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Why is the Anakie Gorge Walk Closed?

Anakie-Gorge-Walk

Anakie-Gorge-Walk

The January 2011 rains did a considerable amount of damage across the state and Parks Victoria (and other public land managers) correctly responded by limiting access to a number of parks and reserves while risk assessments were carried out. In some cases parks were closed in their entirety (You Yangs Regional Park and Mount Beckworth Scenic Reserve spring to mind). The Grampians National Park was also hard hit with landslips cutting key access roads and some popular walking trails. In March further deluges and high winds saw Wilsons Promontory National Park closed. Recently there has been some criticism in the media questioning why Parks Victoria are taking so long to reopen walking trails and other infrastructure. I understand that risk assessments are necessary (and take time) but what I can’t understand is why some trails are closed for so long afterwards.

A good example of what I feel is an unnecessary trail closure is the Anakie Gorge Walk in the Brisbane Ranges National Park. The Brisbane Ranges suffered quite a bit of damage earlier this year and the Anakie Gorge Walk was closed when its steel bridges and long sections of paved trail were washed away. Prior to this the Anakie Gorge Walk was probably the most popular trail in the park as it linked Anakie Gorge and Stony Creek Picnic Grounds (about 3.1km one way). A great deal of time and money had been spent bringing the trail up to a very high walking trail standard. I’ve always suspected that building such a costly trail in the confines of a narrow-sided gorge (that is by its very nature prone to extreme periods of flooding) was asking for trouble. The recent floods confirmed my suspicions. In the months following the flood a great deal of tree debris was cleared away. As it now stands the Anakie Gorge Walk is very easy to follow having only a few rock-hopping creek crossings to contend with. No big deal. Most average bushwalkers wouldn’t even blink an eyelid at these ‘difficulties’ and there is absolutely no reason that I can think of as to why the walk is still closed.

Anakie-Gorge-WalkOf course Parks Victoria must consider safety and liability issues and I understand some of their concerns. On the other hand let’s be sensible about this. A sign could be erected stating that flood damage has occurred to the original walking trail and that walkers should proceed with care. I’m sure Parks Victoria fully intend to rebuild the bridges and surfaces in the gorge once the funding is allocated. But my 100,000 dollar question (only a wild guesstimate) is how long will it take for the funding to be allocated? I suspect it will be a long wait. I also have to question the need to rebuild this walk up to the previously high standard it enjoyed. It will most likely only get washed away again in the future. Such high-quality walking trails have a place in metropolitan parks, but I need a lot more convincing that they need to be built in locations such as Anakie Gorge. What we really need are increased funds for maintaining trails that already exist. I guess my question to Parks Victoria is pretty simple. If the vast majority of walkers can still safely enjoy the Anakie Gorge Walk why is it still closed?

11 thoughts on “Why is the Anakie Gorge Walk Closed?

  1. This makes for interesting reading, as reported in the Geelong Advertiser, Aug 19 2008.

    Destroyed by fire in 2006 and damaged once again by floods in 2007, the Anakie Gorge Walk has undergone more than its fair share of disasters.

    http://www.geelongadvertiser.com.au/article/2008/08/19/17351_news.html

    Surely this time Parks Victoria will decide to leave it as a basic walking trail and not waste too much more money on it.

  2. I agree wholeheartedly. I ventured past the barriers about a month ago (feeling guilty as I did so), and had no difficulty following the bank of the creek. The formerly wheelchair-accessible track is completely washed away, as is one of the steel bridges, but it is a very pleasant walk for average able-bodied people. It is entirely unnecessary to keep it closed, as with clear signs explaining the state of the track, most people can walk there. Surely there must be areas better suited to creating wheelchair-accessible walks in this area, such as a section out of the Stony Creek Picnic area or from Switch Road along the ridge top to the lookout on Nelson Track, which would be easier to maintain and less prone to washing away all that expensive work!

  3. in fact although a couple of the bridges are washed away the track is open from the Stony Creek picnic ground end as far as the Nelson track turn off. Definitely not wheel chair accessible but open…so you can still do the 8kms nature circuit. Which we did yesterday 25/10/11.

  4. We were checking it out with my teenage son for his hike with his mates in his (unnamed) youth organisation- unnamed so there can be no repercussions about going around the barrier! They used this to link to The Burchell Trail, completing the rest of the trail heading west then south to Steiglitz, camping at The Old Mill walk in site. Had a great trip by all accounts, & completed part of the award they were doing. Not using that short stretch of Anakie Gorge was going to change substantially the route plan, distances, drop off details etc. Far simpler to just do that section, and of course, for 16-17 year olds, completely within their abilities.

  5. HI

    I assume in order to have your question answered, you contacted PV.

    They would have explained to you that repairs have not been carried out to the walking track because of planned discharges off the Lower Stony Creek Reservoir that recently has been acquired from Barwon Water. One of the valves (forgot which one) needs maintenance and in order to do this the whole reservoir needs to be drained. These discharges will cause a clean out of the system, but also damage to the walking track and infrastructure.

    Nobody likes to waist money, so repairs will only be carried out once, after the discharges of course. This isn’t an easy pro cess (first the land had to be handed over, etc.) and takes a great deal of time.

    Why isn’t it open in the mean time: liability of course… putting up signage does not change liability…

    1. Thanks for the update Alex.
      I did call PV and also chatted to a couple of my PV contacts. None of them indicated that the walk had been closed because of a planned discharge of the Lower Stony Creek Reservoir. In fact I’m sure that none of them knew about it at the time.

      My main points still stand however, The vast majority of walkers would have no problems on this trail and I have to question the need to rebuild this walk up to the previously high standard it enjoyed since it will no doubt get washed away again in the future. As for liability, I agree with you. This is an unfortunate reflection on our society where nobody seems to want to take responsibility for their own actions.

  6. Great website by the way!

  7. Glenn,

    Not sure who your PV contacts are but they are not up to speed. The Lower Stony Creek Reservoir is currently being drained to allow for the maintenance work to be carried out. Note that only the dam wall remins the property and under the control of Barwon Water. The remainder of the dam and it’s catchment was handed over to the national park in August 2010.

    The reason for the long delay in cleaning up and reopening the gorge is that they didn’t want to do the repair work before the dam was drained. It was (and is) a possibility that the draining water could cause further damage to the track. Barwon Water had to negotiate with ALL downstream property owners to agree on the highest acceptable release rate from the dam and this took some time. They want the dam empty for the shortest possible time, otherwise the dam wall could move without the water pressure keeping it in place.

    You can take this opportunity to have a look at the dam site while it is empty. It doesn’t happen very often.

  8. As I read the above posts the dam was drained in Jan 2012(?) and was to be “empty for the shortest possible time” yet according to the ‘PV Anakie Gorge website’ the gorge is still closed from the Anakie picnic area to the Stony Creek picnic area.
    This means that far from being reopened even more of the gorge has been closed off since my last post in October 2011.
    I fully agree with Glen the track is not a problem for regular walkers and I can think of many walks under the control of Parks Victoria that offer greater degrees of difficulty than this.

    1. I hear you Brian. Parks Victoria will soon have more ‘closed’ walks than ‘open’ walks. Of course only a cynic would think that PV is doing this deliberately to save money!

  9. I was there mid November 2012 and it was still closed.
    Of course that didn’t deter me and I walked it, wondering all the time WTH is this closed? Save for a few puddles, the gorge was completely dry and any six-year-old could walk it without breaking a sweat.

    So at least in the dry season, there’s absolutely no reason for the trail to be closed.

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