Public Works Committee: Waterfall Gully to Mount Lofty Summit Trail Restoration


I rise to speak to the report of the Waterfall Gully to Mount Lofty Summit Trail Restoration Works Project. I thank members of the Public Works Committee, including of course the new Chair, the member for Kavel. I appreciate the contribution they have made to the parliament. Clearly, they are active and passionate in their work on the Public Works Committee, which personally I think is one of the most important committees that we have in the parliament. They have undertaken their role of scrutinising this project so that it not only be fit for purpose but be of public value and, of course, value for money.

In my contribution, I would like to confirm that the government's promotion of this project, which happens to be in my electorate and supports the restoration works post the 2016 floods, has not been in isolation. Apart from the fact that it is an international visitor destination—in fact, well over a million people use this trail and other trails, including Chambers Gully walk and Cleland Conservation Park—it is important that it provides a safe amenity for the purposes of continued access.

As a result of the floods back in 2006, 10 years before, we had damage to the Waterfall Gully area. Some 11,000 tonnes of rock from the top of the causeway and waterway ended up at the bottom. It massively affected the flooding along Waterfall Gully Road and large sections of the road completely collapsed. There was significant scrutiny on the damage that was caused. Personally, I would not be rushing to live on Waterfall Gully Road anyway, just because of access during a bushfire, but in the time that I have represented the area flooding has been its enemy.

I would like to express to the house why it is so important that we maintain this and why this project is so important. I recall the words of former minister Conlon when the major flooding occurred in 2006 and 2007. In tow with the then premier, Mr Rann, he was inspecting the damage along the road, and his public comment was that the Burnside council had a lot to answer for. It did not take long for it to be pointed out to him that not only was the rock from the causeway state rock but the whole facility was a state asset; it was bordered by a state park and it was a state road. With egg on his face, he then had to crawl back and start negotiating how he was going to support the rebuild of that area.

As a government, we are proud to say that this is an important state asset and we have taken the step of ensuring that it is maintained properly. The extraordinary amount of use of this area has called for two extra things to happen. The first is already happening, and the Minister for Environment is well aware of this. The waterway along Waterfall Gully Road, some of which traverses private, council and public asset via state government land, has been severely overgrown with weeds, particularly bamboo.

I suggested when we got the pandas (I see they are probably on their way back to China at the end of their lease) that we could fence off that area, stick the pandas out there and see if we could deal with the issue, but that does not seem to have been taken up. Nevertheless, the new government are mindful of this and of the damage that it causes by having waterways clogged—in this case, with an invasive pest. It obviously needs to be cleaned out and I have observed some considerable work being undertaken there.

The second thing is that we need to do more to ensure that there are other walking trails available to traverse the Mount Lofty climb. The member for Heysen enjoys the benefit of traffic redirection up the freeway for people to now climb from Crafers. They can park their car in the park-and-ride area, if they want to, or enjoy some refreshment or lunch at the Crafers Hotel.

The best hotel in Australia, indeed. I was there on Sunday. I do not think I actually let the member for Heysen know that I was going to be up there; I am sorry. In any event, that has enabled people to have parking access and enjoy the summit walk from a different angle. Some work had been done prior to him coming in and I know that he will carefully husband the protection of that access.

There is a third area, which is still to be done, and that is the Chambers Gully walk. It is not as steep and is also enjoyed by a lot of people, but it is also plagued with the problem of inadequate parking, so people park along the road. As previous speakers who have been up there and inspected this area have indicated, they appreciate the significance of the parking problem. It is also a problem for the Utopia cafe that operates there because their patronage is diminished if their patrons are not able to park and it is prioritised for those who are up there doing the walk.

There are lots of challenges there. One of the initiatives is to expand the parking at the entrance of the Chambers Gully Road parking area. There still needs to be a security gate because there is a rifle range up there and to ensure that there is an adequate impediment for people who should not be in the park or may be in danger if they were in and around the rifle range. We need to ensure that we maintain the protection and add to the number of parking bays for short-term parking so people have the alternative to use Waterfall Gully.

I assure the committee that, as the local member, I am continuing to look at other ways in which we can assist your task, and indeed the task of the government, to have some options in that regard. We are still a highly sought-after destination and we are proud of it. We are keen to look after the safety and enjoyment of the people who visit, and I thank the committee for their very comprehensive consideration of this project.