Residents of Maloneys Beach will need to launch their boats elsewhere after Eurobodalla Shire Council (ESC) confirmed it will not reinstate an access track.
The news comes as the small beachside community remains split over whether the track should have remained open.
The ESC and NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) removed the access in May, 2023, by barricading the road and then commencing revegetation works.
The changes are a result of a larger project concerning the creation of the neighbouring Murramarang South Coast Walk. NPWS received $3.64 million from the NSW Government's Regional Growth Environment and Tourism Fund in 2018 to create the new multi-day walk, which opened in early 2023.
Some residents of Maloneys Beach recall using the beach track as far back as the 1980s. They say the road provides safe access for locals and tourists.
Amongst their complaints, the group's spokesperson Geoff Davis said NPWS failed to consult the community.
"There was nothing in the consultation that confirmed there was any intent to close the access to the beach," he said.
"They used an underhand method to down scope the scale of the work to get community consultation.
"None of our representations to parks and wildlife have been responded to with any accuracy or consistency. Or accurate answers as to how we got to this situation."
Both ESC and NPWS dispute this. A spokesperson for NPWS said they completed extensive public consultation between 2018 and 2023.
"The NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service has never provided boating facilities at this location and unrestricted vehicle access within the national park resulted in extensive damage to the dune vegetation, illegal camping, bush toileting and illegal campfires," the spokesperson said.
"These issues were the source of regular complaints to NPWS."
A spokesperson for ESC said they were involved in the master planning process and detailed design phase. The council closed the access track (a non-gazetted road), requiring no approval from Crown Lands.
"The informal track on council land stopped providing direct access to the beach after the boat ramp was damaged by erosion in 2008," the spokesperson said.
"Council has no plans to upgrade or reinstate the boat ramp, therefore there is no need for the beach access track across the dune."
The spokesperson said the residents will need to launch their boats at nearby South Durras, North Batemans Bay and the regional facility at Hanging Rock. Both ESC and NPWS said they consulted extensively with the Maloneys Beach Residents Association (MBRA).
Association president Elaine Schutt said the community remained split on the issue.
"As far as the MBRA is concerned the case is closed. The actions of both the NPWS and the ESC are within their legal rights and responsibilities and reflect the realities of their budgets and strategic aims," Ms Schutt said in a statement.
"The views of the MBRA membership still range from one extreme to the other. The response we made in 2020 was based on the majority of views that were provided. Since the closure, as many members have voiced their approval as have voiced their opposition."
The association made a submission to the Murramarang South Coast Walk Draft Master Plan in September 2020.
"We note the alternative proposal on MP (master plan) page 26 that recognises the long-standing and informal access to the beach by vehicles and boat trailers," the submission said.
"We note the legitimate concerns that the NPWS express over this proposal but reject the statement 'It is recognised that members of the local community do launch vessels occasionally via the unauthorised vehicle track...'. This informal access is used regularly and is very popular during the holiday season.
"Access to a beach access for the launching of small water craft, kayaks, canoes, 'tinnies', etc is a non-negotiable condition for the involvement and support of the MP by the MBRA and Maloneys Beach residents.
"The beach access pre-dates the Murramarang National Park by many years and is a cornerstone of the community. This is a Maloneys Beach heritage."