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Greg Hunt MP
Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for the Environment and Heritage
Federal Member for Flinders
28 April 2006
Greg Hunt MP, Parliamentary Secretary with ministerial responsibility for Kakadu National Park, today congratulated park staff on their response to Cyclone Monica which hit the World Heritage Area on Tuesday morning.
"Gale force winds with gusts of up to 160 kilometres an hour hit the northern parts of Kakadu, uprooting trees and stripping them of leaves," Mr Hunt said.
"Fortunately there have been no reported injuries or casualties and no major damage to park buildings or visitor sites although several private residences have suffered significantly. Most damage was caused by trees toppling over, particularly on houses in Jabiru and the Park Headquarters area.
"Damage was limited because of the high level of preparation by park staff and the effective cooperation with the local Counter Disaster Management Committee.
"All non-essential park staff were moved away from high risk areas in the north of the park. Emergency and safety equipment was at the ready and an incident management system put in place to deal with the cyclone impacts.
"Staff have worked hard to help restore essential services to Jabiru. All major roads are now clear of trees, but drivers should be very careful as there is still some road debris and the fallen trees have not yet been removed from the drainage ditches at the sides of roads."
The Arnhem Highway is closed outside Kakadu because of flooding and Ubirr will remain closed until the Magela Creek subsides and the road is safe, Mr Hunt said.
"Park staff are now concentrating on restoring access to visitor sites and helping local tourism businesses to get up and running again.
"Staff are repairing viewing platforms, walking tracks, shade shelters, toilet blocks and house roofs They are also assessing trees that could still pose a threat to buildings or visitor safety."
Heavy rains caused by Monica have added to late wet season flooding, Mr Hunt said. Waterways across the park are expected to remain high for some time yet and this will almost certainly result in delays to the opening of some visitor areas for the dry season.
"Insurance assessors will visit Kakadu next week and park staff will be monitoring the long-term environmental impacts of Monica on the park's World Heritage values," Mr Hunt said
For up to date information on visitor access, ring the Bowali Vistor Centre on 08 8938 1121 or visit the website: www.deh.gov.au/parks/kakadu/visitorinfo/roadreport.html#download
Kristy McSweeney (Office of Mr Hunt), 0415 740 722