By Melissa Sheil
CITY of Kalamunda council voted to extend the temporary vehicle closure of Zig Zag Scenic Drive to May 31, 2021 at their Ordinary Council Meeting on October 27.
The popular tourism destination has become a hotspot for antisocial behaviour over recent years, with residents reporting crowds gathering under the influence of drugs and alcohol, littering, starting fires and damaging the natural environment of the lookout.
The road was initially closed to vehicles on May 30, 2020 for a six-month period while council gauged community thought via surveys and submissions, with 1337 survey responses and 36 submissions received.
Alongside the extended closure, a committee known as the Zig Zag Improvement Reference Group is set to begin meetings on November 9.
Consisting of Kalamunda MLA Matthew Hughes, community representatives from the top and bottom of the Zig Zag, Mayor Margaret Thomas, Councillor Cameron Blair, some senior City staff and a representative from the Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions (DCBA), the committee will review the community submissions and consider solutions during the six-month closure.
Councillor Blair said he believes activation of the area is key.
“If we can get in some food and coffee trucks and have loads of kids and families there, the unsavoury group is likely to leave as they will have too many eyes on them,” he said.
“The Rotary Lookout used to be the same but after we activated it with similar things, it stabilised, and people can enjoy it again.
“The Zig Zag is a jewel in the crown of Kalamunda and we’ve lost ownership but hopefully we can use this time to process the surveys and understand exactly what it is the people want and find a way to keep both sides of the coin happy.”
Councillor Thomas stated that the area has a long history of issues with antisocial behaviour but has deteriorated further over recent years.
“According to the WA Police, during the previous last six months there have been 74 reported incidents that have required police attention at the Zig Zag Scenic Drive,” she said.
“Projects showed promising signs of improvement early on, however the ongoing issues relating to hooning and antisocial activity in the area have continued to be in the spotlight.”
On October 26, three men held up a family parked at the Zig Zag, threatening them before stealing mobile phones and jewellery and running off towards Ocean View parade.
Resident Ray Wittenbaker said living near the Zig Zag is like a nightmare.
“We are running the gauntlet every night just to get into our house,” he said.
“It has gotten a lot better since the temporary closure, but they’ve moved the problem up the hill to us where they leave their cars and ignore all the signs.”
A few weeks ago, Mr Wittenbaker was assaulted by a couple who took offence to being photographed littering.
After an argument, the woman grabbed his keys from his car and threw them in a bush but when Mr Wittenbaker reached to retrieve them, the man pushed him to the ground face-down and repeatedly punched the back of his head in an effort to take the phone.
Despite going to hospital for a concussion and injuries to his head, Mr Wittenbaker said he was lucky.
“Fortunately, I only fell down and took a few hits but I’m quite fit and agile, if it was anyone older you can see how this could have gone very differently,” he said.
“My wife has gone out there and had horrible abuse yelled at her, they followed her back to the house and were knocking on the door – I’m worried it might escalate one day.
“I’m very impressed with the City, they’re doing the best they can but it’s hard to find a solution that will work for everyone.”
It is not just the residents that are being harrassed, with two kangaroos tortured, killed and left on the side of the road in 2019.
Resident Beth Ashbolt said the closure was due to dozens of reasons.
“There is a total disrespect for flora, fauna and the general environment,” she said.
“But the volume of cars and the speed in which they race down Lascelles Parade and the Zig Zag is also a major concern.”
The land in question is governed by the DCBA under Parks and Wildlife Services meaning no permanent changed can be officially made by the City of Kalamunda alone.