The popular Mt Warning summit walking track at Wollumbin National Park near Murwillumbah has been re-opened after eight months out of action.
The four-and-a-half kilometre track used by around 100,000 visitors every year was severely damaged by ex-Tropical Cyclone Oswald last January, which forced its closure due to fallen trees and landslips.
Its closure affected local tourism and businesses in both Murwillumbah and the nearby village of Uki which also suffered another blow afterwards when its historic pub burnt to the ground and is yet to be rebuilt.
The NSW government committed $200,000 to rebuild the track, which was completed around three months ahead of schedule with a recent spate of fine weather helping.
Yesterday, environment minister Robyn Parker and Lismore MP Thomas George visited the park to thank National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) staff for their hard work in getting the project completed. just in time for the school holidays which started this week.
They also acknowledged the local community and businesses for their patience while the track and car park were being cleared of debris.
The work included repairs to the summit lookout platforms which provide the panoramic views of the Tweed Valley and surrounding ranges.
Mr George said more than 10 tonnes of debris was cleared from the car park alone, which was wood-chipped and used as mulch in nearby nature reserves, including Marshalls Creek, Cudgen and Wooyung.
‘The Australia Day weekend storm caused significant damage to the mountain, including extensive blow-downs of ancient forest trees and three landslips on the eastern face,’ he said.
‘The summit path has been re-routed in four separate locations due to the massive root-balls of the felled trees blocking the path.’
NPWS regional manager Mark Johnston said the clearing on Wollumbin was especially difficult for the crews.
‘Normally mountain tracks are cleared from the summit down, but because the 4.4km path was steep and blocked the clean-up began at the ground and worked up,’ Mr Johnston said.
‘This made the job more challenging and dangerous as discarded debris could not be rolled down the mountain.’
· The NPWS engaged specialist arborists who abseiled between the top of trees with a chainsaw to remove dangerous overhanging limbs.
· 50 tonnes of gravel was airlifted into the park by a helicopter and dropped at various points along the summit track.
· A team of NPWS ground staff has been working in the park since April 30.
· All of the contractors, with the exception of one, came from the Northern Rivers.
· Mt Trails, Tasmanian experts in building walking tracks in Australian national parks, worked on the track, and employed local indigenous workers.