Posts Tagged ‘Catalina Park Raceway’

Gully Plan for 2021 is unbelievably No.19

Wednesday, August 25th, 2021

Locals in and around The Gully water catchment area situated on the western side of the rural township of Katoomba may be astounded by the following truths we at The Habitat Advocate have gleamed of late about Blue Mountains Council’s legacy of plans for The Gully.

An analysis by our editor into the archival records maintained by The Habitat Advocate reveals that this current report/plan by Blue Mountains Council entitled The Gully Aboriginal Place Draft Plan of Management dated 7th May 2021 is actually Plan Number 19.  

Don’t believe it?   Well we have a copy of almost every one of the nineteen reports, and these are just the ones we know about.  This revelation comes after being a member of one of the longest lasting environmental groups in the Blue Mountains region, ‘The Friends of Katoomba Falls Creek Valley Inc.’ which lasted for 28 years initially forming informally in 1988 to protest and lobby against the Catalina Raceway from 1988 incensed by Bob Jane’s helicopter buzzing low over residents’ homes around what was then Catalina Park.   Over the span of half a lifetime, The Friends fought many a campaign against a host of environmental threats to the valley/gully and amassed a considerable record of material during that period.

The following is our list of the planning reports into The Gully:

 

List of Plans for The Gully, so far…

 

  1. Katoomba Falls Creek Valley Environmental Study A & B (date TBA)
  2. FWP – ‘Bushland Management and Report’, (date TBA)
  3. Frank Walford Park Master Plan for Development 1955 (car racetrack), by Katoomba Municipal Council
  4. Draft Assessment of Frank Walford Park, Katoomba – Land Suitability, Environmental Constraints, circa 1980
  5. Frank Walford Park Management Plan 1981, 54 pages
  6. Katoomba Falls Creek Valley by Neil Stuart (provided to Wentworth Falls TAFE Library on special reserve), 1988 and revised in 1991
  7. Katoomba Falls Reserve Draft Plan of Management, Volume 1, by Mandis Roberts Consultants for Blue Mountains City Council and  the NSW Department of Lands, April 1990 (possibly a Volume 2 as well)              
  8. Katoomba Falls Creek Valley Environmental Study – Part 1 (Draft Report and Management Plan of 87 pages) and Part 2 (Technical Reports, Data and Analysis of 55 pages) by Fred Bell of F.& J. Bell and Associates Pty Ltd and Dr Val Attenbrow, June 1993
  9. The Gully Archaeological Grant Project, 16th August 1995
  10. ‘Katoomba Falls Creek Valley Draft Plan of Management – Main Report’, by Des Brady of Connell Wagner Pty Ltd, of approximately 150 pages, April 1996       
  11. Frank Walford Park Plan of Management, December 1998
  12. Upper Kedumba Valley, Katoomba – Report on the cultural significance of Upper Kedumba Valley for declaration as an Aboriginal Place prepared by Dianne Johnson with Dawn Colless for NPWS, 162 pages, 3rd July 2000
  13. Draft Katoomba-Leura Vegetation Management Plan by Blue Mountains City Council, December 2000, 46 pages,
  14. Upper Kedumba River Valley Plan of Management (The Gully Aboriginal Place – Council Revised Edition, (Spiral Bound, 105 pages) by Environmental Partnership, February 2004
  15. Final Report for Sydney Catchment Authority – Catchment & Improvement Grant No. 44 Upper Kedumba River Vallkey, prepared by members of Kedumba Creek Bushcare 7 Blue Mountains City Council March 2005, 27 pages.
  16. A Heritage Study of the Gully Aboriginal Place, Katoomba, New South Wales by Allan Lance of Heritage Consulting Australia Pty Ltd August 2005 (2 versions – a detailed confidential version for the local Aboriginal peoples and a second summary version for Blue Mountains City Council, 113 pages)
  17. Construction Environmental Management Plan – Blue Mountains Sewer Trunk Mains Amplification: Upper Kedumba River Valley, South Katoomba Sewerage Catchment by Total Earth Care Pty Ltd for Sydney Water and Blue Mountains City Council, 17th October 2007, approximately 50 pages.
  18. Reconnecting to Country – Progress Report #2 by Rouse Water, Council, Gully Traditional Owners, Sustainable Futures Australia, Widjabul Custodians, September 2009. (possibly a Progress Report #1 as well)
  19. The Gully Aboriginal Place Draft Plan of Management 7th May 2021, by Soren Mortensen and Brad Moore, Blue Mountains City Council, 142 pages.

 

 

As Council currently prepares its final version of its 2021 plan version for The Gully, the obvious critique we posit to Council is that it is about time Council actually focuses on implementing its plans rather repeatedly spending money having more plans written.   

We point out that the only plan on The Gully that Council has funded out of its budget (ratepayers’ money) and not from external grants was the construction of the racetrack in 1959.   And then the funding was a loan to the then Blue Mountains Sporting Drivers’ Club Ltd, a collection of wealthy local business men who persuaded Council to bulldoze the homes of the poor residents so they could race cars on a new racing circuit. 

Council’s loan was in excess of £20,000 (say $40,000 equivalent at the time), which in today’s value would be in excess of $600,000…and the rest. 

[SOURCE:  Minutes of Special Meeting of the Council (duly convened) , Tuesday 13th day of January 1959, page 8, Item 45, signed as validated by the Mayor and Town Clerk and verbatim thus:

“Car Racing Track – Catalina Park, Katoomba. Page A12 Town Clerk’s Report.

Resolved on the motion of Alderman K. Smith and W. Smith that consideration be given when dealing with the Loan Estimates for 1959/60 to the inclusion of an amount of about £20,000 for the construction of a blacktopped surface to the racing track and the provision of adequate safety fencing.”

 

That ratepayer loan by Council to the Blue Mountains Sporting Drivers’ Club Ltd was never repaid. 

Irresponsibly, council management and councillors at the time were mindful of Council’s massively over-indebtedness to the tune of £155,460 (excluding Electricity debts).   Records show that Council at the time had been threatened by legal action to withdraw its claim for loan recovery.  So likely due to Council’s then dire indebtedness at the time, Council cowered, backed off and wrote off racing track loan to its business mates.

  

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