Lost walkers will be fined $300

By ED SOUTHORN

TWO Gold Coast men who triggered an emergency services search after they became lost on Mt Warning on Sunday will each be fined $300.

It is the first time climbers of Mt Warning have been fined under national parks legislation for leaving the iconic mountain's marked walking track.

Heralding a crackdown on illegal walkers, officials said anyone else who gets lost on Mt Warning from now on and causes a major search after leaving the marked track will also be fined.

The NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service Tweed area manager James Law yesterday said Sunday's lost walkers ? John Clark, 26, of Southport, and Nick Murtas, 24, of Broadbeach, members of a corporate training group ? had ignored signs along the marked track warning that leaving the track was not permitted.

Mr Law said the signs advised that leaving the marked track could cause erosion, harm plants including threatened species, and result in costly search operations.

He said that Mt Warning ranger Alan Goodwin had interviewed the two men, lost for five hours on Sunday morning, soon after they emerged from the bush and told them they would be sent infringement notices.

"People are doing the wrong thing deliberately, they don't care," Mr Law said.

"And there are loose rocks, so a couple of clowns dodging the track could easily cause trouble for others."

Mr Law said there were two searches for lost climbers on Mt Warning last year and the NPWS had now decided any other lost climbers who triggered searches after leaving the marked track would also be fined.

"There's no doubt popularity of the mountain has not waned," he said.

"It gets busy up there."

He said about 20 emergency services searchers and the Westpac rescue chopper were involved in Sunday's rescue.



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