15 April 2024

New temporary Visitor Centre opens doors at Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve

| Ian Bushnell
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two people hiking

Visitors to Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve can now seek guidance and help at a new temporary Visitor Centre. Photo: ACT Government.

A temporary visitor centre has opened at Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve after ongoing water leaks and potential health issues forced the closure of the permanent facility last year.

Stephen Alegria, executive branch manager of the ACT Parks and Conservation Service, said the demountable building would have Wi-Fi, toilets and staff on hand to help visitors explore the reserve.

“We are very pleased that visitors can once again chat in person with our staff about the many walks and activities on offer at this beautiful reserve,” Mr Alegria said.

Staff will be able to provide advice, brochures, maps and first aid equipment in the event of an emergency.

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Mr Alegria told ABC Radio that installing the temporary centre had taken longer than expected due to industry constraints, but it would be fit for purpose.

“It’s not pretty, but it does the job,” he said. “We may be there for a couple of years.”

The centre was located in the car park of the former Visitor Centre, which remained fenced and would eventually be demolished and removed.

Mr Alegria said planning was underway for a new permanent Visitor Centre, but there was no construction budget or timeframe at present.

The 2022 Budget had allocated $1.1 million for design work.

“We have been doing a heap of work on preliminary planning for a new centre,” he said.

“We haven’t locked anything in, but the preferred site is up the road a bit into the reserve at a place called Dalsetter, which is a car park used for access to walking trails to Gibraltar Peak.”

Mr Alegria said that the area emerged from consultation with the Ngunnawal community, but from a visitor perspective, it also boasted 360-degree views.

He said planning for a new permanent centre had focused on its sustainability, longevity and quality, so it would not be a problem to build.

It would also have to be adaptable and flexible because it was uncertain what would happen in the next 10 or 20 years.

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The decision to close the Visitor Centre last May came 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.

Mr Alegria said it was deemed uneconomic to remediate given the ongoing risks to staff.

Entry to Tidbinbilla remains free until further notice and the boom gate will remain open from 7:30 am until 6 pm. The temporary Visitor Centre will open from 9 am to 5 pm.

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