The Great North Walk Bushwalkers At Risk Of Stray Bullets From Firing Range

18/04/2016 6:04 PM AEST | Updated 15/07/2016 12:51 PM AEST
Sarah Keayes / Fairfax Media

The Great North Walk is one of the most popular tracks in Australia. There's even a t-shirt for people who've finished the trail from Sydney to Newcastle.

So the closure of a segment of the track is a big concern, even if it is because stray bullets could ping by from a nearby firing range.

Documents released under freedom-of-information laws from 1995 showed bushwalkers were at "unacceptable" risk from bullets fired by Hornsby Rifle Range for an 800m stretch of the track, and presumably had been so since the 90s.

Police found the 115-year-old rifle range was operating outside safety standards, and its "danger area" had crossed into the adjacent National Park so three tracks were closed, effectively severing the Great North Walk.

Matt McClelland, who wrote 'The Great North Walk' and has completed the track several times, told The Huffington Post Australia a steering committee was looking for solutions to keep the firing range complying and the bush walkers walking.

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"I don't know of a walk anywhere else in the world that goes through pristine bush land so close to a capital city," McClelland said.

"There was always a 25km stretch right on edge of Sydney where bush walkers weren't stepping on a single road but now, with a diversion around the rifle range, you can get get about 7km and then step on a road.

"It really breaks up that sense of wilderness."

A steering committee is currently looking at creating a detour around the range, or limiting the shooting range's capabilities.

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