COVID-19 impacts: Forestry Corporation and NSW National Parks Wildlife Service announce changes to public facilities

Areas of Mount Kaputar National Park are open for use. Photo: supplied
Areas of Mount Kaputar National Park are open for use. Photo: supplied

Camping grounds, high-visitation areas and historic sites in the state's national parks and forests will be closed until further notice in response to social distancing and non-essential travel directives from the government.

NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) announced the changes on Thursday afternoon to "prevent the transmission of COVID-19 in the wider community".

"We know how important our national parks and reserves are as areas for conservation and recreation and we are committed to reopen these areas as soon as possible in line with government and health advice," the NPWS said.

The following closures will take effect:

  • Campgrounds closed in line with the Government Public Health Order from March 26 2020
  • Visitor centres, cafes and high visitation areas will be closed from March 26 2020
  • Historic sites will be closed from March 26 2020 (except for permanent residents)

All visitors with bookings impacted by the closures will be contacted to arrange full refunds.

All roads through national parks remain open.

Most walking tracks and trails will also remain open and visitors should observe necessary social distancing with others while using pathways and other facilities to maximise their safety.

Parks that are already closed due to fire impacts remain closed.

NPWS staff and volunteer led tours and events have been cancelled with full refunds.

NPWS staff will continue to undertake environmental protection and maintenance work in parks and reserves, subject to all government and health advice, including in areas where important bushfire recovery action is underway. Other NPWS staff will work remotely to continue delivering conservation, research, visitor information and education services.

Camping and picnic areas in NSW State forests will also be closed from midday Friday, 27 March as part of the public health precaution.

"State forests are popular tourism destinations but unfortunately, right now with the COVID-19 situation, groups of people congregating and using shared facilities is not possible," said Forestry Corporation's Tourism and Partnerships Manager, Louise Faulkner.

"Visitor areas including camping areas, picnic areas and public toilets in State forests are closed until further notice.People currently in these areas are asked to move on and we ask anyone planning on heading to a State forest for camping and picnicking to change their plans."

The rules apply to all State forests in NSW including native forests and pine plantations.

Walking tracks in State forests can still be accessed for exercise although Ms Faulkner said it is important that people practice social distancing of 1.5m between individuals as per the public health advice.

"We understand this decision will be disappointing for those who love to use our state forests, especially over the Easter break. However this year it is simply not possible," Ms Faulkner said.

"The government's advice is to avoid all unnecessary travel and so camping and picnicking in state forests is off the cards for the time being."

Mount Kaputar National Park. Photo: supplied

Mount Kaputar National Park. Photo: supplied

Some changes for the region's national parks are as follows.

Camping, including caravans and motor-homes, will not be permitted in any of the parks or State forests from Friday, March 27 until further notice.

Mount Kaputar National Park

Dawsons Spring cabins are closed until further notice. For more information contact the NPWS Narrabri office on 02 6792 7300.

Most of Mount Kaputar National Park is open. However, the following areas are closed due to bushfire damage and will remain closed until it is safe to open them:

  • Bark Hut campground and picnic area
  • Euglah Rock walking track
  • Bundabulla circuit walking track
  • Lindsay Rock Tops
  • Eckford lookout walk
  • Mount Kaputar Summit walk. Summit Road and lookout are open.
  • Kaputar Plateau walk
  • Scutts Hut and Kurrawonga Falls walk
  • West Kaputar lookout

Barraba track will open when road conditions and weather allow.

Pilliga National Park and Warrumbungle National Park

Pilliga Forest Discovery Centre and Warrumbungle National Park Visitor Centre are closed until further notice to protect the health and safety of our visitors and staff. For park information call 1300 072 757.

Australian Wildlife Conservancy carries out continuous 1080 fox baiting in Pilliga State Conservation Area and the Gilgai section of Pilliga National Park. This applies from September 2019 to Wednesday, September 23 2020.

Fox baits and Canid Pest Ejectors containing 1080 poison (sodium fluoroacetate) are laid across the entire state conservation area north of Railway Survey Road and west of Pickaxe Road.

Domestic pets, including dogs, are not permitted in national parks or reserves. All neighbours and visitors to the park must be aware that 1080 baits are lethal to domestic dogs and cats. The NPWS recommend that dogs in the area where baiting is underway be restrained or muzzled at all times. In the event of accidental poisoning, seek immediate veterinary assistance.

For more information, please contact the Australian Wildlife Conservancy on 02 6792 3613 or the NPWS Castlereagh area office on 02 6843 4000

Nundle State Forest

Walking tracks and low-traffic open spaces will remain open where possible to accommodate people exercising.

Guy Fawkes River National Park (Ebor Falls)

The majority of Guy Fawkes River National Park is closed due to bushfire damage. Upper Ebor Falls is open, so visitors can enjoy the falls. This park is fire-affected and facilities within Ebor Falls picnic area have also been affected. Please do not enter closed areas as it is unsafe to do so. Penalties apply for non-compliance. Monitor the NPWS website for updates on closures.

New England National Park

Campgrounds and some picnic areas in this park are closed until further notice. For further information please contact 1300 072 757.

This impacts four locations within the park:

  • The Chalet
  • The Residence
  • Thungutti campground
  • Toms Cabin

Oxley Wild Rivers National Park

The majority of this park is closed due to bushfire damage until Monday 30 March 2020, unless otherwise updated. The following areas remain open:

  • Apsley Falls
  • Dangars Falls
  • Gara Gorge and Blue Holes picnic area
  • Long Point picnic area
  • Wollomombi Falls - The campground and Edgars lookout are the only areas open. The picnic area and walking tracks are closed.

As this is a rapidly changing situation, visitors are asked to check the NPWS website regularly for updates