26 May 2023

Leaking Tidbinbilla Visitor Centre closed until further notice, Orroral Valley reopening

| Ian Bushnell
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Tidbinbilla Visitor Centre celebrates its updated facilities in 2020. Photo: ACT Parks and Conservation Service/Facebook.

The Tidbinbilla Visitor Centre is out of action until further notice due to persistent water leaks. But the nature reserve will remain open with free entry.

The decision comes after a six-month investigation into the leaks and residual moisture plaguing the building, which opened in 2000 and won the national GreenSmart Building Of The Year award for its leading-edge environmental practice.

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Executive branch manager of the ACT Parks and Conservation Service Stephen Alegria said the closure came out of an abundance of caution to keep volunteers and visitors safe and would not impact access to the Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve.

“Over the past six months, the Tidbinbilla Visitor Centre has been undergoing a comprehensive building review to address issues caused by persistent water leaks, residual moisture and associated issues,” Mr Alegria said.

“We have decided to close the Tidbinbilla Visitor Centre so these issues can be addressed. Our priority is to keep our staff, volunteers and visitors safe.”

A government spokesperson said recent heavy rainfall had exacerbated the water issues and the Centre was unlikely to reopen this year

A temporary demountable building will be installed as soon as possible to provide the most important services to visitors, including safety, orientation and interpretive information.

The government is planning a new visitor centre, with $1.1 million allocated in last year’s ACT Budget for design work.

Mr Alegria said visitor centre staff would be relocated to the Tidbinbilla depot but would still be available by phone to assist the public as they continued to service the nature reserve and visitor centre area.

He said the public would still be able to visit the nature reserve, including the sanctuary and walking trails.

Entry fees had been waived until further notice and the boom gate would remain open throughout the reserve’s normal opening hours from 7:30 am to 6:00 pm.

“The government is working to fast track a temporary demountable building as soon as possible to provide the most important services to visitors, including safety, orientation and interpretive information,” Mr Alegria said.

Maps and brochures will remain available outside the visitor centre.

Due to the reserve’s limited reception, the visitor centre Wi-Fi service will be maintained to support communications.

Tidbinbilla Visitor Information staff can be contacted on 02 6207 8921.

Meanwhile, the government has announced that Namadgi National Park will reopen on the weekend following bushfire and floods in 2020 that damaged Rocky Crossing and other infrastructure.

A water-bombing helicopter heads into a flank of the Orroral Valley fire earlier this year.

Disaster: A water-bombing helicopter heads into a flank of the Orroral Valley fire in 2020. Photo: Michael Weaver.

Minister for Planning and Land Management Mick Gentleman said that although bushfire recovery across Namadgi would be ongoing for many years, the reopening of Orroral Valley represented another milestone in that journey.

Mr Gentleman said bushfires in 2020 burnt more than 80 per cent or 86,000 hectares of Namadgi National Park, followed by intense rainfall that caused significant flood damage across the fireground.

“The ACT Government has been working hard to rebuild the roads and infrastructure lost in the fires,” he said.

“The rebuild at the Orroral Valley has been done carefully to protect and restore the environmental values impacted by these climatic events, while also strengthening the resilience of the area against any future extreme events.”

The following areas will be accessible by vehicles from 8:00 am on Saturday, 27 May:

  • The Orroral River Picnic Area
  • Nursery Swamp Walking Track
  • Orroral Homestead carpark,
  • Orroral Tracking Station
  • Orroral Heritage Walk
  • Granite Tors Walking Track, including the Geodetic Dome

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Orroral Campground will remain closed until further notice while the amenities block is upgraded. Amenities are available at the day-use area adjacent to the campground and at Orroral Valley Tracking Station.

The Yankee Hat rock art site remains closed while work is conducted to finalise upgrade plans and designs with the Ngunnawal community.

Those planning a visit are reminded to take all necessary safety precautions, dress warmly, tell someone where you are going and when you’ll return, and to check road conditions before heading out.

Visitors should also drop into the Namadgi Visitor Centre for an update on conditions and walking tracks.

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It look this government 3 years to re-build a small crossing that couldn’t be a longer than several car lengths. Southern Canberra yet again zero priority for this mob.

It is just so frustrating that this government continually launches big spends on new infrastructure, but doesn’t look after the assets we already have. They seem to run them down almost purposefully, so they can launch the next big thing. A 23-year old building shouldn’t be nearing end of life.

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