Work begins to make Sandstone Caves safe following fire

Following a fire last weekend, Sandstone Caves in the Pilliga Nature Reserve will be closed while NPWS staff make the area safe.

Burned trees near Sandstone Caves, Pilliga Nature Reservce, after bushfire, December 2015.

NPWS Baradine Area Manager John Whittall said the fire started near the Newell Highway, south of Pilliga Nature Reserve on Sunday 14 December at about 2pm.

“Arriving quickly on the scene and then working through the night using heavy plant and machinery, crews from NPWS and the Rural Fire Service were able to keep the fire to a relatively small size of around 550 hectares.

“The fire burned from the roadside and onto private property before entering the national park, causing some damage to wooden infrastructure in the park and several interpretive signs, but leaving the caves unharmed.

“Our main concern now is making the area safe again for visitors and the biggest threat is falling trees.

“We will be assessing the walking track for burnt out trees, and the risk caused by the fire loosening rocks and trees at the top of the cliffs which may unexpectedly fall down on to the walking track.

”We expect the visitor area to be closed for one or two months, but we have already started working on the track to make that period as short as possible.

“Some signs, and wooden infrastructure in the Sandstone Caves precinct will also need replacing such as seats, bollards and stairs,” Mr Whittall said.

“We will continue to keep local visitor centres updated, or visitors can call the Pilliga Forest Discovery Centre on (02) 6843 4011 or visit our website for the latest information: www.nationalparks.nsw.gov.au

Photos: Sandstone Caves fire December 2015

Contact: Jacki Roberts