Ground was set to break on a new $4 million facility, spearheaded by the Bathurst Kart Club and the Bathurst Regional Council, back in March this year.
However ongoing opposition from the Wiradyuri Traditional Owners Central West Aboriginal Corporation and the Save McPhillamy Park group resulted in a last-minute shut down of the works.
That was initially through a 30-day emergency declaration under Section 9 of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Heritage Protection Act 1984 (ATSIHP Act).
However the protection declaration for that part of the Mount Panorama/Wahluu area has now been extended to a decade-long Section 10 order by Federal Minister for the Environment Sussan Ley, putting a more permanent stop to the kart track plans.
The declaration doesn’t affect the existing motorsport activities that take place on the famous Mount Panorama circuit.
“I am satisfied that the area identified at the top of Mount Panorama/Wahluu, one that helps define the iconic shape of the mountain top, is culturally significant and should be protected under the ATSIHP Act,” Minister Ley said.
“In making this declaration, it is important to also address some of the issues that have been raised in a passionate community debate.
“The declaration covers a reduced area than that previously sought. It does not, and nor did the applicant seek to, prevent existing motor racing, existing sporting and recreational activities or other public activities on the Mountain.
“It acknowledges the cultural significance Mount Panorama/Wahluu has for the Wiradyuri people, in contributing to local Aboriginal narratives, song lines, ceremonies and cultural heritage.
“The declaration protects the public use of the area as well as protecting its heritage value.
“I have met with people from all sides in Bathurst, and reviewed all reports and submissions and there are earnestly held views on all sides that I respect.
“The initial report did recognise the cultural significance of the site to the Wiradyuri and further submissions and consultation with a number of parties strengthened my views about the significance of the site.
“I strongly hope that the Bathurst Regional Council can continue to explore options for a Go Kart Track which seems to have significant support if it were to be placed at another location than the top of the mountain.”
The Bathurst Regional Council put out a statement expressing disappointment in the ruling.
“Council has received a copy of the Minister’s decision in relation to a Section 10 being placed on the area identified as being for the Go-Kart track project on Mount Panorama-Wahluu,” it read.
“Council is seeking advice to investigate the full ramifications of the Section 10. While Council is disappointed in the decision, we will abide by that ruling at this time.
“Council notes that neither our own commissioned reports or the Minister’s commissioned report indicated that a Section 10 should be placed on the site.”
The proposed Mount Panorama kart circuit
Photo by: Bathurst Kart Club