Victoria’s Great Ocean Road has been reopened after a devastating bushfire razed more than 100 homes in the area.
Authorities reopened the road, one of the state’s best known tourism drawcards, at 8am on Wednesday.
The move will bring some relief to tourism operators and business owners in the holiday playground after days of major disruption from the blaze, which destroyed 116 homes in Wye River and Separation Creek.
It’s still burning out of control in rugged forest and has burnt 2500 hectares of land, but Emergency Management Commissioner Craig Lapsley says it’s safe to reopen the road between Cumberland River and Wye River.
‘Business and tourism is a crucial part of what makes a community run and particularly in an area such as the surf coast which heavily relies on summer tourism,’ he said.
‘We want everyone to support local businesses and enjoy the area, but to be aware that there is still a fire being worked on so people will see aircraft and trucks and, at times, smoke.’
Cooler conditions have helped firefighters plan ahead in their battle against the fire.
Incident controller Gregg Paterson said fog and low cloud that grounded firefighting aircraft in recent days had cleared long enough to allow aircraft to use infra-red hot-spot detection equipment and perform reconnaissance work.
New hotspots were identified on the northern and southwestern edges, giving vital clues on building and strengthening containment lines.
About 200 firefighters continue working to control the fire, which is expected to burn through the summer.
This includes 20 New Zealand firefighters who specialise in battling fires in dense forest.