What happened to Wagonga Scenic Drive
This week the Beagle's attention was drawn to a letter to the editor drawing attention to the closure of the northern section of Wagonga Scenic Dr that surrounds Wagonga inlet Narooma. Brian Braines advised that he had made exhaustive attempts to establish why this northern section had been closed and to advise councils refusal to explain to him why they won't maintain it. The road loop has always historically been graded by Eurobodalla Council for more than 30 years and until the last decade signposted as a Tourist Route that provided a route around Wagonga Scenic Drive linking Kianga Forest Road, Box Cutting Road and Wagonga Scenic Drive
It was observed by Mr Braines that a bridge along this section "was somehow left out" of the shire bridge reconstructions that were carried out on the rest of Scenic Drive some years ago under a State Gov grant. It was noted that around this time the remote section of Box Cutting Road fell into disrepair and all but closed by the actions of Forestry Corp.
mr Braines asked "How can this once very popular Tourist Route just be closed without public consultation and advice in a fire prone area? In fact the loop still shows up as open on mapping devices, including those used by emergency vehicles. I contacted three fire stations to see if they were aware of the closure and no they hadn't been officially notified."
"Also three state forest tracks terminate on this closed section. Sound like a recipe for disaster?"
He suggested that the council administration is running elected councillors in circles, and these elected officials are powerless to even be advised of the status of this section of road or why it was closed or how it can be reinstated.
Above: from the Public-Forum presentation 28-August-2018 "I have approached the General Manager, put a formal presentation to all the councillors at a Council meting and personally contacted four councillors, all to no avail. I'm still waiting for replies from some, six months ago." Council, for many years had maintained Box Cutting Road that appears, from Six Maps and Council's GIS as Forestry owned in return for Forestry graders maintaining other remote Eurobodalla owned pubic roads. It is understood that this arrangement ceased around a decade ago for a remote section of Box Cutting Road that formed part of the loop.
Above: the distances and dates are from Councils annual Grading Schedule of roads under their care and control
Forestry rarely maintain roads unless extracting from the forest. In this area they withdrew their own road maintenance some time ago leaving it in what is now a barely passable condition. It is certainly no longer the once popular Wagonga Scenic Loop that unfortunately still remains promoted in some tourism booklets and on various websites.
Above: 2010 Tourist Route sign in place pointing to the Scenic Drive. Kianga Forest Road
Above: 2010 Tourist Route sign in place. Old Highway Narooma
Council, in charge of endorsing Tourist Routes withdrew its support of the Wagonga Scenic route around 2010 that saw the brown and white tourism signs promoting the Tourst Drive removed. The loop is still promoted on Council's tourism website but only as a suggested bike trail.
Mr Braines said in his letter "Before Christmas I related all this to Mr Constance, including the serious wash out that has occurred along this section of road due to no maintenance (see photo provided) saying it was a danger to people still using the road,especially in the holiday season."
In Council's adopted Eurobodalla Shire Council – Wayfinding & tourism signage strategy the Wagonga Scenic Drive is stated as no longer an official tourist route because of the condition of the road. The Strategy cited that the feedback was that this scenic drive should be reinstated advising "It needs to be determined if this is a priority and will result in improved visitor numbers and length of stay." The recommendations of this strategy advise that Council consider opportunities for tourist drives and scenic routes including: • Locations such as Wagonga Scenic Drive, the Old Highway and Tuross Head • Participating in the development of an RMS tourist drive strategy where possible. • Routes for certain vehicles only (e.g. 4WD).