All I see is potential!


So what does a glow worm look like? I actually have no idea!

How do they breed? Well I had to google that too, and I found it kind of interesting but in terms of re generating a colony, and how long there was not as much information.

Helensburgh Tunnel had been on my to shoot list for some time. I had seen an image by photographer Daniel Tran of a lush green tunnel that was full of water and a cascading waterfall down the side, I remember thinking it was breathtaking.

So why this location? Because they have actually closed in to the public because of Instagrammers, trophy hunters and anti social behaviour.

In May 2018, local council announced to the shock of the public that they were closing Helensburgh Tunnel, the issue was the decimation of a rare type of glow worm that inhabits the tunnel.

So how? Well a competition brew on social media in which instagrammers continually attempted to out do the next for likes and shares. The obsession the last few years with light painting, in particular steel wool, flares, lighting the track alight all in the name of photography. What resulted was almost the extinction of an entire rare colony of glow worms.

Arriving at the tunnel, I had had discussion with a couple of photographers about the tunnel, the local neighbourhood 1 group and landcare about the tunnel and what had been happening. But is don’t think I was prepared for what I saw. The sad state of the tunnel. Rubbish, the removal of railway sleepers, and the entire platform littered with garbage bags.

I set up for some photos while waiting for a photographer to arrive to give me some history and have a chat about the tunnel. I could see some bright lights in the tunnel, however it clearly states upon entry not to use torches in the tunnel, and face them at the ground.

After a few minutes a stream of vistors emerged. Obviously a tour group of some kind. Attached to there feet were rubbish bags. As the existed the tunnel and made there way up the platform I noticed the visitors removing the bags and continue walking. I didn’t think my of it at the time.

I kept shooting and heard the gate, I turned to notice a pile of garbage bags thrown and left on the platform. I abandoned my camera, and yelled at the last few visitors, one of which I think was the tour operator. I asked him to pick up his rubbish they left behind, but he continued to walk towards the bus.

After threatening to report him to the EPA and local council, and me taking a photo with my iPhone of his rego, he reluctantly walked in and collected the bags, mumbling as he returned to the bus. “how could he be so inconsiderate?”

I learnt that was the problem. Another 2 groups came through while I was in tunnel and all had the same mentality and had to be asked to clean up after themselves. How can we make rouge tour operators more accountable.

An English speaking visitor said to me it was a tour and they found them on WeChat. So maybe they are a rouge tour operator after all, charging $499 US dollars for a day tour to The Royal National Park including Helensburgh.

The sad thing is all I saw was potential, this sight could be so very beautiful and a great addition to the the town, but I also dont feel it should be left to groups of volunteers to maintain the facility and clean up after inconsiderate tour groups.

Is this part of the problem? Maybe a pattern is starting to emerge.