Victoria, Australia — Acting Premier and Minister for Environment, John Thwaites, has announced that key attractions in the Grampians National Park are open for Easter after the devastating fires earlier this year.
Speaking at Mackenzie Falls in the Park, Mr Thwaites encouraged visitors to return to the Grampians, experience the wonderful natural environment and support the economy of the fire affected region.
“It is fantastic to see the positive results from the recovery work done since the fire, including projects funded through the Government’s Ministerial Bushfire Taskforce,” Mr Thwaites said.
“The Bushfire Taskforce has allocated $450,000 to re-open visitor facilities within the Grampians National Park and a number of popular sites are now opening to the public.
“I can announce today that Mackenzie Falls kiosk and walking track, Boronia Peak walking track, Chataqua Peak walking track, Venus Baths North walking track, Clematis Falls walking tracks and Victoria Range Four Wheel Drive track will be open for Easter.
“Boroka Lookout, Balconies walking track, Reed’s Lookout, Friar’s Creek Loop, Delleys Bridge Track, Mount William Road and other tracks and roads have also been re-opened since the fire.
“It’s estimated that the Grampians National Park provides economic benefit in the order of $246 million dollars annually to the regional economy.
“It’s vital we get this important industry back up and running with the support of Victorians and other visitors.”
Member for Ripon, Joe Helper, congratulated local rangers, volunteers and staff from Brambuk the National Park and Cultural Centre – who have played a major role in the recovery effort underway since fires burnt 130,000 ha of the Grampians.
“More than a million dollars has also been allocated to extend the work of summer fire crews, with 100 Department of Sustainability and Environment firefighters staying on for an extra two months to focus on public safety issues including tree risk mitigation, site clean-up, walking track repair and road works,” Mr Helper said.
The scale and variety of work required in fire recovery is huge in both the short and long term, including:
Assessing damage and rebuilding infrastructure such as bridges, fencing, tracks, toilets, roads and car parks.
Monitoring threats to ecosystems by pest plants and animals and readdressing park management programs including fox and rabbit control.
Protection of this area’s rich cultural heritage is also a key priority, as the Grampians National Park is home to a number of significant Indigenous sites, including the highest concentration of rock art sites in Victoria.
Mr Thwaites said $75,000 had been allocatedto assess and protect fire-affected cultural values and sites.
“The involvement of indigenous tour operators and traditional owners will be an important part of this process,” he said.
Mr Thwaites said the Government had provided a $10.8 million recovery package for Victoria’s fire-affected regions.