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Ginninderra Falls: How to open this treasure to the public?

By 16 July 2014 17

ginniderra-falls

Sometimes no matter how much we want something, real life just gets in the way. So it is with Ginninderra Falls, the beautiful bit of Kakadu right here in Canberra that has been closed for 10 years now despite everyone involved wishing it wasn’t.

In a recent RiotACT poll, 90% of you said you think Ginninderra Falls should be open to the public.

Local adventurer about town and supernatural investigator, Tim the Yowie Man wants it to be open to the public.

Landowners John and Anna Hyles have stated that they would like it to be open to the public again too, but in 2004 after three lawsuits by people injured on the site, insurance became unavailable or at least prohibitively expensive for the Hyles family to continue public access. Speaking to the Canberra Times, Anna Hyles said that the site could be made safe with upgrades such as walkways, rails and public facilities such as toilets but to get this kind of money requires the kind of funds only available to developers such as Riverview Group.

Recently, the Hyles family announced that they have been negotiating with developer Riverview Group to sell the beautiful 80ha of their property including the waterfall to form part of a residential development that will include magnificent park land, likely to take the form of a conservation area rather than formally recognised as National Park for the time being. Riverview Group spokesman David Maxwell told the Ginninderra Falls Association that 600 hectares of the rezoned land would be set aside for the conservation area, linking wildlife corridors from Molonglo River to the Murrumbidgee River and along Ginninderra Creek to Mulligans Flat. While the Ginninderra Falls Association would prefer to see a Murrumbidgee – Ginninderra Gorges National Park, the current proposal is a first step.

So we may now rejoice as a way has been found to re-open the falls! But there are many steps ahead.

The entire development needs to be approved. The ACT government are supportive and are beginning talks with the NSW government and Yass Valley Council. Early indications from NSW are positive but the wheels may spin slowly.

The first priority for the developers will be to get some houses built and sold, with the budget for completing the parkland set to come from the housing development.

The whole process could take up to a decade though, so start thinking about who you know that might like to live out there and make sure they are ready to move when the housing plan opens up!

(Photo by Justin White)

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17 Responses to Ginninderra Falls: How to open this treasure to the public?
#1
Dacquiri1:16 pm, 16 Jul 14

No one should underestimate the risks — and the benefits — of opening up this area. In the old days, when it was open to the public, it was a favourite haunt for us to to take family and visitors. And absolutely magnificent it was, too. However…the safety requirements are significant. About 15yrs ago, when I was there with my young son, he (despite my warnings) ventured too close to the edge of the rocks near the fast-moving water and fell in. (He would have been about 6 or 7 at the time.) I was terrified and hysterical with fear. Screaming out for him and not knowing what to do (I couldn’t swim), I was convinced that he had drowned. I leapt into the water, crying out for him (and trashing my mobile phone in the process!). In what seemed like a lifetime, I finally heard his voice. Both of us completely saturated, we trudged up the hill, never to return to this beautiful spot. I have never determined how far he was carried by the water or how he got out — it is something that we never talk about. But it made me realise how dangerous the place was without effective guardrails, and what a small difference there can be between safety and disaster.

#2
Ronald_Coase6:06 pm, 16 Jul 14

How about we divert the light rail to Ginninderra Falls via Belconnen? Maybe then it has a chance at being profitable, the Greens can be happy when we all fall in love with Mother Nature, the residents of the new development can catch a sparkling new train back home, and other taxpayers can subsidise property developers in the way nature intended.

#3
Maya1236:37 pm, 16 Jul 14

Dacquiri said :

No one should underestimate the risks — and the benefits — of opening up this area. In the old days, when it was open to the public, it was a favourite haunt for us to to take family and visitors. And absolutely magnificent it was, too. However…the safety requirements are significant. About 15yrs ago, when I was there with my young son, he (despite my warnings) ventured too close to the edge of the rocks near the fast-moving water and fell in. (He would have been about 6 or 7 at the time.) I was terrified and hysterical with fear. Screaming out for him and not knowing what to do (I couldn’t swim), I was convinced that he had drowned. I leapt into the water, crying out for him (and trashing my mobile phone in the process!). In what seemed like a lifetime, I finally heard his voice. Both of us completely saturated, we trudged up the hill, never to return to this beautiful spot. I have never determined how far he was carried by the water or how he got out — it is something that we never talk about. But it made me realise how dangerous the place was without effective guardrails, and what a small difference there can be between safety and disaster.

Sounds awful and scary. I’m pleased you both got out of the situation okay. Have you learnt to swim since?

#4
mountainman7:05 pm, 16 Jul 14

The government should partially pay the insurance. Side note love the effort the owners have put into the No trespassing sign.

#5
Dacquiri11:26 pm, 16 Jul 14

Sounds awful and scary. I’m pleased you both got out of the situation okay. Have you learnt to swim since?

Yes! Did an adult learn-to-swim course and have since been canyonning in the Blue Mtns, which included a fair bit of water contact (all highly supervised). I have mixed feelings about children’s swimming lessons, tho — my son did have them, but I wonder if they have the effect of instilling complacency rather than a healthy fear.

#6
Maya1239:44 am, 17 Jul 14

Dacquiri said :

Sounds awful and scary. I’m pleased you both got out of the situation okay. Have you learnt to swim since?
Yes! Did an adult learn-to-swim course and have since been canyonning in the Blue Mtns, which included a fair bit of water contact (all highly supervised). I have mixed feelings about children’s swimming lessons, tho — my son did have them, but I wonder if they have the effect of instilling complacency rather than a healthy fear.

I think all children should learn to swim as a child for a safety measure. They can be warned of the dangers, and should be, but not to the degree they get a phobia. I used to have an adult friend like this. Not only couldn’t she swim, but she got really scared just to get her legs wet in shallow water. As children, we would go swimming in the local creek with friends. In those days adults didn’t think it was necessary to always accompany us and no child came to harm; besides, we all swam better than most of the adults. The only child I heard of coming to harm was during supervised school swimming lessons. They dived in as part of the life saving course and hit a submerged tree stump, with horrible results.

(Somehow the quotes came out wrong. This is a replacement.)

#7
rosscoact11:09 am, 17 Jul 14

Ronald_Coase said :

How about we divert the light rail to Ginninderra Falls via Belconnen? Maybe then it has a chance at being profitable, the Greens can be happy when we all fall in love with Mother Nature, the residents of the new development can catch a sparkling new train back home, and other taxpayers can subsidise property developers in the way nature intended.

I’m not sure you’ve thought this through

#8
gazket5:21 pm, 17 Jul 14

Canberra’s Kakadu . bwhaaa.. stretching things there aren’t we.

My memories of swimming at Ginninderra Falls was it’s a very hard trek back out , It’s not really a waterfall as such and that it’s full of water lice.

#9
thatsnotme11:23 pm, 17 Jul 14

Dacquiri said :

I have mixed feelings about children’s swimming lessons, tho — my son did have them, but I wonder if they have the effect of instilling complacency rather than a healthy fear.

I don’t think fear of the water is ever healthy. My son and daughter (aged 5 and 2) both do swimming lessons, and nothing I’ve ever seen from their instructors, or their own behavior during the lessons, suggests complacency towards the water is a danger. What they’re both learning though is a healthy respect for the water.

As for the OP, call me a cynic, but statements like “Speaking to the Canberra Times, Anna Hyles said that the site could be made safe with upgrades such as walkways, rails and public facilities such as toilets but to get this kind of money requires the kind of funds only available to developers such as Riverview Group.” suggest to me that this piece about opening up Ginninderra Falls isn’t really about letting everyone see this ‘beautiful bit of Kakadu’, but basically an ad for the Riverview Group and their development plans.

“The whole process could take up to a decade though, so start thinking about who you know that might like to live out there and make sure they are ready to move when the housing plan opens up!”

Ok…

#10
Pistachios6:32 am, 18 Jul 14

gazket said :

Canberra’s Kakadu . bwhaaa.. stretching things there aren’t we.

My memories of swimming at Ginninderra Falls was it’s a very hard trek back out , It’s not really a waterfall as such and that it’s full of water lice.

You must be thinking of a different place as the waterfall is monstrous:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FsydV2_B52o

I have been going out there since I was 5 and have never seen water lice. Never seen them in the Ginninderra creek full stop.

You are right in saying it’s a hard trek in and out though.

#11
bundah9:18 am, 18 Jul 14

Pistachios said :

gazket said :

Canberra’s Kakadu . bwhaaa.. stretching things there aren’t we.

My memories of swimming at Ginninderra Falls was it’s a very hard trek back out , It’s not really a waterfall as such and that it’s full of water lice.

You must be thinking of a different place as the waterfall is monstrous:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FsydV2_B52o

I have been going out there since I was 5 and have never seen water lice. Never seen them in the Ginninderra creek full stop.

You are right in saying it’s a hard trek in and out though.

We did have 198 mm of rain in March 2012 shortly before that footage was taken which is why the waterfall was so impressive. Normally it’s nowhere near as voluminous.

#12
Maya12310:54 am, 18 Jul 14

Pistachios said :

gazket said :

Canberra’s Kakadu . bwhaaa.. stretching things there aren’t we.

My memories of swimming at Ginninderra Falls was it’s a very hard trek back out , It’s not really a waterfall as such and that it’s full of water lice.

You must be thinking of a different place as the waterfall is monstrous:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FsydV2_B52o

I have been going out there since I was 5 and have never seen water lice. Never seen them in the Ginninderra creek full stop.

You are right in saying it’s a hard trek in and out though.

Ha, ha, Tim is rather exaggerating. I’ve seen bigger in Australia. There were several bigger falls where I grew up. That video appears to have been taken after heavy rain. I would bet it isn’t anywhere near as big usually at other times. However, I did see it years ago, when it wasn’t running as full, and I thought it was worth seeing, and was surprised there was a waterfall in this area.

#13
JessicaGlitter10:55 am, 18 Jul 14

Hahaha #9 reasonable conclusion given my tone.

I’m not particularly connected to Riverview or the Hyles family, just keeping the tone positive because I know 90% of RiotACT readers want to see the Falls open again.

This proposal is at such an early stage that I think it would be hard for anyone to have any particularly strong opinions one way or another. My feelings are more along the lines of “Oh, that’s an interesting idea…”

I suppose the question remains as to whether we should be expanding out of Canberra, or whether it’s more efficient to increase housing in the city. It looks more like a new village out there than a new suburb so there are lots of practical governmental issues about their services, particularly if it sits on the border.

There’s not a lot of opposition to it to report though. Do you have any concerns to bring up? This is your opportunity, the ACT Government love to read these comment threads!

#14
dungfungus2:48 pm, 18 Jul 14

Maya123 said :

Pistachios said :

gazket said :

Canberra’s Kakadu . bwhaaa.. stretching things there aren’t we.

My memories of swimming at Ginninderra Falls was it’s a very hard trek back out , It’s not really a waterfall as such and that it’s full of water lice.

You must be thinking of a different place as the waterfall is monstrous:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FsydV2_B52o

I have been going out there since I was 5 and have never seen water lice. Never seen them in the Ginninderra creek full stop.

You are right in saying it’s a hard trek in and out though.

Ha, ha, Tim is rather exaggerating. I’ve seen bigger in Australia. There were several bigger falls where I grew up. That video appears to have been taken after heavy rain. I would bet it isn’t anywhere near as big usually at other times. However, I did see it years ago, when it wasn’t running as full, and I thought it was worth seeing, and was surprised there was a waterfall in this area.

I saw a photo recently of Niagara Falls completely frozen over. Have Gininderra Falls ever frozen?

#15
greencod2:58 pm, 18 Jul 14

All I can is SHAME, SHAME, SHAME to the greedy disgusting compo lawyers who forced to owners to close this wonderful place through spurious lawsuits.

And frankly, SHAME too to the disgusting litigants themselves, hoping to make a buck out of some stupid tumble or twisted ankle they should be taking responsibility for themselves.

It’s about these disgusting compo lawyers were put out of business through law reform.

They’ve already ruined enough community things through their creepy lawsuits.

#16
greencod3:28 pm, 18 Jul 14

JessicaGlitter said :

Hahaha #9 reasonable conclusion given my tone.

I’m not particularly connected to Riverview or the Hyles family, just keeping the tone positive because I know 90% of RiotACT readers want to see the Falls open again.

This proposal is at such an early stage that I think it would be hard for anyone to have any particularly strong opinions one way or another. My feelings are more along the lines of “Oh, that’s an interesting idea…”

I suppose the question remains as to whether we should be expanding out of Canberra, or whether it’s more efficient to increase housing in the city. It looks more like a new village out there than a new suburb so there are lots of practical governmental issues about their services, particularly if it sits on the border.

There’s not a lot of opposition to it to report though. Do you have any concerns to bring up? This is your opportunity, the ACT Government love to read these comment threads!

OK, well, for the record, I VEHEMENTLY OPPOSE the new development proposal.

The poor old Murrumbidgee River in the ACT and immediately downstream has already been degraded by Canberra’s urbanisation, including a number of suburbs inappropriately close to the river, a number of riverbank carparks from which litter and louts flow, and the building of much of Tuggeranong with non-existent siltation controls, leading to severe siltation problems the river is still dealing with.

There should be no more development anywhere near it.

There is ONLY ONE THING that should happen with Ginninderra Falls, and that is its incorporation into a National Park like originally proposed.

#17
thatsnotme8:58 pm, 18 Jul 14

JessicaGlitter said :

Hahaha #9 reasonable conclusion given my tone.

I’m not particularly connected to Riverview or the Hyles family, just keeping the tone positive because I know 90% of RiotACT readers want to see the Falls open again.

This proposal is at such an early stage that I think it would be hard for anyone to have any particularly strong opinions one way or another. My feelings are more along the lines of “Oh, that’s an interesting idea…”

I suppose the question remains as to whether we should be expanding out of Canberra, or whether it’s more efficient to increase housing in the city. It looks more like a new village out there than a new suburb so there are lots of practical governmental issues about their services, particularly if it sits on the border.

There’s not a lot of opposition to it to report though. Do you have any concerns to bring up? This is your opportunity, the ACT Government love to read these comment threads!

Hmm, calling the proposed development ‘more like a new village than a new suburb’ is I think stretching things. The Riverview Group say that there’s potential for around 11,500 new homes in the area, over the next 30 years. I don’t know what the average number of people per home would be in a development like this, but even if it were as low as 2 or 3, that’s still 20,000-30,000 new people in the area.

Honestly, all I can see this development turning into is an extension to Macgregor West, with the same tiny blocks and ‘affordable housing’. In the middle of the development is the existing Parkwood area, with industrial recycling facilities, soil and mulch retailers, an electricity substation and all the associated high voltage lines that involves. Not to mention the pet boarding centre down there – if you’ve ever visited The Garden at Parkwood, you’d be in no doubt about the noise a heap of animals in unfamiliar environments can make…

All the while, new land is being released in Molonglo, just down the road, over a similar timeframe. The Riverview Group’s advertising could well be ‘Can’t afford to buy in Molonglo? How about here!’

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