1 April 2020

Large crowds force closure of Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve

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

Another over-reaction on the part of the Nanny State. I was at Tidbinbilla on the weekend and while there were quite a few people doing the Gibraltar Peak walk, people on the other walking trails and on the grassy areas were well spread out. We are told it is still ok to get some exercise after being stuck at home, which is what people were doing – just going for a walk and getting some fresh air on a sunny day, in a wide open space, but the ACT Government, determined to remove all our liberties, won’t allow us even that small pleasure anymore.

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