If you’re planning on driving along Broome’s beautiful Cable Beach, you’ll have to think again. The Yawuru Park Council has recommended a ban on all cars driving on Cable Beach during the months of December 2022 and January 2023. The Broome Shire is set to make the final decision, so stay tuned, but for now assume that it’s off the cards.
Why the ban?
The reason? December and January are peak turtle nesting seasons where 80% of hatching occurs. Unsurprisingly, vehicles pose an immediate threat to the turtles that are trying to nest on the beach by both scaring them away through noise and lights and of course, via direct impact to a turtle.
The deep tyre tracks left by tourists looking for the spectacular sunsets also create a detrimental obstacle for little hatchlings who are trying to make their way to the sea. Unfortunately, newly hatched turtles have a very limited supply of energy, so the harder the trip to the sea, the less energy they’re left with when they get there. What that means is they’re at a greater risk of being attacked by predators in the water.
Overnight closures made a difference
The decision hasn’t emerged out of the blue; Parks and Wildlife staff have a year reviewing the impact cars are having on the turtles born on Cable Beach. In 2009, the Broome Shire installed a gate to close the beach overnight during the turtle nesting season. They found overnight closures to be a great success, however the tyre tracks left during the day were still trapping the hatchlings. In order to give the turtles the best chance of survival, cars will be banned from the beach for two months, with the exception of the southernmost section near Gantheaume Point.
In the meantime, if you’re headed to Cable Beach, leave a clear and generous space between your vehicle and the sea. Don’t drive below the high tide mark and stay as far away from the nests as you can. Although it’s a pleasure and a privilege to take our vehicles to these gorgeous, scenic areas on our travels, we need to remember that the space is shared. Being mindful of the wildlife that reside in these areas, makes sure that they’ll continue to populate and allows the beach to be shared harmoniously. Plus, Cable Beach wouldn’t be what it is without the beautiful turtles, so let’s keep it that way.