The Nationals WA Member for Roe Peter Rundle has welcomed the reopening of Bluff Knoll to visitors from tomorrow, almost five months since the devastating Boxing Day bushfires.
Mr Rundle said with activity around the key Great Southern attraction to resume after 150 days of closure, many tourism businesses in the area were hopeful visitors would return and kick-start their trade.
“Early confirmation of the reopening of walk trails is key for local businesses to consolidate bookings not only for this weekend but the June long weekend,” Mr Rundle said.
“This is their first shot at capitalising on visitor numbers for the year.
“Not only has the closure of the Bluff Knoll trail because of the fire cut tourism numbers but operators throughout the district have also had to cope with COVID-19 border restrictions that have impacted their businesses.”
After questions in Parliament by The Nationals WA’s Colin de Grussa this week it was confirmed Bluff Knoll would be opened from 8am Friday and the walk trails to Mount Toolbrunup and Mount Trio would be opened across the weekend.
Mr Rundle encouraged visitors to return to the Stirling Range National Park and enjoy the amenities on offer but also said businesses in the region would need State Government help in the recovery from the impacts of COVID-19.
He added the impact to the natural environment and park infrastructure was extensive with recovery expected to take many years, but the impact on local businesses remains.
“This is a community impacted by bushfires and now hurting from the impacts of COVID-19,” Mr Rundle said.
“I look forward to the businesses being able to grow again but urge the State Government to not forget about them.
“I am excited about the Morrison Government’s announcement of a further $448.5 million for bushfire recovery. I am again calling on the Minister for Emergency Services to help the Stirling Range community access these funds as they face a long-term and complex environmental recovery phase.
“I am disappointed the State Government hasn’t done more for a unique tourist destination and a struggling local community.”
Mr Rundle praised the efforts of local DBCA staff, Parks and Wildlife teams from the South-West, the Wheatbelt and the Kimberley, Southern Aboriginal Corporation local Aboriginal Ranger teams, and the Pardelup Prison crew in dealing with the recovery work throughout the park.