media releases
The hard road to recovery
March 28, 2024

Wellington Shire experienced 14 declared emergency events between March 2021 and February 2024, including floods, wind and thunderstorms, bushfires and an earthquake. Five of these events alone occurred between October 2023 and February 2024.

The combined emergencies have resulted in an estimated $12 million in damage to Wellington Shire Council’s assets, such as roads, drains and bridges, and more than 230 road closures. Closures are resource-heavy procedures, with staff travelling to far corners of the Shire to close off impacted roads at any hour of the day, revisit post-emergency for inspection, fix the damage and then reopen.

Some of the projects over the past year include:

  • Repairing major landslip damage on Jamieson – Licola Road, Woorarra Road and Dargo High Plains Road;
  • Repairing other landslip damage on many roads including Wonnangatta Road and Yarram – Morwell Road.
  • Planning for multiple further landslip repairs on Buttners Saddle Road (near Carrajung), Woorarra Road, Yarram – Morwell Road, Upper Dargo Road, Talbotville Road, Hedley Range Road (north of Welshpool) and Albert River Road (near Hiawatha); and
  • Repairing abutment washouts and removing debris for numerous bridges across our municipality such as Greenaways Bridge on the Yarram-Morwell Rd.

Fixing these roads is crucial for the communities that depend on them for safe access, as well as the economic flow-on benefits of industry and tourism. One emergency event can produce a month of work for minor damage, to years of work for complex rebuilds that require detailed assessments, engineering reports, approvals and tender processes.

Continual emergencies also have impacts beyond infrastructure. They can fatigue Council’s roads staff, who often sacrifice family time to respond after hours and on weekends with minimal notice, working around the clock to make sure the road network stays safe for road users – sometimes while they are impacted by the emergency themselves. Often, external contractors and consultants are hired to assist with call outs and provide extra capacity.

Recurring emergency events mean Council’s resources are being diverted to recovery works. Unfortunately, keeping the road network operational can take priority over regular roads maintenance programming, such as grading, and delivering on strategic projects.

With an expectation these events will increase in frequency as climate change progresses, Council will prioritise emergency impacts when it comes to budget and resource allocation.

Council’s draft budget will be released for public review in April. In the proposed budget, Council plans to focus on maintaining important services, proposing further action to prepare, protect and recover from the impacts of climate change. As the third largest municipality in Victoria for land size, this year’s budget needs to prioritise repairs and recovery to keep all corners of Wellington Shire connected.

Council is committed to ensuring residents, businesses and communities are resilient and continue to thrive, no matter the disruptions associated with emergency events and climate change.

McKinnons Road Tinamba following flooding.
Landslip damage on the Jamieson-Licola Road.
The Jamieson-Licola Road following repairs.

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