State-wide storm response continues as rangers tackle extensive damages

Friday 13 August, 2021

Just over two months after a severe weather event brought down hundreds of trees and branches, damaged unique visitor infrastructure and left vast amounts of debris across Victorian parks such as the Dandenong Ranges, our rangers have removed and repaired several kilometres-worth of destruction caused to sites managed by Parks Victoria.

While their tireless work – which includes damage assessments, clearing of tracks, fence line clearing and safety works such as hand rail replacement – has led to positive and ongoing progress since the June 9 storm, many parks and walking tracks remain closed for public safety.

As our rangers work to identify and remove complex dangers, please follow signage and stay out of fenced-off and closed areas. Do not put yourself at risk of serious injury or death, and do not put at risk the emergency responders that will have to come and rescue you.

Uprooted tree blocking Mathias Track at Dandenong Ranges National Park

Uprooted tree blocking Mathias Track at Dandenong Ranges National Park – credit Jacque Quaine

Dandenong and Yarra Ranges

William Ricketts Sanctuary and the popular 1000 Steps in the Dandenong Ranges National Park were the sites hardest hit and they remain closed.

At William Ricketts Sanctuary, large eucalyptus and mountain ash trees have damaged more than 30 of the unique clay sculptures created by the artist William Ricketts. The public toilets, original residence, Stone Studio and Kiln have also been damaged, as well as fencing, pathways, and handrails.

While the Sanctuary will need to remain closed as Parks Victoria crews carry out the significant work needed to make it safe for visitors, the neighbouring Dandenong Ranges Botanic Gardens – home to a staggering 15,000 rhododendrons, 12,000 azaleas, 3,000 camellias and 250,000 daffodils during the spring and summer seasons – are open.

With the support of crews from the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP), our rangers have cleared more than 100-kilometres of roads, walking trails and picnic grounds throughout the Dandenong and Yarra Ranges District. However, popular sites such as the 1000 Steps and Sassafras Creek Nature Conservation Reserve, as well as the Olinda Falls Picnic Grounds, were so badly damaged that it will take rangers a few more months to clear fallen trees, with additional time required to complete repairs.

Additionally, internal tracks to the west of Monbulk Road in Sherbrooke Forest remain closed.

Macedon Ranges and Lerderderg State Park

North west of Melbourne, the wild weather led to the closure of Macedon Regional Park and the popular Trentham Falls, with hundreds of fallen trees littered across the site. Ongoing tree fall, unstable ground conditions, and damage to popular visitor areas such as Harbisons Picnic Ground and other day visitor sites will require long-term planning and works. Specialist assessment and treatment of hazardous trees is required for visitor areas to be deemed safe for the public to use.

Parks Victoria, DELWP and VicForests crews are making good progress at the Macedon Regional Park and Lerderderg State Park, with more than 50-kilometres of trails and some roads checked and cleared. This includes Scout Camp and the local park areas of Log Dump and Police Paddocks. Sections of the Hepburn Regional Park and Lerderderg State Park are open while arborist and safety assessments continue. Works to re-open roads and tracks are focused on reinstating access for emergency vehicles ahead of the summer months.

Opening Cameron Drive, Harbison Picnic Ground and Trentham Falls remains a top priority for our crews.

Storm damage to Cameron Drive at Macedon Regional Park

Storm damage to Cameron Drive at Macedon Regional Park – credit Nancy Peplow

Kinglake National Park

Work at Kinglake National Park, located on the slopes of the Great Dividing Range, is ongoing and some areas remain closed.Significant rain causing flooding and wind damage has impacted The Gums Campground, including Cicada Circuit and Blackfish Way track, as well as the Andrews Hill area – which includes Mountain Creek, Andrews Hill, Dusty Miller and Stringybark tracks – resulting in their closure. The Burgan, Scentbark and Candlebark tracks are also affected.

Rangers are working hard to clear debris and safely re-open each site by late October.

Clean-up efforts toward the viewing platform at Wombelano Falls

Clean-up efforts toward the viewing platform at Wombelano Falls – credit Andrew Sawicki 

Morwell National Park

To the east, rangers have made excellent progress, with plans for a partial re-opening of Morwell National Park to be executed by late August. Skilled arborists will be employed to complete work on more complex, hazardous tree removal that require specialist climbing skills in the coming weeks.

For those seeking an alternative adventure in the region, rangers have completed safety and risk assessments at Baw Baw National Park, Tyres State Park, Mount Worth State Park, Dowds Morass, Walhalla Historic Area, as well as the Alpine National Park, Moondara State Park, Lakes National Park and Mirboo Regional Park.

Holey Plains State Park and Tarra Bulga National Park are also open, with existing closures at Wattle Track, Wild Cherry Track and Tarra Valley West Track Loop.

Storm damage to Kerry Road picnic area at Morwell National Park

Storm damage to Kerry Road picnic area at Morwell National Park – credit Parks Victoria

Parks Victoria will continue to work with Bushfire Recovery Victoria and DELWP to ensure a coordinated response on public land. Fire crews are also focused on state-wide clearing of fuel breaks and green waste debris before summer, to ensure long-term protection of the Parks Victoria estate.

If you have concerns about the safety of a tree on land managed by Parks Victoria that may impact your property, please contact us on 13 1963. We will assess the tree and determine whether any works are required. For clean-up support on residential and private properties, please visit: www.vic.gov.au/storm-clean-up-program

If your favourite park is closed, visit Places to See for alternative places to visit.

For the latest information on which parks remain closed, visit the Safety in Nature page, or for detailed information on track closures, look at the change of conditions on individual park pages.

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