Large crowds force closure of Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve

Michael Weaver 1 April 2020 38
Gibraltar Peak

Gibraltar Peak is a popular destination for hikers in Tidbinbilla. Photo: File.

Excessive numbers of people going to the Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve on the weekend has forced the ACT Government to close the reserve in line with strict social distancing measures.

More than 500 people visited the Tidbinbilla Reserve amidst repeated calls from the ACT and Federal governments to stay at home to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus.

Minister for the Environment and Heritage Mick Gentleman said he was disappointed to close Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve in response to people’s failure to comply with social distancing requirements.

“This weekend over 500 people visited the Reserve and were confined to a reduced area as a result of January’s bushfires. We have now closed the park for the safety of the community, as well as our Parks and Conservation personnel,” Mr Gentleman said.

“Following the social distancing requirements agreed by National Cabinet is vital to limiting the spread of COVID-19 in the ACT.

“I encourage everyone to respect the closures, think of others and maintain social distancing while using outdoor spaces,” he said.

Other facilities including the Tidbinbilla Visitor Information Centre, Namadgi Visitor Information Centre, campgrounds, playgrounds and cottages were also recently closed as part of the ACT Government’s response to the current public health emergency.

Public campsites are now closed including the Cotter Campground, Blue Range Campground, Northern Border Campground, Kowen Campground and all campsites in Namadgi National Park.

All current bookings will be refunded.

Playgrounds within the ACT Parks and Conservation areas are also closed, including those at Tidbinbilla, Cotter Avenue, Casuarina Sands and Pine Island.

Mr Gentleman said these closures are consistent with approaches undertaken by all other jurisdictions across the country to slow the spread of the COVID-19 virus.

“This means not congregating in groups larger than two, keeping 1.5 metres from others, avoiding peak usage periods and practising good hand hygiene,” he said.

All public barbecues across ACT Parks and Conservation Service managed estate are now switched off to reduce the risk of spreading the virus.

The Namadgi National Park and Bimberi Wilderness area remain closed for public safety reasons due to fire and storm activity that has caused significant damage to these areas.

The ACT Rural Fire Service also extinguished a fire that had reignited in a large tree in a remote area of the Namadgi National Park this week.

ACT Parks and Conservation Service will continue to remove dangerous trees and fix key infrastructure to enable these areas to be reopened.

“Rangers will be monitoring to ensure people are using the spaces that remain open in accordance with government directions. If Canberrans continue to ignore the rules, we may need to close more parks and reserves,” Mr Gentleman said.

More information on these closures is on the ACT Environment website.


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38 Responses to Large crowds force closure of Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve
dukethunder dukethunder 12:43 pm 13 Apr 20

Based on this precedent they should shut LBG’s central basin. Easily 500 people there today

Mac Ka Mac Ka 10:27 am 05 Apr 20

Where is the police?

Lauren Ogden Lauren Ogden 11:11 pm 03 Apr 20

It is a shame that these stories are provoking aggressive reactions when we could be working together as a community. "One stupid person ruining it for the rest of us," "disappointing public behaviour", "this is why we can't have nice things" etc etc. Is it not possible to assume people had good intentions by going to a wide open space for their exercise, well away from the hundreds of walkers at Mt Ainslie, or the increasing number of cyclists at Goorooyaroo for example? Perhaps they did not intentionally do the wrong thing, and it was just an unfortunate coincidence that lots of Canberrans had the same idea on the same day? Until the Gov mandates that we cannot go outside, it is not a crime to get some fresh air. All well and good to tell people to just stay at home if you have comfortable living arrangements, a garden, family, heating/aircon, and things that make being at home a physically and mentally healthy place to be, but not everyone has that luxury. Instead of biting heads off, perhaps others could suggest different reserves for people to go for a walk that are still open and not so busy?

Rastislav Zrelak Rastislav Zrelak 10:45 pm 03 Apr 20

Don't forget to install more 5G towers while we are waiting inside the houses

Rastislav Zrelak Rastislav Zrelak 10:41 pm 03 Apr 20

We need sun fresh air and exercise that's what's killing viruses

Vickie Kibblewhite Vickie Kibblewhite 7:09 pm 03 Apr 20

Would these people be there normally? Or are they only there because they were told not to be there or anywhere in public area in more than a group of 2

Rob Chalmers Rob Chalmers 7:05 pm 03 Apr 20

Last weekend Kingston foreshore/ Bowen Park was chockers.

Josh Digby Caesar Josh Digby Caesar 5:51 pm 03 Apr 20

How big is the nature reserve? Are we really saying that there isnt enough room for 500 people to maintain social distancing?

Natalie Anne Hargreaves Natalie Anne Hargreaves 5:19 pm 03 Apr 20

People will go bushwalking as exercise, we are not In total lock down so exercise and fishing etc is permitted. If you choose to stay home and not leave your home, that's your business, but you have no right to tell people they can't go for a bushwalk. So whoever is staying at home, if you want to do that be my guest ...

Luca Biason Luca Biason 4:38 pm 03 Apr 20

I don't know why some of the people here should be so quick in criticising what - common sense and social distancing notwithstanding - is a safe activity that happens to be highly beneficial for everyone's mental health too, the latter - unlike covid19 - a matter that is going to be felt by everyone.

https://www.canberratimes.com.au/story/6707817/expert-pans-panic-decisions-that-dont-make-biological-sense/

Rebecca Williams Rebecca Williams 1:45 pm 03 Apr 20

Go for your excercise around your own neighbourhood or... Just. Stay. Home.

Billy Watson Billy Watson 1:08 pm 03 Apr 20

Don’t blame people. The messaging is unclear. National and territory advice under the new self isolation rules DO PERMIT TRAVEL AWAY FROM HOME for the purpose OF PERSONAL EXERCISE. Fishing, for example, is permitted, as is bushwalking, so long as no more than two people separated by 1.5 m.

Given that tidbinbilla is a hotspot for such person exercise- ie bushwalking- it is perfectly understandable why many people thought it was ok to go there.

Beck Bianco Beck Bianco 11:43 am 03 Apr 20

Actually we’ve been told we’re allowed out to exercise and mental health is also important. For many walking in nature is a great way to deal with mental health. It becomes and issue only when there are crowds of people. With everyone suddenly going walking in places they wouldn’t normally due to shut downs more people go to the same place and the knock on effect is that more places shut.

Phil Hopkins Phil Hopkins 10:44 am 03 Apr 20

Aaaaachooo......! Are people really that stupid!

Karen Malam Karen Malam 8:56 am 03 Apr 20

They should introduce a ticketing system and close when they reach the safe limit, rather than close

Domenic Fabbo Domenic Fabbo 7:05 am 03 Apr 20

The rule is to maintain. 1.5m distance from another that you normally don’t spend your time with, the reason for this is not so you don’t socialise with them but to ensure there is no physical contact. If the authorities keep enforcing a “stay home” rule instead of the 1.5m separation rule they should also be prepared to set some funds aside to deal with mental health issues that will result from total unnecessary isolation....

    Linda Leavitt Linda Leavitt 7:08 am 03 Apr 20

    Domenic Fabbo ... especially when they keep saying it’s for three - six months.

    Kate Carey Kate Carey 7:23 am 03 Apr 20

    Domenic Fabbo they are

    Anne Lakey Anne Lakey 8:19 am 03 Apr 20

    Domenic Fabbo spot on Dom

    Kirrin Birrin Kirrin Birrin 9:28 am 03 Apr 20

    Dom it’s also to reduce the risk of picking it up from surface contact.

    Close contact is being less than 1.5m or in a confined space for 2hrs. It’s not just physically touching the person. You need to avoid any potential droplets they’re spreading about.

    Eg you can sit 1.5m away from someone at a table but if they’re infectious eventually the surface of the table will be infectious too.

    Beck Bianco Beck Bianco 11:48 am 03 Apr 20

    Kirrin Birrin yes but as a frequent bush walker I can’t say your have a lot of touching with surfaces. It’s very different then touching a table.

    Domenic Fabbo Domenic Fabbo 11:55 am 03 Apr 20

    Beck Bianco yes, that’s correct, we are talking about Tidbinbilla. 🙄

    Kirrin Birrin Kirrin Birrin 12:27 pm 03 Apr 20

    Yeah I agree. Minimal risk out in the bush.

    Mine was a general comment at the importance and generally not ‘socialising’ in a space together even if you’re over 1.5m apart.

    Cary Elliot Johnson Cary Elliot Johnson 6:32 pm 03 Apr 20

    Domenic Fabbo the latest journal I read is that you can contract it by touching “certain” surfaces that infected persons have also touched or orally sprayed on, or if same persons cough or sneeze on you or within a circumference of a couple of meters of your PS. The latest is that you cannot catch COVID simply by walking/riding/running past someone who HASNT orally splattered.

    Domenic Fabbo Domenic Fabbo 6:54 pm 03 Apr 20

    Cary Elliot Johnson correct, so I’m going fishing, I’ll be at least 100 mtrs from any splattering zone

    Randy Goldberg Randy Goldberg 12:55 am 04 Apr 20

    Domenic Fabbo three to six months or more. Basically, it'll be in place (if not stronger measures) until there is a working vaccine to PREVENT THE VIRUS FROM SPREADING.

    Understand that the measures aren't for me to protect you but moreso for you to not infect anyone else.

    Covid-19 seems to spread via the droplets from a cough or sneeze AND CAN LIVE ON SURFACES for a while.

    Yes, the great outdoors but if someone infected sits down, coughs or sneezes around where they're sitting, get up, walks away and you now sit there, it is possible for you to pick up the virus and now infect yourself.

    That's why restaurants and cafes are take away only, no sit down areas that would need frequent (constant) cleaning.

    Just think of others, not the "inconvenience" to you.

Christopher Mawbey Christopher Mawbey 6:20 am 03 Apr 20

We currently love the 40 acres we are on for our 4 children,

There is plenty of room for them to take their boredom and bickering and fighting out side.

Trace Hawker Trace Hawker 6:15 am 03 Apr 20

That's why SCOMO should of done a complete lock down as in NZ. Too many self righteous idiots .

SP Brogues SP Brogues 5:49 am 03 Apr 20

Missed opportunity for some revenue raising for the government.

Alan Rose Alan Rose 5:40 am 03 Apr 20

One person or even a couple think they are doing the right thing, but hundreds of people have the same idea and it’s all gotten out of hand. If everyone stayed at home no issues.

    Ruth Brown Ruth Brown 11:32 am 03 Apr 20

    Just like all those people think that the best place to exercise on the weekend is on the shores of Lake Burley Griffin, then buy their post-exercise "takeaway" coffee at the kiosk beside the lake and walk 5-10 steps away from the counter to drink it. When enough people have their coffees at the same time, it doesn't take long before 5-10 steps makes social distancing difficult.

    Is it really so impossible to go for a walk or cycle in your own suburb, people?

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