Forestry's decision to close Nethercote Falls may have been made by people on the mid-north Coast, a former Forestry employee said.
Forestry announced its plans to make Nethercote Falls a no-go area early last week and since then, Far South Coast residents have expressed their anger over the decision with one resident creating a petition to keep the falls open.
Jenny Halper created the online petition as soon as she read the article on Wednesday, August 19. She is hoping that if enough people sign it Forestry will be forced to reconsider their decision.
“The first thing I thought when I read the news was that we need to work together to stop this happening and that someone should create a petition,” Ms Halper said.
“Once the doors are shut they are really hard to open. We need to use the power of the people so they can’t take away this gem.”
Ms Halper wasn’t the only one to disagree with Forestry’s decision to close the falls.
In July last year the Forestry Corporation underwent a restructure and all management positions looking after community services, including recreation, are now based at Wauchope on the mid-north coast, so any decisions such as this would be made up there.
Former Forestry operations manager for the Southern Region and long-term Nethercote resident Martin Linehan said he thought closing the falls was a "clumsy decision".
“I assume they are doing it on safety grounds, but I’m not aware of any changes in safety legislation that would necessitate a new approach.
"For 12 years prior to July 2014 I was responsible for managing the recreational use of the forests around Eden, including Nethercote Falls.” Mr Linehan said.
"We addressed the risks through signage, and by restricting publicity about the Falls. They were removed from our maps and brochures, and only sign-posted in the immediate vicinity.
"In July last year the Forestry Corporation underwent a restructure and all management positions looking after community services, including recreation, are now based at Wauchope on the mid-north coast, so any decisions such as this would be made up there.
"They may not be aware of all the circumstances at Nethercote Falls, including the significance of the area to locals, and the fact that it is such a special natural attraction.
“While the risk of serious injuries there is real, we consulted widely and I believe it was being appropriately managed.”
Mr Linehan said that he was advised to erect signage in the area warning people of the potential dangers and that was done.
He said he also wasn’t sure that closing the road to the lower car park will have the desired effect.
“The access road is steep and erodes if not well maintained, but we installed pipes and gravelled it to deal with that issue. People will still walk in to the Falls. Closing it may well hinder access for emergency vehicles.”
Mr Linehan has two children who both grew up enjoying Nethercote Falls on both family outings and with their friends.
“There are very few places like it on the South Coast and one of the most beautiful natural places, it would be a shame to deprive the future generations from enjoying it.”
Nethercote Falls has been a popular spot for locals and tourists for years with many people having very fond memories of days spent enjoying the swimming hole. The spot is featured on the website Oz Swimming Holes and is listed as the number one swimming hole in NSW. On top of this, Nethercote Falls has been featured in many videos and short films.
But early last week Forestry Corporation of NSW’s partnership co-ordinator Brendan Grimson said part of the Falls Link Road in the Nullica State Forest would be permanently closed for safety reasons.
“The part section of Falls Link Road from the upper picnic area is now closed and will permanently exclude the lower car park.
“Works are scheduled for early September to install a locked gate to facilitate closure to Nethercote Falls in response to safety incidents.
“We put road closures in place for the safety of forest users, so please don’t attempt to walk or cycle past or around them,” Mr Grimson said.
While he acknowledged that people would still be able to walk there he said: “The wider picture is that we’re not wanting to see people there. There are plenty of other sites.”
Ms Halper's petition can be found online at by clicking this link. At the time of publishing the story the story had 327 signatures but Ms Harper is hoping that will soon be in the thousands.