Roads and Access Discussion Paper

Roads and Access Discussion Paper

this is the summary

‘Ngootyoong Gunditj, Ngootyoong Mara’
South West Management Plan

Roads and Access

(download  a PDF from the Resources page)

BACKGROUND

Roads and tracks within the ‘Ngootyoong Gunditj, Ngootyoong Mara’ South West Management Plan area connect people with the spectacular coastal, river, forest and volcanic scenic views. These roads and tracks create important tourism and recreation opportunities and allow for protected area management. This discussion paper will detail the value of this road network, how they are used and managed and finishes with some further discussion points.

 

CURRENT LEGISLATION POLICY AND MANAGEMENT ARRANGEMENTS

The Road Management Act 2004 (Vic.) provides a statutory framework for management of all public roads throughout Victoria. Vicroads, Local Governments and the Department of Sustainability and Environment (DSE) are the three road authorities responsible for road management across Victoria. The responsibility for roads on Parks Victoria managed land has been delegated to Parks Victoria by DSE. 

The purpose of the Act is to establish a coordinated management system for public roads that will promote safe and efficient State and local public road networks and the responsible use of road reserves for other legitimate purposes, such as the provision of utility services.

 

DSE and Parks Victoria managed roads have been grouped into two broad categories:

  • Public Roads are primarily used to provide access for the general public and are managed according to the Draft Road Management Plan (DSE 2008) and the Draft Road Operational Guidelines (DSE 2007), which sets minimum road maintenance standards for public roads.
  • Operational Roads are not included in the Road Management Plan. These roads are used for management purposes including patrols for safety and compliance, fire management, managing and servicing park facilities, and are not Public Roads. Some of these roads may be available for public use but are not managed to the same standards as public roads. Rather, operational roads are managed in line with available resources and operational needs.

Some public roads that traverse parks and reserves are the responsibility of Shire Councils outside of the park or reserve and are managed in accordance with the Local Government’s Road Management Plan.

Bridges and crossings are managed by the road authority on whose road they reside on.

Parks Victoria  and DSE road managers undertake scheduled road inspections and perform maintenance to ensure that roads are kept to standards appropriate for the frequency and purpose of use.  Inspections by Parks Victoria are recorded in Parks Victoria’s Asset Information System, while inspections conducted by DSE are recorded in the Government Infrastructure Management System. These inspections link with standards within the DSE draft Road Operational Guideline.

Roads and access on the Gunditjmara Traditional Owner owned properties and the three Indigenous Protected Areas (IPA’s) are the responsibility of the Gunditj Mirring Traditional Owners Aboriginal Corporation and Winda Mara Aboriginal Corporation (Tyrendarra IPA ).  Most roads on the properties and the IPA’s are not formed or surfaced and are managed in accordance with their Road Management Plan.

 

Gunditjmara Traditional Owners Native Title Rights

The Gunditjmara Traditional Owners 2007 Native Title consent determination recognised the non-exclusive native title rights of the Gunditjmara people over 140,000 hectares of vacant Crown Land, national parks, reserves, rivers, creeks and sea north west of Warrnambool. Rights strengthen Gunditjmara identity – Talking Native Title – National Native Title Tribunal 

 The recognised native title rights and interests include the non-exclusive right to:

  • have access to or enter and remain on the land and waters
  • camp on the land and waters landward of the high water mark of the sea
  • use and enjoy the land and waters
  • protect places and areas of importance on the land and waters
  • take resources of the land and water.

Management

 There is an extensive network of roads and tracks in the planning area that is maintained for a variety of uses, including access, access for recreation and tourism to visitor sites and park features, fire and protected area management activities and emergency response and transit. In providing for public access by two wheel drive, four wheel drive and other vehicles, protected area managers seek to achieve a balance between the legitimate and appropriate recreational use and achieving environmental protection. Some tracks in the planning area are closed seasonally during winter for public safety, to prevent damage to tracks as well as impacts on environmental and cultural heritage values.

Driving or riding of vehicles including motor vehicles and trail bikes on parks and reserves managed by DSE and Parks Victoria is permitted only on open roads and tracks in accordance with the Land Conservation (Vehicle Control) Regulations 2003 and National Park (Park) Regulations 2003. Driving or riding motorised vehicles on designated management vehicle only, seasonal closed (during the closed period), beaches and walking-only or shared tracks is not permitted. Bicycle riding in parks is managed in accordance with the National Parks (Park) Regulations, and in specified reserves, with the Crown Land (Reserves) (Nature Conservation Reserve) Regulations 2004.

Quad bikes are not eligible to be registered for road use in Victoria, unless an exemption applies. Quad bikes can only be operated under the conditions of the registration, Primary Producer Special Vehicle or Special Purpose Exemption. Quad bikes are not permitted on Victorian roads for recreational or commercial purposes including roads and tracks within park and forests. The only exception is the Swan Lake dune area within Discovery Bay Coastal Park where members of the Portland Dune Buggy Club are permitted to operate dune buggies off-road in accordance with a licence.

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VALUE OF ROADS AND TRACKS

Roads and tracks facilitate contact with the environment which enriches our psychological, emotional and spiritual wellbeing (Parks Forum 2008). Driving within and around the planning area also provides:

  • recreational, tourism and educational benefits;
  • income for regional economies; and
  • a social connection for communities. 

Some of these roads are becoming known as scenic touring routes. The Wood, Wine and Roses Forest Drive  travels through both the Cobboboonee National Park and Forest Park. The Portland and Discovery Coast regional tourism brochure promotes four scenic drives, three of which include parks and reserves as well as Gunditjmara Traditional Owners cultural heritage features in the planning area.

 

Parks Victoria’s Visitor Market Segmentation was developed to better understand various groups of visitors to parks.  The research shows park visitors visit primarily for scenic driving and sightseeing.  Scenic drivers seek a journey where they can also appreciate scenery, historic or cultural features.  Often they travel long distances and stay a short time within the park (Parks Victoria 2009).  Along with scenic driving, roads facilitate four-wheel driving, walking, trail bike riding, mountain bike riding, road cycling and horse riding (see Recreation Discussion Paper for further detail on these activities). 

 

ROADS AND TRACKS AND THE ENVIRONMENT

Parks Victoria conducts ecological research and monitoring to better understand the impact roads have on the environment.  Ecological effects of roads research shows roads:

  • are a source of habitat alteration and ecosystem damage
  • provide corridors for the movement of pest plants and animals
  • act as barriers to the movement of native animals, potentially fragmenting and isolating populations and communities
  • cause wildlife mortality
  • alter microclimates along edges.

Roads and tracks also have the potential to impact on Gunditjmara Traditional Owners and Non-Indigenous cultural heritage values.

The latest State of the Parks Report (Parks Victoria 2007) identifies that significant conservation benefits can be achieved by reducing fragmentation of parks and reserves due to roads and tracks.

 AStrategic Assessment of Fragmentation or Parks and Reserves by Roads and Tracks shows that within the planning area the Discovery Bay Coastal Park and Mt Napier State Park are the least fragmented by roads, while Mt Richmond National Park and Cape Nelson State Park are the most fragmented. 

 To mitigate these affects protected area managers:

  • only create new roads where they are essential for management
  • close roads and tracks that are no longer required and rehabilitates them to benefit the environment
  • conduct regular inspection of roads to ensure standards appropriate for the frequency and purpose of use are maintained.

ACCESS

Road and Track Maintenance

Seasonal road closures in parks and reserves managed by DSE and Parks Victoria are implemented to protect roads and adjacent bushland from damage caused by water run-off and erosion. These closures generally extend from the Thursday after Queens Birthday holiday to the Thursday before Melbourne Cup Day. Walkers are generally permitted to use seasonally closed and management vehicle only roads.

Climate change and predicted drier weather may see a change in how roads are managed, including changes to maintenance schedules. Drier conditions may also allow seasonally closed roads to remain open longer with seasonal closures decided annually based on actual conditions.

Roads may also be closed temporally for safety reasons. These closures are administered on an ‘as needs’ basis by the land manager.  

 

Management Vehicle Only Tracks

A small percentage of roads on Parks Victoria managed parks and reserves are closed to the public but remain available for use by park managers for emergency planning and response. Reasons for declaring roads Management Vehicle Only (MVO) include the presence of pathogens such as Phytophthora cinnamomi and recreational conflict. Parks Victoria has reached a Memorandum of Understanding with Four-Wheel Drive Victoria to permit access to many MVO’s in Victoria allowing use of the these roads in controlled circumstances in return for clearing and maintenance works on specified roads and tracks.

Access to Gunditjmara Traditional Owners properties and the three Indigenous Protected Areas is by management vehicle only roads and tracks or with Budj Bim Tours.

 

Signage

Signage provides visitors with identification, orientation, direction, information, public safety, seasonal road closure and other local conditions. Effective signage enhances the visitor experience and facilitates ease of access.

 Signage on major roads also provides visitors with directions to parks and reserves as well as key attractions.

 The Gunditjmara Traditional Owners have an aspiration for traditional names for roads in the planning area.

 In the planning area, Parks Victoria includes Gunditjmara Traditional Owners language and welcome on park and reserve entry and other orientation signage.

 All DSE managed roads are  signed in accordance with the DSE Signage Manual July 2010. DSE ensures that all new signs comply with the manual.

 

OPPORTUNITIES

  • Gunditjmara Traditional Owners aspirations for a skills audit and training/capacity building in all aspects of protected area management.
  • Investigate other opportunities for touring routes in the planning area.
  • Consistency of signage across land tenure –Parks Victoria, Gunditj Mirring Traditional Owners Aboriginal Corporation and Winda Mara Aboriginal Corporation  properties and IPA’s,
  • Investigate renaming roads and other park and reserve features with language, in accordance with relevant park management guidelines and the Guidelines for Geographic Place Names (DSE 2010).
  • Assessment of road/track rationalisation opportunities for Cobboboonee NP, Cobboboonee FP Gunditj Mirring  Traditional Owners Aboriginal Corporation and Winda Mara Aboriginal Corporation properties and IPA’s tracks and roads   Insert link to Gunditjmara Cultural Values

DIRECTIONS

The major direction for the management of roads and tracks is to work with key user groups and other bodies to create experiences sought by visitors and to develop a safe and sustainable road network for all road users.

 

DISCUSSION POINTS

What changes to road and track maintenance would improve your visit to the planning area?  Can you give examples?

Where would you like to see additional orientation, directional and informational signage?

 

FURTHER READING

Department of Sustainability and Environment Melbourne, March 2008. Road Management Plan March 2008, DRAFT 1

Department of Sustainability and Environment Melbourne, November 2007. Road Operational Guideline November 2007, DRAFT 1

Road Management Act 2004

Department of Sustainability and Environment Melbourne, July 2010. DSE Signage Manual July 2010

Parks Victoria, 2006. Summary Results – Visitor Market Segmentation

Parks Victoria 2007, State of the Parks 2007, Parks Victoria, Melbourne

Parks Victoria, 2009. Summary Results – Nature Admirers Sub Segments

School of Ecology and Environment, Deakin University, 2003. Ecological effects of roads

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