National park flood recovery on the North Coast

The 2022 flood was the worst on record and major repairs will take time.

The 2022 flood was the worst on record

The February and March 2022 floods were a major natural disaster and had a catastrophic impact on Northern Rivers communities. The Bureau of Meteorology described the record-breaking and relentless deluge that flooded towns and cities in Queensland and New South Wales as one of the most extreme disasters in Australian history.

Many century-old records fell when a series of La Niña-driven, deep low-pressure systems repeatedly dumped intense rain on a sodden landscape. The highest official weekly total recorded was 1,346 mm at Uki on the Tweed River. Rosebank (Repentance Creek) received 620 mm in one day, more than 200 mm above the previous daily record.

It will take time to recover and rebuild. It is expected to take at least 5 years to repair the damage to North Coast national parks and nature reserves. In addition, many local roads have been impacted, so access to some parks may be restricted or involve significant detours due to damage and ongoing roadworks. Some parks will remain closed to the public until flood damage is assessed and repaired.

Heavy rainfall and flash flooding caused extensive damage to park roads, management trails, bridges, walking tracks and campgrounds, presenting public safety risks to staff and visitors. National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) is responsible for more than 31,000 km of fire trails and associated infrastructure across New South Wales. Most of the park roads, trails and tracks in the Northern Rivers region suffered some damage in the flood. Almost 600 flood-related repairs have been identified and recorded to date.

Over $14 million worth of damage had been recorded in defect notifications, with only 25% of parks assessed. The highest recorded damage has been to park roads and trails with landslips, rutting, blocked culverts and debris. Walking tracks, carparks, picnic areas, and campgrounds have also suffered erosion, landslips, tree falls and debris.

Despite the challenges, we have been working hard to inspect and reopen visitor precincts, roads and walking tracks across the North Coast. However, some parks and tracks will remain closed while more detailed assessments and repairs are completed.

The persistent rainfall since the floods has made repair work very difficult. Conditions need to be dry for repairs of roads, tracks, causeways and culverts to be effective, and continuing wet weather is causing repeated damage. We will focus on clearing out drains and culverts to avoid further damage to roads from more rain.

Flood pollution debris such as white goods, tanks, pallets and round hay bales remain in low-lying parks as it has been too wet for vehicles to access these areas to remove them.

Timelines to repair damage have extended due to prolonged wet weather conditions and a shortage of experienced contractors.

Significant damage due to washouts and landslips will take longer to stabilise and reopen. Around 30 major landslips have been identified.

Each landslip requires geotechnical assessments by independent engineering experts. These geotechnical reports provide the technical basis upon which permanent solutions for these slips can be designed and built. Temporary detours may not be possible.

As with all emergencies, National Park and Wildlife Service's first priority is to protect life and property.

Our priorities for North Coast flood emergencies and recovery are:

  1. Respond to emergencies by checking for visitors in park campgrounds or on walking tracks to ensure their safety.
  2. Inspect and respond to dangerous road conditions that may pose risk to life and property, for example, if a road is blocked by landslips, trees, etc. Roads may be cleared or closed.
  3. Reopen access through parks to private residences on neighbouring properties (inholdings). We want park neighbours to be able to get the supplies or medical attention they need.
  4. Repair public through roads that link communities, or that provide alternative routes where floodwaters have blocked normal routes. This helps the community to move around to attend school, work, etc.
  5. Reopen roads to public assets and infrastructure, such as campgrounds and communications towers.
  6. Staff safety. Ensure staff can get home and look after their property and family. Staff are not to risk floodwaters attempting to get to work.
  7. Assess and, where practical, open up public recreation areas, including walking tracks to allow the public to enjoy the park system again.
  8. Clear, assess and repair park management trails, allowing us to get on with our jobs.
  • Currently, there are temporary closures in some of our parks, campgrounds, walking tracks and roads. All the information is at NPWS Alerts.
  • Most tracks within national parks are unsealed, and the surface may become slippery and washed out in sections. Some walking tracks are currently closed and may require some maintenance before we can reopen them.
  • National parks, by their very nature, are wild and remote places. We want people to enjoy themselves while also taking care due to the unpredictability of weather and other natural hazards.
  • Creeks and rivers may rise if the rain persists and may have strong currents.
  • People must not enter closed areas. Park closures are put into effect only after careful risk assessment by park managers and are in place for public safety. Penalties apply if closures and bans are not adhered to.
  • Go to NPWS Alerts or call NPWS on 1300 072 757 (13000 PARKS) for more information on park closures, conditions and camping.
  • Check the Live Traffic NSW website for the latest on road conditions.

Heavy rainfall and flooding across New South Wales has created dangerous conditions in some areas and the closure of many national parks and campgrounds. Remember:

  • Do not cross floodwaters – Do not cross flooded creeks and floodwaters for any reason.
  • Road closures – Some park and access roads may not be passable and may close at short notice. Check for alerts or call ahead in remote areas. Access to some parks has changed due to road closures.
  • Be mindful of trees – Soggy ground and sustained rains increase the risk of tree falls. Do not shelter or camp under trees.
  • National park updates will be provided on this webpage. Register your interest to be notified of updates.
  • For emergency help in floods and storms, call the NSW State Emergency Service on 132 500. In life threatening situations call triple zero (000) immediately.
  • For flood recovery assistance:
  • Report non-urgent hazards in national parks by ringing the National Parks Contact Centre on 1300 072 757 (13000 PARKS).
  • Please don't use social media to report problems.

Update March 2023

The National Parks and Wildlife Service is moving full steam ahead repairing roads and visitor facilities in the Tweed Byron and Richmond River areas of the NSW North Coast.

  • 10 Mar 2023

Update December 2022

The National Parks and Wildlife Service has reopened some favourite visitor facilities in the Tweed Byron and Richmond River areas of the NSW North Coast, in time for Christmas and the summer holidays.

  • 22 Dec 2022

Update November 2022

The National Parks and Wildlife Service is making good progress with flood recovery works in the Tweed Byron and Richmond River areas of the NSW North Coast.

  • 22 Nov 2022

Update August 2022

This is the second of regular updates that will keep you informed about the progress of National Parks and Wildlife Service flood recovery works in the Tweed Byron and Richmond River areas of the NSW North Coast.

  • 28 Aug 2022

Update June 2022

These regular updates will keep you informed about the progress of National Parks and Wildlife Service flood recovery works in the Tweed Byron and Richmond River areas of the New South Wales North Coast.

  • 30 Jun 2022

To register your interest to receive updates please complete and submit the form.

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North Coast Flood Recovery Updates – Register of interest

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