Media Release – Wolgan Valley community appeals to NSW State Government to fund a safe and accessible road
19 February 2023
Wolgan Valley community appeals to NSW State Government to fund a safe and accessible road
The Wolgan Valley community is appealing to the NSW State Government to fund a permanent replacement for its only access road that was recently destroyed by landslips.
Three months on from a series of disastrous landslides that closed Wolgan Road at Wolgan Gap, the community of Wolgan Valley, including multiple businesses in the Valley, continue to endure the effects of isolation and crippling costs that the road closure has brought.
Since the closure of the Valley’s only access road, residents have been constrained in attending jobs and schools, and businesses have been forced to temporarily cease operation. Heavy vehicle access for deliveries and other essential services is currently unavailable. Limited access has been available to residents with light 4WD vehicles via an arduous emergency route known as the Old Coach Road, which is managed by the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service, with a small convoy travelling in each direction twice a day.
Those without a 4WD vehicle have needed to travel as passengers in the Lithgow City Council vehicle or rely on a resident having a spare seat in their 4WD. It was not uncommon for the convoys to be booked out well in advance, with residents regularly unable to get in or out of the Valley when they needed to, often having to find alternative accommodation outside the Valley.
In response to this disaster, Lithgow City Council have constructed and recently opened a new emergency route known as the Donkey Steps Track, which is limited to residents and Wolgan Valley businesses. While the track is continuing to be upgraded, it will likely take some considerable time before it is an all-weather option. Until then, residents remain at the mercy of the elements with any significant rainfall causing its closure.
President of the Wolgan Valley Association Martin Krogh stated “While the WVA acknowledges the important work on the Donkey Steps, everyone knows it is not a long-term solution”.
“As it currently stands, the Donkey Steps is not guaranteed to be accessible to 2WD vehicles due to its very steep gradient, reported to be around 32%, which puts it amongst some of the steepest roads in the world. It is not accessible to heavy vehicles and remains susceptible to closure during wet weather”.
Council have prepared a Donkey Steps Track Access Strategy outlining conditions of use of the emergency route however residents have been informed that they must accompany guests travelling on the track and that they can only use the track during daytime hours.
“The Association is supportive of and welcomes the safety measures being implemented by Council for the Donkey Steps but locking the gates from sunset to sunrise, leaving residents locked in overnight and unable to exit the Valley, is not acceptable” Mr Krogh said.
The Wolgan Valley Association is calling on the NSW Deputy Premier and State Member for Bathurst Hon Paul Toole and NSW Minister for Regional Transport and Roads Hon Sam Farraway to state their position on funding a permanent replacement for Wolgan Road prior to the upcoming NSW State election.
The Association also invites the Leader of the Opposition, Hon Chris Minns, to state the NSW Labor party’s position on funding a permanent replacement for Wolgan Road prior to the election.
For media enquiries contact: Wolgan Valley Association Communications Coordinator Kristie Kearney on 0439 464 660 or Wolgan Valley Association President Martin Krogh 0427 867 330 or via email at .
The Wolgan Valley Association is a non-profit community organisation by which landholders and residents in the Wolgan Valley can take collective action which they believe is in the best interests of protecting and promoting the natural, scenic, cultural, economic, and social values of the Valley for current and future generations.
For more information on the Wolgan Valley Association, please visit https://wolganvalley.org.au/wolgan-valley-association/