2018 a fourth application was made to a new Council, and controversially approved five votes to four in October 2020. [https://www.gympie.qld.gov.au/documents/40005057/42155479/2020-10-28%20Ordinary%20Meeting%20Minutes.pdf – page 86]. 

The Bella Resident Action Group and broader concerned community have no confidence that the developer will comply with the conditions of the approval, given his non-compliant history.

Council has stated that they do not have the resources to monitor the developer’s compliance.

56957345_1621761599488365_r.jpegRed-necked wallaby: Wildcare https://wildcare.org.au/

What about wildlife and environmental values?
The proposed development site contains essential koala habitat, and is mapped to contain endangered and vulnerable fauna including koalas, Southern greater glider, Yellow-bellied glider, Plumed frogmouth, Australian Painted snipe, Black-breasted button quail, Squatter pigeon, White-throated needletail, Southern snapping turtle, Tusked frog, Giant barred frog and Cascade tree frog. 

All of the Gympie region’s priority wildlife species occur in the immediate area of the proposed development site. [https://www.gympie.qld.gov.au/documents/40005057/40005560/Wildwatch%20App%20Brochure.pdf]

The conservation value of the proposed site is further illustrated by the Council-mapped biodiversity corridor through the property.

And the koala population in the Bella Creek region is one of few in southeast Queensland that remain healthy and free of Chlamydia infection. 

56957345_1621292568813300_r.jpegEastern Yellow Robin, one of Gympie Region’s priority species, all of which occur in the immediate area of the proposed site. Wildcare https://wildcare.org.au/

Mary Valley key tourism values..
The Gympie Tourism strategy identifies the greater Mary Valley key tourism values as natural assets, outdoor recreation-based tourism, scenic drives, our wonderful food trails etc. 

56957345_1621292980129908_r.jpegSchool students enjoying an outdoor education ride along Bella Creek Road. BRAG presentation to Gympie Regional Council 2020.

Evidently, it seems that some Councillors are unaware of the tourism strategy. Indeed, the Council’s decision to approve a motorsports park in Bella Creek valley suggests that rural residents' choices to live where they live, with rural amenity and peace of mind, are being disregarded. Our natural assets are being trashed for a few fast (non-sustainable) dollars for a very few people at the expense of the many people who actually live here.

We are not anti-motorbike or against motor sports parks per se. Many of us own bikes. But to paraphrase a previous Mayor in declining the first application, ‘Great idea, not here’.  Indeed, Gympie Regional Council subsequently approved a better-located and highway-accessible motocross park close by at Curra, just north of Gympie https://www.mxfarmqueensland.com.au/. 

We appeal to anyone who knows and loves the Mary Valley (residents and visitors alike), and more broadly, to lovers of natural places, quiet open spaces and scenic beauty, to conservationists and environmentalists, and to anyone who believes in fair play and social justice. Please help us reach our GoFundMe target and our ultimate goal of saving a very special place from the ravages of a motor sports park. 

Help us save beautiful Bella Creek and make our local council accountable. Hundreds of properly- made written submissions from community members should matter.

Poor decisions like this could threaten your lifestyle and community amenity next… 

Thank you!

[Cover photo credit: Koala Action Gympie Region https://www.kagr.org.au/]
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Organizer

Hume Field 
Organizer
Toolara Forest QLD
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