Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 07 Hansard (Thursday, 24 June 2021) . . Page.. 1998 ..
Representative Aboriginal organisations, traditional custodians and heritage specialists have been engaged to assess any damage to cultural sites and artefacts from the fire and floods. Popular areas within the park, including Bulls Head, Square Rock and Gibraltar Falls, were made safe and reopened within nine months of the fire.
Staff worked tirelessly through COVID and the March 2021 floods, and in April 2021, just in time for the Easter school holidays, we were able to welcome back visitors to almost all of the park. The commitment from staff to recovering the park’s assets has resulted in the park opening two years ahead of schedule. This was an extraordinary effort, and I thank the staff for all of their hard work.
In May 2020 the ACT government approved $305,000 to improve catchment health and $1.066 million for critical infrastructure works impacted by the fires. I am pleased to say that these funds have now been fully committed to projects that will greatly improve the visitor experience, reduce sediment from entering our waterways and, importantly, help safeguard the park against the impacts of climate change.
Approximately 70 kilometres of walking trails were impacted by the fire and flooding events. Fifty kilometres of the worst-affected trails have been repaired, with further improvements planned under the three-year “build back better” initiative. The refurbishment of the Mount Tennent walking track, one of the ACT’s most popular bushwalks, is well underway. Wooden bridges have been replaced with steel, log stairs with rock and, consistent with our “build back better” principle, an additional and exciting new section of the walk will be completed in the coming weeks.
The new section avoids the fire trail and leads walkers to the summit via rocky outcrops, and offers incredible, uninterrupted views towards Canberra and southern Namadgi. The walk is already experiencing unprecedented numbers of walkers and on the night of the recent “blood moon” hundreds of walkers made their way to the summit to witness the event. We continue to receive incredibly positive feedback from the public who have visited popular walking trails, including Booroomba Rocks, Mount Tennent, Mount Gingera, Gibraltar Falls, Rendezvous Creek and the Australian Alps walking trail.
The entire south-east of Australia was fortunate that good rains have aided the recovery of so many fire-impacted areas. In the spring of 2020, Namadgi saw one of the most prolific spring flowering events in years. In other parts of the park, we have had to turn our hand to active intervention. Specifically, our bogs and fens, which are home to a range of precious alpine wildlife and vital for Canberra’s water supply, have been the subject of major works over the last 18 months. In a truly collaborative partnership, our rangers, scientists and community have placed shade cloth over sphagnum moss to accelerate regrowth and reduce mortality in the most impacted areas and placed coir logs in drainage lines to trap and slow water, thus keeping priority alpine “kidneys” wet and healthy.
We have also increased efforts to control invasive weeds and pest animals, including deer and pigs. In the wake of the bushfires, deer have become a major threat to recovering, sensitive riparian ecosystems and to water quality. I am pleased to report