WILSONS PROMONTORY WALKING TRACK

Adjournment

My adjournment matter this evening is for the Minister for Environment, and the action I seek is for the minister to provide the necessary funding and approvals and impetus to Parks Victoria to speed up the replacement of the Sealers Cove walk at Wilsons Promontory. The track there was damaged by the storms in October 2021 and is currently not scheduled to reopen until 2024. Even then, the advice from Parks Victoria on its website is simply that year, 2024, and it is at the earliest 2024. So it could well be 2025 or years after. It is a concern to me that it will take so long. I have walked the Sealers Cove track before. I understand it is in a more remote area and difficult to get to by road – or not all by road. So in terms of getting construction in there, it will be difficult. I also appreciate it is largely through a swamp, so it is a complex project and I understand that. But to have to wait at least three years for this project to be completed at one of our world-class – probably the world-class – national parks here in the state which actually attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors, including many thousands of overseas visitors, I think is not good enough. It comes on the back of the issues that we have been raising in the budget estimates process, particularly on behalf of the member for Gippsland East: the Thurra River bridge at Croajingolong and the Cape Conran boardwalk and cabins at Cape Conran that have still not been rebuilt, and indeed in the case of the last two have not even got a time line for when they will be rebuilt after the 2019–20 fires.

I put this in contrast to a media release that the minister issued last week about the $21 million urban parks active wellbeing program being completed. When it is an urban project we can build the rock walls and the playgrounds and the refurbished and upgraded toilets that are part of that project, but when it is something in a part of regional Victoria that is critical to our tourism offering, Parks Victoria is extremely slow. This is, I think, not good enough. I might add that there is a suspicion among many regional Victorians that Parks Victoria does not actually want humans in our national parks, and delays like this only go to reinforce that suspicion.

Mary-Anne Thomas: Wrong!

Danny O’BRIEN: Well, if I am wrong, Minister, then please talk to your colleague the Minister for Environment and actually make sure that this does get done on a reasonable time line. I think to say three years for the replacement of that track, a very popular track in Wilsons Promontory, is not reasonable. It needs to be sped up.

Answer

Answered: 24 April 2023

I am advised that:

Wilsons Promontory National Park experienced widespread storm and flood damage during 2021 and 2022 which resulted in the closure of the Sealers Cove walking track including a 2-kilometre section of boardwalk.

An engineering assessment of the damage to the 2-kilometre boardwalk section of the walking track has recommended its complete replacement. I can confirm that design work and statutory approvals are currently underway for the replacement of the boardwalk and that repairs to the remainder of the Sealers Cove track are now complete.

I’m advised by Parks Victoria that while the Sealers Cove walking track provides the most direct access to Sealers Cove and its overnight hiking campground, alternate access to Sealers Cove is available via Refuge Cove which is a 25km hike from Telegraph Saddle.

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