POLL: Grampians fire recovery

Parks Victoria will hold a Fire Recovery Update tomorrow to bring businesses and interested community members up to speed on the current state of the Grampians National Park.

The event will be held between 11am and 12pm at the Halls Gap Centenary Hall and comes just days after Minister for Environment and Climate Change Ryan Smith toured bushfire devastated parts of the national park.

Ranger in Charge at Parks Victoria, Graham Parkes said Mr Smith took time out to tour nature reserves and local communities impacted by fire.

"We visited locations including McKenzie falls and the Zumsteins, and a couple of the lookouts where access has been prevented because the timber was burnt out," he said.

"It was important we made sure he was aware of the overall fire impact and the plans we have for fire recovery."

Mr Parkes said it was too early to say whether McKenzie Falls would be open for the busy Easter holiday period.

The well known attraction was severely impacted by fire with the house, kiosk and visitor shelter all destroyed by the Grampians blaze.

HOW LONG WILL TOURISM TAKE TO BOUNCE BACK?

"We are working as quickly as possible, if it were to become open it would only be limited access that would be conditional of a whole range of factors," Mr Parkes said.

More than a month since the fire emergency in Halls Gap passed essential supplies in the area including electricity are still lacking.

Mr Parkes said there was no underestimating the task ahead with an initial survey of damage to be followed by a detailed assessment.

"This is a major recovery effort, we've been working to assess the damage and it has been difficult to quantify the full magnitude of the task,” he said.

Mr Smith also took time to meet with firefighters from Parks Victoria thanking them for their efforts to contain the Grampians Northern Complex fire.

He praised CFA staff and volunteers for bringing the blaze under control.

“The efforts of fire-fighters in responding to the Grampians fires have been nothing short of outstanding,” he said.

“They have worked countless hours in tough conditions, not just in the Grampians but also on fires in the Mallee and East Gippsland in some of the toughest terrain and most isolated areas in the state.”

Grampians Tourism chief executive, Will Flamstead said it was important to hear the minister reaffirm the state government’s acknowledgement of the importance of the Grampians to the region and its role as a tourist destination.

“Ryan Smith’s regional visit showed his commitment and the state government’s commitment to the recovery process,” he said.

“Tourism has a $950 million economic impact on our region.

"Tourism has a $950 million economic impact on our region." - Will Flamstead

“When major natural attractions within the Grampians National Park are damaged, it’s vital to get them open and accessible as efficiently as possible.

“It is important the level of impact is seen first-hand to realise this and Minister Smith’s visit was great to emphasise particular areas.”

Mr Smith encouraged tourists to visit the area to boost the district’s economy. Last month $250,000 in funding was announced to repair damaged tourist sites.

“The majority of the Grampians National Park was not affected by the recent fires, so I urge Victorians to take the opportunity to enjoy one of our great national park experiences at a time when the community needs you most,” he said.

“The recovery process is well under way and I commend the efforts of the many volunteers who are assisting in the fire recovery process.”

The gradual return to normality in the Grampians will continue this week with the reopening of Glenelg River road and Lodge road.

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