Impacts of coronavirus COVID 19 on Victoria's Parks

Thursday 19 March, 2020

Measures implemented in response to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) 

In line with the advice of the Victorian Chief Health Officer, Parks Victoria has implemented new public safety measures to protect visitors, volunteers, customers and staff in response to coronavirus (COVID-19). This includes an update on urgent closures of major visitor sites.

Effective from today, following instruction from the Victorian Chief Health Officer on ensuring that no public gatherings of 500 or more people occur, the following visitor sites are affected until further notice: 

- The Twelve Apostles Visitor Centre and lookouts will be closed to visitors immediately. The carpark and toilets at the visitor centre will remain open. Access to the Great Ocean Road and other visitor attractions are currently unaffected.  

- The penguin viewing platform at St Kilda Pier has been closed until further notice - fencing is now in place along the breakwater preventing access to the penguin viewing platform. The pier remains open. 

- 1000 Steps, the Dandenong Ranges Botanic Garden (formerly known as the Rhododendron Garden) and the William Ricketts Sanctuary in the Dandenong Ranges National Park will be closed until further notice.  

- Mackenzie Falls in the Grampians National Park will be closed for the duration of the term two school holiday period (28 March – 13 April 2020).  

Due to the rapidly changing nature of the situation, Parks Victoria staff will monitor visitation rates with the possibility of further changes to park closures, pending advice from health authorities.  

Parks Victoria public programs, including ranger-led school excursions and events will be postponed for the period from Tuesday 17 March until further notice – this includes school excursions, Junior Rangers activities, Australian Heritage Festival, welcome walks, guided tours, citizen science and Parks Victoria-led volunteer programs. Parks Victoria will work with organisers of events being held in locations across the estate to ensure that they are aware of the limit on gatherings of over 500 people.  

The historic mansion at Werribee (excluding the hotel) will be closed to visitors but the gardens remain open. 

From 19 March 2020 tours in the Buchan Caves at the Buchan Caves Reserve and tours of the State Coal Mine will be suspended until further notice to ensure the safety of staff and volunteers. The Buchan campsite remains open.  

The vast majority of the remainder of parks will remain open, however, it is recommended ‘social distancing’ be practiced and those with flu-like symptoms follow the advice from Victoria’s Chief Health Officer and remain at home. These steps are being taken as a public health precaution in support of measures to contain coronavirus (COVID-19), especially for those in the community who are most vulnerable. 

Parks Victoria has arrangements in place to ensure business continuity, this includes ongoing urgent recovery efforts in bushfire affected parks, essential maintenance and visitor services as well as firefighting. 

For more information visit our park closures and affected visitor sites page. 

Quotes, attributed to Matthew Jackson, Parks Victoria CEO 
“It’s unfortunate to be announcing these closures as I know how important these sites are for our community, but this is a rapidly changing situation and we need to act swiftly to ensure our visitors, staff and volunteers are protected.”  

“These are unprecedented and challenging times, and it’s important for us to all do our bit to implement the advice of health officials and authorities to ensure we keep each other safe.”   

“Once we are through this very serious health emergency, we look forward to welcoming back visitors to our special places and protecting our remarkable parks for future generations to enjoy.” 

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