“It’s about raising awareness on track closures,” Roothy explains.
Roothy, who established Unlock Australia in 2013, has long campaigned to protect the public’s right to access the bush. In 2014, Roothy helped assemble outdoor enthusiasts travelling in an estimated 5000 4WDs, utes, cars and trail bikes to an Unlock Australia rally at Stockton, to protest a ban on camping in the Stockton Bight in 2012. Two years later, with help from the local community, Unlock Australia was represented on the committee negotiating with the Worimi Conservation Lands council for the establishment of 30 campsites that were formally announced in a 10-year management plan released in November last year.
Liberal Democrats Senator David Leyonhjelm has pledged to assist Roothy and Unlock Australia to stem and reverse vehicular and walk-in restrictions applied to national parks and on crown land.
Roothy says locking up the bush not only prevents members of the public from enjoying publically-owned land but also creates difficulties in minimising fire risks and safeguarding the biodiversity of the very flora and fauna a lot of this legislation sets out to protect.
“I’ve seen the deterioration caused by these lockups. Closures are administered by distant government bodies that aren’t always capable of managing feral animals or weeds.
"We’ve got Lantana on most of the east coast, running rampant through the Blue Mountains and in particular on the old fire trails and camping ground around creeks that have been shut down. Lantana just shut places off; it strangles everything, its gets to a point where you can’t walk down a track. And on my last trip to the Simpson Desert I saw massive changes – three feral cats in four days and very little native wildlife. Even in remote Jabiru country to the east of Kakadu my Indigenous mates reckon cats and pigs are taking over everything.
“The bush should be a free asset. That’s where we Australians get our solitude.”