Rick O’Brien talks to the The Herald on Stockton Rally

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THEY aren’t rednecks, they’re not hoons and they don’t want to see Australia’s bushland decimated beyond repair.

Yet Unlock Australia members do enjoy camping, fishing and driving 4WDs and trail bikes in national parks to explore the nooks and crannies of Australia’s wildlife.

Courtesy of  “The Herald”:   www.theherald.com.au

Up to 15,000 members are expected to descend on Broadmeadow’s District Park tomorrow  to show their dismay at the closures of national parks around the country.

The current restrictions imposed at Stockton Beach will be the target of their rally.

Founder John Rooth said it was time for people to reclaim the bushland.

‘‘Our bush is being locked off,’’ he said.

‘‘We know there are problems, but at the end of the day shutting [national parks] down isn’t the answer.

‘‘We love our country and we want access to it.’’

Tougher penalties for littering, boom gates like those used in car parks for revenue raising and controlling numbers are just some of the actions Mr Rooth thinks can help.

He said it was time politicians listened to the people.

‘‘We need to find solutions, we need to re-educate people,’’ he said.

‘‘You do need to restrict, regulate and control but you don’t need to block it off.

‘‘No one’s coming up with solutions, they’re coming up with gates.

But the Worimi Conservation Lands board of management rejected the suggestion that campers had been ‘‘locked out’’ at Stockton Beach.

‘‘The draft plan, covering much of the area known as Stockton Bight, allows for four-wheel driving on 22.5kilometres of beachfront.  A further 350hectares is set aside for dune driving and quad-bike riding,’’ the board’s  chairwoman Petrice Manton wrote in the Newcastle Herald.

‘‘So Unlock Australia claiming to ‘‘save’’ Stockton beach from a ‘‘lockout’’ is nonsense.’’

Rick O’Brien has brought his young family up from Sydney to take part in the protest.

He has been camping in the Stockton sand dunes with his father, Bill, since he was five.

‘‘I want my kids to get the same experience that I did,’’ he said.

‘The rally will kick off about 10am and there will be plenty of activities, turning District Park into a mini-festival.

Mr Rooth said it was a chance to show politicians the will of the people and to dispel myths surrounding Unlock Australia members.

‘‘I often get labelled as a redneck, 4WD hoon and it’s not fair,’’ he said.

‘‘The people we represent are environmental campers, people who can’t access the bush tracks on bike or foot [because they’re too old] and fishermen.

‘‘We treat the bush with respect.’’

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