TOURISM operators in the northern Grampians are continuing to question why roads in unburnt areas remain closed as their businesses face ongoing losses in the fallout from the Grampians bushfire.
Mount Zero Olives owner Jane Seymour said tourist walks should never have been closed in parts of the Grampians National Park unaffected by the fire.
“There’s no reason to be cutting off the walks in the northern part of the Grampians. The fire didn’t affect Mount Zero,” she said.
“The bush wasn’t affected until just after Flat Rock, so by closing it off with a gate and a padlock, it means no tourist can visit the northern end of the Grampians.”
Parks Victoria ranger in charge David Roberts said the walks were frequently used by rock climbers who had a tendency to explore, and the closures were about making sure people did not access any burnt areas.
“Mount Zero is accessed from the car park and by allowing access to that car park we particularly don’t want people to be able to get to areas of Mount Stapylton and Hollow Mountain that were quite badly burnt,” he said.
“We just want to make sure that we haven’t got any burnt trees.”
Mr Roberts said work continued to track well for the opening of walks to boost the opportunities tourists would have available to them for the long weekend in March.
“We’re still really looking at Mount Zero and Flat Rock walks to open no later than the March long weekend,” he said.
He said there had been vast damage to public assets and a rough damage assessment placed the Parks Victoria damage bill above $2 million.
Mr Roberts said he sympathised with business owners in the Grampians who were being affected by the closures and said his team was working hard to ensure closed areas would begin to reopen.
“I appreciate that much of the tourism sector relies on the park and certainly relies on this key section and I absolutely appreciate the concerns of a range of people around the Grampians,” he said.
Mrs Seymour said she was also critical of the process for road closures during bushfires.
“When these bureaucrats cut off roads, they should all physically come out and see how it affects business owners,” she said.