Selected parks reopening in time for long weekend
Friday 6 March, 2020
Rapid recovery work in parks burnt during recent bushfires has allowed Parks Victoria to reopen sections of fire-damaged parks to day visitors.
Selected areas in Cape Conran, Buchan Caves, Croajingolong, Snowy River, and sites around Mallacoota, will be reopened in time for the long weekend. These parks are significant for Gippsland communities and the local tourism economy.
Parks Victoria has pulled together recovery teams to carry out immediate clean-up, and to also pinpoint what rebuilding work needs to happen before the more severely affected parks are reopened.
The teams are out in affected parks assessing fire damage to physical assets such as buildings, bridges, fences and signs. Teams are also clearing up fallen trees and demolishing unsafe structures left in the wake of the fires.
Safety of staff and visitors is a high priority for Parks Victoria. Impact assessments look at a range of public safety risks from damaged assets, hazardous trees, and other safety hazards.
Visitors are advised to visit the fire-affected parks page on https://www.parks.vic.gov.au/get-into-nature/safety-in-nature/fire-affected-parks for the latest information. Visitors are also reminded not to venture beyond those areas opened, as they could potentially be exposed to dangerous trees or other hazards.
Priority works in East Gippsland have been supported by teams from Forest Fire Management Victoria (FFMV), Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP) and Gunaikurnai Land and Waters Aboriginal Corporation (GLaWAC) aimed at restoring popular locations in time for the upcoming long weekend.
Note: correct as at 6 March 2020. For current information, please visit the fire affected parks page.
Buchan Caves Reserve
Buchan Caves underground tours will be available again from Saturday 7 March for Royal and Federal Caves only. Bookings can be made at www.parkstay.vic.gov.au.
Visitors are able to stay overnight in the campground as well as book the historic Caves House. Fairy Cave underground tours will recommence once the entrance is rebuilt.
Cape Conran Coastal Park
The East Cape Day Area and the Yerrung River beach access point will be accessible from Saturday 7 March 2020.
Works for the West Cape Day Area including the popular Salmon Rocks site are currently being prepared, where we will rebuild temporary access and we anticipate a mid-March reopening for this area.
The Banksia Bluff campground and cabins will remain closed for the upcoming Easter and school holidays, given the major infrastructure loss incurred.
Snowy River National Park
The Raymond Creek Falls day visitor area has been reopened following the completion of road access and hazardous tree assessments.
The rest of the Snowy River National Park remains closed.
Croajingolong National Park
Limited access is being restored to the popular Narrows Walking Track. The teams have undertaken tree risk works opening up a short length of track extending north from Bucklands Jetty providing access for fishers.
Camping and accommodation
The Peachtree Creek Reserve campground and jetty have reopened, with exception of the Tamboon Inlet remote camping sites, which requires further hazard tree treatment.
Gabo Island Lighthouse Reserve and cottages accommodation is open for accommodation bookings
The Point Hicks Lighthouse Reserve along with the cottages accommodation will not be accessible until the access bridge at Thurra River is completely rebuilt.
Quotes, attributed to Acting Regional Director Eastern Victoria Chris Corbell
“We understand the recovery process may appear to be a slow process, but there is a considerable amount of work and planning involved, to ensure we get the full picture and the job is completed safely and efficiently.
“For sites like Point Hicks and Cape Conran, we look forward to engaging with our communities throughout the recovery process for ideas and suggestions on how we can improve the park offerings for the future.”
Quotes attributed to Senior Recovery Manager, Matt Berry, Parks Victoria:
“Our teams are working hard. We have people from all over the state and all parts of the organisation putting their hand up to assist with recovery work in the field, which is great to see and means we can get parks open quicker. Many of our staff have been on the front-line fighting these fires and have then gone straight back to work on re-opening places like Buchan Caves and Cape Conran. I couldn’t be more proud of the work that they’re doing.”
“Our priority is to safely reopen parks as quickly as we can for the public to enjoy. However, a number of parks have been severely impacted by recent bushfires, risks such as hazardous trees means some sections will remain closed for some time.”
“Once our staff are able to safely enter parks, we’re assessing the extent of the damage, to work out what repair work or asset replacement needs to be done and lodge claims with our insurers where needed.”
“Due to the extent of the damage, in some cases it could be at least 12 months before we can reconstruct overnight accommodation, bridges, offices and other assets.”