A working group has finalised a traffic management plan to deal with the high volume of visitors to the Royal National Park over the summer months.
The working group included representatives from Roads & Maritime Services, National Parks and Wildlife (NPWS), Sutherland Police, Sutherland Council, Bundeena Maianbar Chamber of Commerce as well as both Bundeena and Maianbar Progress Associations.
The Traffic Management Plan has five levels. The first three are administered by NPWS staff.
Level 1 - Business as usual. Everything fine.
Level 2 - Coast fills first, depending on conditions. Traffic intervention at roads where it's required (eg Wattamolla and Garie). Bonnie Vale is managed a different way because intervention at the gate causes problems in Bundeena so people will be allowed to drive in so they can convince themselves that it is full and can come out again.
Level 3 - Audley filling. People are moved on and away from full Audley car parks. Main road is always kept open. Staff on turnoffs direct traffic towards open areas and away from full ones.
It's expected on sunny Sundays in January and February levels 2 and 3 will be reached.
The next two levels are where the police step in to ensure public safety.
Level 4 – Police determine that due to heavy traffic in Bundeena and Maianbar, the towns are significantly full and causing problems to public safety. Maianbar turnoff would be the action point here. This has not yet happened but the plan is in place.
Level 5 – Police determine that traffic on the public road is unmanageable and posing a significant risk to public safety, and the road is closed. This depends on the issue (accident or fire). Police emergency response, with authority and rules to go with it – the exact location of closure depends on the nature of the problem and where it is.
Local resident Helen Armstrong who attended the working group meetings makes the following recommendations:
1) Have your bushfire plan ready. For those of us living in Bundeena and Maianbar, this means have your car ready too, in the event you get stopped by a Level 5 closure. Every year that passes without a major fire increases our chance of Level 5 closure due to fires, which (in the event of fire) could also involve monitoring possible partial access to residents (and their personal guests) through to areas not directly at risk, so ensure you are always carrying your ID and also safety supplies (wool blankets, bottles of fresh water, first aid kits). Carry sunscreen, a good book, your mobile phone and snacks for the kids (or yourself). If you're going shopping for perishables, take an Esky and if necessary turn back to the air-conditioned comfort of the shopping centre, or a friend with a fridge. Better yet - buy your perishables at IGA especially over summer. A fire cutting the road can happen with no notice and you can be stuck for hours. If authorities are concerned that the fire could become worse, they have the right to limit or prevent access to some or all. The scenario of an over-full town needing to be evacuated in the event of a 1994-style fire bearing down on us doesn't bear thinking about.
2) CARRY YOUR ID. Drivers licence is mandatory anyway. If your drivers licence does not show you as a Bundeena or Maianbar resident, then also carry a power bill or similar proof of your residence here.
3) Your guests will be classified as "residential visitors". We don't expect this to be needed, but for your peace of mind (and your guests') we suggest you email your version of the following:
"Dear [name of guest], we look forward to seeing you on [x date] at our home in [Bundeena/Maianbar address]. Traffic could be heavy so please try to get here before 9 am if you can. If you have any problems, call me on [resident's phone number]. Please print this email and bring it with you so if anyone asks you for it, you can show them. Signed, [resident's name]."
4) If you experience ANY problems, please document them and send the information to us IMMEDIATELY. Any other evidence you can get, such as the name of the person staffing a road block who is giving you grief, for example, let us know. Use your camera (most phones have them) and take photos of any problems, badly worded signs etc.
Send them to Helen Armstrong on
and we will ensure they get to the right people. We take this information on board and it is used to refine the plan each year. The authorities have actually asked us all to do this, to help so any problems can be rapidly identified in a way that makes it possible to fix, fast.
5) Be patient with the whole process - staff on the ground are under fire with more concerns about the overall situation than those waiting have got, as a rule. It's the price we pay for living in a place like this. We have to accept the occasional hassles and know the closures won't be invoked unless considered necessary.