The Department of Transport is working alongside emergency services, other government agencies and the Australian Defence Force to manage roads and public transport. The main goal now lies in helping communities rebuild, reopen and recover.
Our teams on the ground are also locals, living in bushfire affected areas and working to help rebuild their communities.
For the most up-to-date information on road access in bushfire affected communities visit the VicTraffic website.
To report a hazard on our roads, call the RRV hotline: 133 778
Major roads update – June 2020
All major roads in East Gippsland and North East Victoria have now been reopened after a massive recovery effort to reconnect communities following the bushfires.
The final 25 kilometres of Benambra-Corryong Road near Nariel Valley was recently reopened, a task that was impacted by several landslides that tore through the area in the months following the fires.
A huge concerted effort has gone into getting these roads reopened, so communities can access their homes, schools and workplaces.
We would like to extend a sincere thanks to all of the employees, agencies, contractors and technical specialists involved, as well as our communities for their ongoing patience throughout the recovery process.
Bushfire Recovery Victoria
A new Government agency has been established to listen, help and deliver on what bushfire affected communities need to recover.
Bushfire Recovery Victoria will be a permanent agency, dedicated to ongoing community support over months, years and decades.
You can find out more about Bushfire Recovery Victoria online, or call them on 1800 560 760.
Community Recovery Hubs
Community Recovery Hubs providing local access to vital services and a long-term presence in town are opening across Victoria’s bushfire-affected communities.
The hubs, delivered and operated by Bushfire Recovery Victoria, will be an important community meeting place linking locals to practical support, planning and rebuilding advice, case support for individuals in need, government and non-profit service providers and small business advice.
Hubs in Mallacoota, Buchan and Sarsfield are now open with hubs in Cann Valley, Orbost and Bright opening from the week of May 25. Hubs in Bairnsdale and Corryong have been operated by councils and supported by Bushfire Recovery Victoria since the summer.
Services at individual hubs are being specially tailored to reflect how those services are currently delivered and accessed at a local level – which is what community-led recovery is all about.
Further information including contact details and addresses can be found at Bushfire recovery Victoria.
Community firewood sites for Towong
Regional Roads Victoria have provided firewood salvaged from hazardous tree works in Towong Shire for community collection.
Residents must only collect firewood from designated areas and stay within collection limits, which are a maximum of two cubic metres per person per day and a maximum of 16 cubic metres per household per year.
The felling of trees for firewood is strictly prohibited.
Forest Fire Management Victoria (FFMVic) has nine active designated firewood collection areas in the Upper Murray District.
The autumn firewood collection season will officially close on June 30, 2020. The spring collection season will open on September 1, 2020.
Note, firewood collection areas may close earlier than scheduled due to a lack of supply, and road and forest conditions.
For the most up to date information, including interactive maps showing designated firewood collection areas, visit www.ffm.vic.gov.au/firewood, or you can call 136 186 to find out more.
More log trucks in Victoria’s North East
Victoria’s timber plantations are generally located in regional areas, some of which have been affected by bushfires.
Some timber plantations in the Upper Murray area still have timber that can be salvaged by logging experts.
Over the coming months, you will notice more log trucks on the Murray Valley Highway and Shelley-Walwa Road as they collect any timber that can still be used.
It’s expected there will be about 60 log trucks making up to 200 trips each day through this area to successfully extract all the salvageable timber. This operation could run for the rest of the year.
Ensure safe driving around log trucks:
- Keep to the left and drive cautiously, winding roads offer limited visibility.
- Avoid cutting corners, trucks legally use both lanes when turning.
- Lower your speed, trucks need more space to stop.
- Do not try to overtake a turning truck.
- Do not enter the timber plantations while these works are taking place.
Log Trucks are a fundamental requirement of the timber industry, transporting forest products to local mills and other regions.
Log truck operators are well trained in safe driving and will do their best to minimise disruption to the community and other road users in this time.
Rebuilding fences and determining boundary lines
Victorian communities are starting the task of rebuilding and recovering what was lost or damaged in the bushfires. A big part of this will be rebuilding fences and re-determining boundary lines for property.
It’s really important when building fences, that they lie within the correct lines and boundaries between properties. This is an opportunity to address and correct any irregularities that might have previously affected land boundaries.
If a fence is built in the wrong place, it can lead to incorrect occupation of land under different ownership.
Where can I go for more information on land titles and fence parameters?
There are a few resources you can use to help you in the construction of new fences on existing boundary lines:
- Visit LANDATA to verify title boundaries.
- Speak to your local Council’s planning department.
- Have a licensed Surveyor mark out the title boundary lines for you.
- For advice on building fences adjacent to road reserves or roads, see our section on fencing and property management here.
If you have any questions regarding the shared responsibilities of boundary lines, you can contact the Department of Transport’s property manager, BGIS.
Now that access has been restored to many major roads in bushfire affected areas, it means we can get in and get to work on clearing and repairing smaller, local roads to support local communities, industry and tourism.
We’re working hand in hand with local councils and the Australian Defence Force to support the reopening of local roads impacted by bushfires.
Impacts of rain on bushfire affected roads
After a bushfire, vegetation, verges and trees surrounding roads are burned or destroyed. This means if the area receives heavy rain, the roads are more prone to flooding, landslips and debris due to the loss of vegetation to stabilise soil.
If this happens, drains may become blocked and roads may have to be closed temporarily while our crews and emergency services work to make it safe again.
If you must drive during storm conditions or heavy rain, slow down, use your headlights and take extra care on the roads.
Following the reopening of several roads in East Gippsland and along the Sapphire Coast, a full V/Line coach service is now operating to and from Mallacoota, Batemans Bay and Canberra (via Bairnsdale).
For the safety of all road users there are lower speed limits on some sections of roads which will delay some coach services.
Alternate transport will be arranged if coaches miss train connections at Bairnsdale due to traffic delays, including coaches continuing to Traralgon to connect with later train services.
Plan your journey and book tickets using the V/Line website or speak to the team at your local staffed station or ticket agent.
Bus Route 12, Bairnsdale-Gelantipy via Lakes Entrance is now operating on a temporarily reduced route between Buchan and Bairnsdale via Lakes Entrance, in accordance with the timetable and until further notice.
Opening bushfire affected roads
With bushfires impacting over 1300km of roads in Gippsland and North-Eastern Victoria, our number one priority is providing safe access for people to return to their homes and communities as soon as possible.
The bushfires have severely damaged the road surface, compromised structures like retaining walls and bridges, and destroyed signs and line markings across East Gippsland and North East Victoria.
Tens of thousands of trees have been burned. Arborists have been busy individually assessing each tree, removing any that pose as a risk.
Some roads have suffered more damage than others. In some cases, we’ve been tackling pavement or structural damage, and restoring safety features like signs and barriers to make the network safe to use again.
Clearing and re-opening these roads has required a multi-agency effort. We’ve been working with DELWP Forest Fire Management, Parks Victoria, VicForests, and the Australian Defence Force (ADF) to clear roads, then undertake emergency repairs to enable safe access for the community.
This work doesn’t stop until services are restored, roads are reopened and communities are reconnected.
Road to Recovery - North East Victoria
Road to Recovery - East Gippsland
Local people fixing local roads
What fire does to a road
Safe driving in bushfire affected area
If you’re travelling through an area impacted by bushfires, it’s important to exercise caution, with smoke still reducing visibility on some roads.
We have reduced speed limits in place through many fire affected areas for your safety and the safety of our crews who are still on site clearing and repairing the roads. Other potential hazards to look out for include:
- Debris on the road from fallen trees and other vegetation
- Damaged signage or guideposts
- Workers or machinery on the road
- An increased presence of wildlife.
Real-time traffic information is available at VicTraffic website via the VicTraffic mobile app from the App Store or Google Play.
Stopping on bushfire affected roads
While roads that have re-opened are considered safe for travel, they’re not always back to their optimal safe operating condition.
Parking on the side of the road unnecessarily can cause a hazard for other motorists. Walking through areas near the roadside can put you at an increased risk of falling trees and debris.
If you’re travelling through a bushfire affected area don’t stop on the side of the road unless you have to.
Registration and ID for bushfire affected residents
When in a bushfire affected area, you may need identification to pass through some traffic management points.
If you have lost your driver licence due to bushfire, VicRoads can provide you with a replacement at no fee. To arrange a replacement card, call 13 11 71 or visit a VicRoads Customer Service Centre.
VicRoads can also assist you with replacing your registration documents or cancelling registration on a fire-damaged vehicle.
For more information on emergency relief, visit the Emergency Victoria website.
Safe road access
During these bushfires, road access has been managed by the Incident Control Centre (ICC), set up to coordinate the emergency response.
Each road is inspected to ensure it’s safe for all vehicles to travel on before being reopened under the direction of the ICC.
To ensure safety, different levels of access have been put in place. Sometimes a road might have restricted access for a certain type or number of vehicles, this is because it’s what the road can handle at that time due to damage from fires and repair works underway.
This also gives critical access to emergency services and agencies to inspect and repair roads, deliver supplies and provide relief, as well as for local residents and business owners to reach their properties.
When a road is closed, work is happening behind the scenes to safely restore access for the community.
Road access may be blocked by debris and hazardous trees, and the bushfire emergency may still be underway in some areas. The ICC may need to deploy powerful, heavy machinery to clear debris to allow access routes for emergency services.
Logging harvesters are then used to safely remove hazardous trees. In steep terrain, specialist tree-climbing arborists are required to remove hazardous trees by hand.
Once the road is cleared from dangerous trees and the fire danger has passed, our crews can enter the area to assess the damage and impact to the road. We then:
- clear any remaining debris from the roads
- repair the road surface where it has been damaged
- reinstate critical road safety infrastructure including guideposts, line marking and regulatory and warning signs
- assess the safety of critical infrastructure such as bridges, culverts and retaining walls.
We may reopen the road in stages with restrictions in place such as reduced speeds and lane closures, until all safety features are fully restored.
If it’s safe to do so, local residents, business owners and relief, recovery and supply services may be provided with authorised access to closed roads
Residents may be required to pass through traffic management points and show proof of residence.
If you’re permitted to access restricted roads that aren’t open to the general public, please drive with caution. When travelling through the area remember to:
- drive slowly
- obey directions from emergency services personnel
- never drive around traffic management points – these roads are not safe for you to enter.
Once the road has been safely restored, we’ll reopen access to the community.
We’ll also reinstate public transport services across Eastern and North-Eastern Victoria as soon as we can.
For more information download our fact sheet on accessing roads impacted by bushfires.
Regional Victoria is open for business
The fires have significantly impacted regional businesses that would be thriving from tourism at this time of year.
Regional roads are vital to tourism. We’ll do everything we can to ensure roads are reopened and tourists can get through as quickly as possible.
While there are still a few parts of Victoria that aren’t safe to visit after being affected by bushfires, so many regional destinations are open for business!
Chuck an empty esky in the boot and explore the amazing produce and experiences that regional Victoria has to offer.
Check out Visit Victoria for more details and travel inspiration and help support regional Victorian communities for your next getaway.
Regional Victoria's parks and forests
Parks and forests are open across Victoria. Before you plan to visit or camp for your next trip away, you can check if the park or forest you are planning to visit is open.
Accredited Visitor information Centres can also assist in helping you plan your journey.
For the latest emergency information or for details on the status of closed roads and the current situation, visit Vic Emergency.
If the road to your property is closed, we recommend you visit your local relief centre until the road reopens.
For information on school and early childhood service, TAFE closures and relocations, and bus service cancellations/alterations, visit Education and Training.
For any further information please email [email protected] or call the dedicated RRV hotline (133 778).
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