More parks reopen as storm response continues

Parks Victoria

The impact of last year’s storm events on parks, reserves, gardens and marine sites in Victoria was widespread resulting in park closures and significant damage, in particular from fallen trees, debris, floods, damaged powerlines and landslips.

Some 2 million hectares of public land was impacted in the June 2021 storm and flood event alone.

Among the areas most affected included Wombat State Forest, Macedon Regional Park, the Yarra and Dandenong Ranges and parts of Gippsland, western Victoria and the Mornington Peninsula.

Parks were also impacted by severe storms in October, and Parks Victoria has been working across all impacted parks and reserves to make them safe and, where possible reopen them.

Of the 52 parks and reserves impacted last June, only two remain completely closed in light of storm damage. Most parks have been re-opened though some areas still require repair work to make safe the strategic fire network, walking tracks, roads and visitor sites.

See below for a list of park conditions

Iconic walk re-opens, roads and tracks cleared

Parks Victoria has undertaken a strategic program of works across the state to repair roads, bridges and fencing, clear access tracks and rebuild assets such as amenity blocks, picnic and visitor sites.

Along the Great Ocean Walk, a 14km stretch between Johanna Beach to Ryans Den was reopened this month following two months of storm repair works. Boulders and large fallen trees had to be cleared after a section of rock cliff subsided. The iconic walk is fully re-opened between Apollo Bay and the Twelve Apostles.

In the Dandenongs and Yarra Ranges, Parks Victoria rangers have cleared more than 100km of roads, walking trails and picnic grounds. Work to restore access to park areas has seen multiple key access tracks cleared enabling safe and rapid response for emergency management vehicles.

Works continue at the Kokoda Track Memorial Walk (1000 Steps) and Olinda Falls picnic ground which remain closed due to the extensive storm damage. Notably, the nearby Lyrebird Track is open and available as an alternative experience to the 1000 Steps.

Our crews are working as fast as they can statewide and look forward to welcoming you back to sites when it is safe.

Before and after: Storm damage around Mt Dandenong Primary School was cleared so the school could reopen and to ensure fire preparedness.

Safety key focus of recovery task

Reflecting on the storms recovery task, Kylie Trott, Executive Director, Operations, said:

“The storms in June impacted more than 50 of our parks and reserves, leaving behind widespread damage and devastation to visitor sites, tracks, bridges, roads and crossings. On top of that many of our parks were impacted from severe storms in October.

“Despite the challenges and scale of the recovery task, often in trying conditions where access can be complex, Parks Victoria staff have made significant progress to repair assets and restore access to most of our parks, with an emphasis on making them safe for people to visit and enjoy.”

At Wilsons Promontory, the storm events caused significant tree hazards across the entire 190kms of the park’s walking track network. Rangers have since been able to re-open as many tracks as possible.

Work to clear large fallen trees along tracks at Wilsons Promontory.

Before and after: Storm damage was cleared and the pathway opened between Refuge and Sealers Cove at The Prom.

Before and after: Large fallen trees at Seawinds Gardens, Arthurs Seat, were removed and access restored.

A large boulder lying across a track through coastal bushland

The aftermath of the October storms – rockslide on the Great Ocean Walk.

A cliff landslide in coastal bushland on the Great Ocean Walk
A retaining wall beneath a cliff amid trees.

Before and after: Storm damage led to rockslides and closure of a section of the Great Ocean Walk from Johanna Beach to Ryans Den. A new retaining wall was built to reduce the risk of rockslides and reopen the section of track.

Work continues to restore park access

In East Gippsland, four significant storm and flood events since June have caused widespread damage to the track and trail network, campgrounds and visitor sites. Despite on-going works to restore access, more than 300km of vehicle track are still to be inspected and cleared due to seasonal road closures and repeat storm and wind events. Parks with extensive damage included Mitchell River National Park, Lake Tyers State Park, Macleod Morass Wildlife Reserve, Buchan Caves reserve, Alpine National Park, Cassilis Historic Area, Gippsland Lakes Coastal Reserve and Cape Conran Coastal Park.

As part of the storms response across the state, there has been work to assess, identify and clear thousands of hazardous trees, rocks and tonnes of debris from popular walking tracks and roads, while excavators have aided crews to move felled and heavy stumps. There has also been restoration work to fences, infrastructure, steps and bridges.

During recovery works, careful consideration in particular is given to ensure the balance between the removal of hazards and retention for environmental benefits, and works are carried out mindful of minimising any impact on environmental and cultural values. We recognise that fallen trees provide valuable habitat for our wildlife, and where appropriate, fallen trees and debris material important for protecting biodiversity values is left in place.

Safety remains Parks Victoria’s priority focus in determining when to reopen sites, and people are reminded not to enter closed parks or sites under any circumstances, as they are deemed unsafe until appropriate assessments are completed. Remember to observe signage and stay out of fenced or taped off areas, and report any instances of fallen or leaning trees and branches to Parks Victoria on 13 1963.

Parks and sites impacted by storm damage:

Below is a list of some parks and sites impacted by storm damage (as of mid-February 2022). Please check for any updated changes affecting the park you intend to visit by going directly to the individual park page on the Parks Victoria website. You can also visit the Safety in Nature page or contact the Parks Victoria Information Centre on 13 1963.

If your favourite place is closed there are still a lot of options for short walks, hikes and sightseeing across Victoria – visit Places to See for alternative places to visit, or visit Things to Do for more details.

Arthurs Seat State Park – park open; Kings Falls circuit walk is partly closed to visitors, accessible from Waterfall Gully Road or 2 Bays walking track

Coolart Historic area – park open, follow signs and barriers in place as some restrictions to specific areas and walking tracks remain.

Dandenong Ranges National Park – closures including Kokoda Memorial Track (1000 Steps), Olinda Falls picnic ground and car park, Valley Picnic Ground car park (open to pedestrians, no vehicle access) and some western Sherbrooke Forest tracks. William Ricketts Sanctuary closed.

Great Ocean Walk – open, including all booked campsites. Phillips Track open, and Triplet Falls and Little Aire Falls accessible via one way tracks. Loop track closed due to board walk damage – reopening scheduled for March 2022.

Great Otway National Park – some walking track restrictions remain place

Kinglake National Park – park open; bridge at eastern end of Mountain Creek Track is closed.

Macedon Regional Park – partial closure, some roads and tracks remain closed, including the section between Bawden Road and the Memorial Cross Reserve, as well as Hoods Track and Link 2 Track

Mornington Peninsula National Park – park open, follow signs and barriers in place as some remote walking tracks are partially restricted

Morwell National Park – Brewster and Braniffs Road entries, Grand Strzelecki Track and sections of Billy Creek Track are closed

Sale Common Nature Conservation Reserve – Heritage Trail and the boardwalk on the eastern side of the reserve are closed

Sassafras Creek Nature Conservation Reserve – Sassafras Creek walking trail temporarily closed

Tarra-Bulga National Park – Diaper Track is closed

Trentham Falls (Coliban River Scenic Reserve) – open; but the toilets at this site remain closed

Turpins Falls Scenic Reserve – site closure in place

Wilsons Promontory National Park –

  • Little Oberon Bay Walking Track is closed between Norman Point and Oberon Bay. The Oberon Bay Campsite is only accessible via Telegraph Saddle Walking Track
  • Stockyard Campsite is unavailable for overnight camping (the area remains open for access to Big Drift). All other campsites are open. Whisky Bay toilets are closed.
  • Sealers Cove Walking Track and Boardwalk closed between Telegraph Saddle and Sealers Cove. The Sealers Cove Campsite is only accessible via Refuge Cove which is a 25km hike from Telegraph Saddle.

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