Wollumbin Summit track extended closure

Extension of Summit track closure.

Wollumbin National Park, formerly known as Mount Warning National Park, is closed due to significant safety issues on the Wollumbin Summit track.

The park has been closed since March 2020 to comply with COVID-19 rules on public gatherings and physical distancing, particularly related to use of the chain near the summit of the climb.

During this closure, an independent engineer's structural assessment strongly recommended the closure of the 100-metre chain section used by climbers to access the summit.

This assessment noted the existing posts in the chain section was reaching the end of their design life, increasing the risk of further accidents or fatalities.

The independent engineer's assessment led to the conclusion that catastrophic failure of this chain section was very high.

Safety is a priority for the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS), and as such the summit track closure has been extended.

We understand that locals and visitors may be disappointed by the extended closure; however, our main priority must always be to ensure the safety of visitors and staff.

We will now consider the Summit track's future, in consultation with key community and tourism stakeholders including Aboriginal Elders and knowledge holders.

The Pinnacle walking track and lookout in Border Ranges National Park offers uninterrupted views over the World Heritage-listed rainforest, the crater escarpment, Wollumbin (Mount Warning) and the Tweed Valley. The Best of All Lookout, accessed via Queensland's Springbrook National Park, also provides a stunning mountain view.

Byrrill Creek walking track is a short walk in Mebbin National Park that takes you through subtropical rainforest and past large ancient fig trees, ideal for birdwatching.

Other alternatives include the Goorgana walking track, Pholis Gap walking track or Protesters Falls in nearby Nightcap National Park.

The 8.8-kilometre return Summit track is a very steep and challenging track rising 720 metres in altitude to the summit at 1096 metres. It includes a rock scramble section in the final 100 metres of the ascent which requires a high level of fitness, experience and skill, where climbers need to use chains to ascend a near-vertical exposed rockface.

NPWS and NSW Police have responded to 44 significant visitor safety incidents on the Summit track over the past 10 years, including 2 deaths. These incidents have involved both heli-evacuations and search and rescue operations. The number of unreported injuries is likely much higher.

Wollumbin Summit is a sacred place of the highest significance to Bundjalung and other Aboriginal people.

In 2014, in recognition of this special significance and cultural heritage values, the peak of Wollumbin in addition to being in the national park, was declared as an Aboriginal Place. This provides additional protection for the cultural values on the mountain and ensures Aboriginal people have a say in its management.

An Aboriginal Place Management Plan is currently being prepared to formalise the views of the Aboriginal community on the future management of this significant area.

The $7.35 million Tweed Byron Hinterland Trails project was initiated to help alleviate the safety and cultural risks at Wollumbin National Park by providing alternative experiences in the Tweed Byron region.

Work has commenced on stage one of that project to increase capacity and enhance visitor access and safety at Minyon Falls lookout and nearby day use area.

The project will also deliver a signature multi-day walk from Unicorn Falls in Mount Jerusalem National Park near Uki to Minyon Falls in Nightcap National Park by 2022.

Next steps

We will develop a Wollumbin master plan to engage the community and stakeholders in the future management of the park, in line with the recommendations of the Aboriginal community.

This will provide opportunities for alternate visitor experiences that celebrate the park's natural and cultural values while also supporting the visitor economy.

The master plan will also consider the potential longer-term closure of Wollumbin summit.

Community members with an interest in the management of this area will be invited to provide input through this process.

To be notified about future consultation opportunities, please register your interest using the online form below.

Wollumbin Summit track closure, Wollumbin National Park

Register your interest

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