Victoria’s alpine region has experienced a mass exodus of people as a slow-moving landslide cuts access to the Falls Creek ski village.
- The Bogong High Plains Road was closed at midday today due to a landslide
- Residents have been evacuating the mountain
- The Department of Transport will keep the road closed for several days
The Victorian Department of Transport made the decision to close the Bogong High Plains Road near Spring Saddle Track at midday today for safety reasons.
“With the predicted rain over the next few days … the slip will become unpredictable when it becomes saturated,” Department of Transport Hume director Steve Bowmaker said.
He said the community acted quickly as residents and others in the village were told to leave the area or risk being stranded as the region braced for more wet weather.
“We’ve seen quite a lot of traffic coming down the mountain all morning as people have made the decision,” he said.
“There’s also been a few people who have been down to Mt Beauty to do some shopping and get supplies and then go back and dig in for a bit of a longer stay.”
Falls Creek guide Mark McDonald decided to leave the mountain early.
“I went down to the mighty Yackandandah last night and stayed with friends just to get off the mountain and get away basically,” he said.
With upcoming travel plans, he said he didn’t want to leave anything to chance, a feeling shared by many others who called the alps home.
“Most people have left but there’s also a lot of building going on there at the moment so a lot of those guys will probably [stay] if they’ve got the materials and can still do the work,” he said.
The road is likely to remain closed for several days but the Department of Transport said it could still be accessed by emergency services and essential workers.
They include Mt Beauty resident Tom Robinson, who works at a supermarket on Falls Creek.
“There are a few locals that are still around but it’s just been business as usual really,” the 23-year-old said.
He said he would try to get down the mountain and back home safely at the end of his shift but his employer had accommodation nearby where he could stay if he got stuck.
“I’m used to the road and [those at the roadblock] will tell me if it’s not safe to drive through, so I’m not worried,” he said.
Meanwhile, Outdoor School Bogong campus students and staff piled onto buses this morning to evacuate safely.
“We’re leaving one staff member behind who lives at Bogong to tend to the animals that we have there,” school principal Tony Keeble said.
“[But] students will head back to their home school and staff will head back to Mt Beauty where they’ll work remotely,” he said.
Mr Keeble said landslides were common in the area.
“The landslide is at an old existing landslide site which Vic Roads had fixed up many years ago,” he said.
The Department of Transport says it is difficult to determine how long the road will remain closed but the closure and the condition of the road will be reviewed after the predicted weather event.
“If you were planning to go up to Bogong or Falls Creek over the next few days please change your plans, the road will be closed,” Mr Bowmaker said.
“Given the strong prediction of heavy rain right across our region, if you don’t need to be driving in alpine areas or in any of the flood-affected areas, you’re far better off over the next few days to stay home.”
Whilst it was typically a quiet period for the resort, Mr McDonald said there would still be impacts as a result.
“We’re all business owners, we want people to come up in the summer months and to get that going,” he said.
“It impacts the community quite a bit … everything starts to relaunch from the 1st of November so from a business point of view we want access.”
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