Shire of Ravensthorpe fix access to Fitzgerald River National Park

Access to the iconic Fitzgerald River National Park could be restored in the next three to four weeks, according to Ravensthorpe Shire chief executive officer Ian Fitzgerald.

Mr Fitzgerald said crews were working to install a temporary access across the Culham Inlet, after it was badly damaged in the February flooding.

The shire will claim the final cost of the restoration road through Western Australia Natural Disaster ​Relief and Recovery Arrangements (WANDRRA)​.

The troubled causeway has been in the spotlight over the last two years, with ongoing damage caused by heavy rainfall.

In March local MP Peter Rundle, then candidate for the seat of Roe, made a last ditch election promise to support the long term restoration of the causeway.

Mr Rundle said he remained committed to helping out the Shire of Ravensthorpe when possible and had met with Mr Fitzgerald earlier this week regarding a long-term solution.

He said down the track a spillway would be installed at the site, the sandbar would be reinforced and flood prevention techniques would be explored.

Mr Rundle estimated a permanent solution to cost several million dollars, and require greater support from government.

He said estimated costs for the temporary route was close to $450,000.

Just months prior to flooding that tore the causeway apart, the local government had spent more than $180,000 to create a detour..

The temporary road will be sealed for safety and to prevent die-back in the national park.

Mr Rundle identified the park as an essential tourism asset for Hopetoun and the region, as it was a draw card for tourists.

In June, UNESCO accepted the Fitzgerald Biosphere among the world’s most significant natural reserves.

“It’s great they’re getting on to it. We really need to get this up and running,” Mr Rundle said.

The work was kick-started in May, when Federal Justice Minister Michael Keenan announced the day labour exemption was granted.

That meant local governments like the Shire of Ravensthorpe could use their own staff and equipment to repair damage that occurred during the February floods.

Without the day labour exemption the council would’ve been forced to use outside contractors, if they planned to seek reimbursement under the arrangements.

Federal member for O’Connor Rick Wilson toured his electorate following the flooding and pushed for the day labour exemption.

At the time Mr Wilson expressed concern about the red tape that restricted councils and residents from recovery from their hardship, post-floods.

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