Buchan Caves Reserve Flood and Fire Recovery

Buchan Caves Reserve is one of several joint-managed parks within Gippsland. The Joint Management Agreement between Parks Victoria and Gunaikurnai Land and Waters Aboriginal Corporation (GLaWAC) recognises that Gunaikurnai people hold Native Title and maintain a strong connection to Country. Parks Victoria and GLaWAC are working in partnership to protect the cultural and environmental values of the reserve and deliver memorable visitor experiences. To achieve this we are developing a Cultural Heritage Management Plan for the reserve.

 

December 2023 flood

Last updated: 1 February 2024

 

Due to the floods in late December Buchan Caves Reserve remains closed to keep the community safe.

 

While closed, clean up and initial recovery works are underway.

 

Contractors will start assessments of Buchan’s caves, roads, bridges and buildings the week commencing 22 January. These engineering assessments will ensure we deliver recovery works safely and help us determine a reopening strategy and timeframes.

The local community also had the opportunity to attend a guided walk-through of the reserve this week to see the extent of the damage caused by the flood.

 

This builds upon the recovery works we’ve already undertaken across the Reserve in the last few weeks. At times, there have been more than 60 staff and contractors in the reserve working on a variety of clean up and make safe works. This includes Parks Victoria staff, Gunaikurnai Rangers, GLaWAC Natural Resource Management (NRM) crews, Forest Fire Management Victoria (FFMVic) crews, plumbers, electricians, arborists, AusNet Services, East Gippsland Catchment Management Authority and East Gippsland Water.

 

A long-term recovery approach will be developed. The reserve is likely to reopen in stages when facilities or areas in the reserve are safe.

 

In the interim, Parks Victoria and GLaWAC encourage people to still visit Buchan township as there is plenty to do in the area. For inspiration and further information visit the Discover Buchanwebsite. Visitors to East Gippsland are reminded to check the latest conditions and park closures before leaving home, and to regularly check weather forecasts and alerts.

 

Other information

 

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Bushfire recovery projects

Last updated: January 2024

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Fairy Cave entrance

The planning and approval processes are underway to replace the fire damaged roof of the Fairy Cave entrance. Permits and approvals are expected to be finalised in late 2023, with works to start in mid-2024.

Woman exploring Fairy cave, Buchan Caves Reserve

 

Guide Hut upgrade

The planning and approval processes are underway to rebuild the Guide Hut. These are expected to be finalised by the end of the year, with works starting in mid-2024. The project team is exploring temporary refuge options for our guides over this summer season.

 

Roofed accommodation

A design consultant has been engaged on this project and it is expected that designs will be completed in early 2024. The project will see the replacement of two cabins that were destroyed by the fires, creating an improved visitor experience with all-weather cabins and materials that are bushfire compliant.

 

Camp kitchen and laundry

A new camp kitchen with laundry is being built to replace the Wilderness Camp Kitchen that was lost to bushfires. A design consultant has been engaged and it is expected that designs will be completed by early 2024.

 

Flood mitigation

Designs are almost complete to establish a swale drain on the eastern side of the North Arm camping area. This will divert surface water runoff into Spring Creek during rainfall events, mitigating impacts of flooding within this area. Relevant approvals are expected in late 2023 with work to commence in early 2024.

 

Bush picnic area, cultural space, and yarning circle

Planning and further scope development is underway in partnership with GLaWAC to create a flexible recreational space that includes seating, a play space, amenities, and barbeque facilities.

 

Spring Creek Track works

The planning and approval processes are underway to replace fire-damaged structures along the walking track, including the pedestrian bridge, viewing platform, steps, edging and handrails.

 

Linakar tree replanting

We are planning to replant trees destroyed by the bushfires to align with the Hugh Linakar Landscape Plan. As part of progressing this project, a Heritage Victoria permit application is now underway.

 

Buchan Bridge No. 2

The rebuilt Buchan Bridge No. 2 was damaged in the Boxing Day flood. More information on the bridge's repairs will be maintained on this page.

 

 

The projects

The Black Summer bushfires of 2019-20 heavily impacted Buchan Caves Reserve and destroyed its cabins and wilderness retreats, camp kitchen tent and walking track structures such as handrails, steps and signs. Buchan Caves Reserve was then subsequently impacted by flood and storm events which also impacted the site and ability to commence works. We are replacing and upgrading the lost accommodation and visitor facilities to enhance visitors’ experiences in this unique landscape. 

 

Project timelines

The following timelines are subject to assessments, permits, and on-ground and construction industry conditions. Timelines will be updated here as projects progress.

Fairy Cave entrance: Work will commence after Easter 2024.

Guide Hut upgrade: Work will commence after Easter 2024.

Roofed accommodation: Work completed by late 2024.

Camp kitchen and laundry: Work completed by late 2024.

Flood mitigation: Designs are being finalised.

Spring Creek Track works: Relevant approvals are expected in late 2023 to enable work to start early 2024.

Bush picnic area, cultural space, and yarning circle: Designs to be completed by early 2024 and work complete by mid-2024.

Buchan Bridge No. 2: Work completed by late 2023.

 

 

Completed projects

Shared path

The shared path delivered by East Gippsland Shire Council from Buchan township into the reserve is now complete and open to the public.

 

Environmental management

Buchan Caves Reserve supports significant wildlife populations, with Eastern Grey Kangaroos and Brush-tailed Possums often seen throughout the reserve. Over 100 species of birds have been recorded, with King Parrots, White-winged Choughs, and Currawongs listed as common. Bats are known to use some caves for overwintering and roosting. Platypuses inhabit the reserve’s waterways, using Moon Cave as an important breeding location. The reserve has a variety of native and introduced vegetation, including several species listed as threatened under the Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act 1988, such as Limestone Blue Wattle and Leafy Greenhood Orchid. The Linakar Tree Landscape Plan supports the heritage values of the reserve’s introduced plantings.

Ecological assessments are being completed to protect flora and fauna during on-ground works.

 

 

Who we're working with

Parks Victoria and GLaWAC are working with East Gippsland Shire Council, Heritage Victoria, and the Department of Energy, Environment and Climate Action (DEECA).

 

 

Access changes

For more information about access to areas within Buchan Caves Reserve please visit Buchan Caves Reserve and check the change of conditions.

 

Project funding

$2.35 million has been provided by the Department of Jobs, Skills, Industry and Regions (DJSIR) and DEECA. The total budget will be confirmed once insurable asset amounts have been agreed.

 

Community information session

Parks Victoria hosted a bushfire recovery information session on 23 November, providing updates on recovery works and projects underway in East Gippsland parks. If you were unable to attend the session, a recording is now available (YouTube) or you can download a copy of the presentation here (PDF). All questions from the session as well those received subsequently are summarised here: Parks Victoria East Gippsland information session - questions and answers

 

 

Other information

For more information on what there is to see and do at Buchan Caves Reserve, and for further information on updated conditions, visit Buchan Caves Reserve.

For other bushfire recovery updates visit Cape Conran Coastal Park and Croajingolong National Park.

                                                                                                                                                                           

 

 
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