Forests and parks across the Macedon Ranges remain closed for a second week, some indefinitely, as the clean-up effort continues following a freak storm earlier this month.
The Wombat State Forest, Cobaw State Forest, the northern part of Lerderderg State Park, Macedon Regional Park, Hanging Rock and Trentham Falls in Coliban River Scenic Reserve all remain closed to the public.
Macedon Ranges Shire Council continued to respond to calls in relation to debris and damage for more than a week following the May 9 and 10 storm, and council estimates that debris on roads and in public areas will take up to six weeks to clean up.
Forest Fire Management Victoria crews have been part of the road clean-up and are still assessing the extent of the damage.
“We are also using our aircraft to assess the extent and severity of damage to areas that we haven’t been able to access from the ground at this stage,” Grampians deputy chief fire officer Tony English said.
“This includes assessing primary access roads and critical infrastructure such as bridges and communication towers.
“Over 150 roads and tracks across the Wombat State Forest and Lerderderg State Park remain closed, including larger roads such as Firth Road, Bunding–Blakeville Road, North Blackwood Road and Lerderderg Road.
“Although it is too early to tell when roads will be re-opened, it is expected closures will be in place for some time, given the severity of the storm.”
Parks Victoria district manager Jodi Heath said the storm damage to Macedon Regional Park was also extensive, and that it was not yet safe for anyone to access.
“There is still a high risk of more trees and branches falling as well as unstable ground,” she said.
“Please follow the advice on the Parks Victoria website, obey road closures and do not go into the regional park.
“Trentham Falls [in Coliban River Scenic Reserve] is also closed to visitors due to unsafe conditions. Right now we’re focused on keeping people safe and helping emergency services to open roads and reconnect essential services.”
Ms Heath said a reopen date was yet to be set, while crews assessed the damage.
“We should have a clearer idea of the damage and what clean-up work will be needed in the next week or so,” she said.
Loddon Mallee deputy chief fire officer Scott Falconer said the Cobaw State Forest would be closed until June 30.
“Damaging winds and heavy rainfall have caused several fallen trees and debris to block roads and tracks along with other hazards,” he said.
“Our crews are still assessing the extent of damage across public land in the Macedon area to make sure it is safe for the public to access.”
“For your own safety, we are asking you to adhere to signs and stay out of the forest until these dangers are cleared.”
Council-operated Hanging Rock also remains closed until further notice.
Authorities have also advised people who are travelling to be aware that many highways and roads are closed and several traffic lights aren’t working across the state.
For a full list of park and forest closures, visit www.ffm.vic.gov.au/permits-and-regulations/closures-of-parks-and-forests.