Locals anger at Blue Mountains National Park closure after landslide

Furious locals slam shutdown of entire national park after British dad and son were killed in landslide: ‘Like closing every beach after a shark attack’

  • Blue Mountains National Park has been closed as of 9am on Wednesday
  • Two people were killed after they were caught in landslide in Wentworth Falls
  • Locals say closing the whole national park after the tragedy is an ‘overreaction’
  • Two other family members are in a critical condition while teen girl escaped

Locals have blasted a decision to shut down an entire national park following the tragic deaths of a British father and son in a landslide, saying it’s like shutting down every beach on the coast following a shark attack.

Authorities shut the Blue Mountains National Park from Wednesday morning – with the exception of the Evans and Govetts Leap lookouts – due to heavy rain smashing the city. 

The closure comes just days after a bushwalker dad, 49, and his son, nine, were crushed to death in a rockslide in Wentworth Falls on Monday afternoon. 

The man’s wife, 50, and another son, 14, were also hit by the falling rocks and are now fighting for life in a critical condition. A 15-year-old girl escaped the landslide and raised the alarm in a frantic call to emergency services at around 1.30pm.

The Blue Mountains National Park will be closed from Wednesday morning, excluding Evans Lookout and Govetts Leap lookout due to heavy rain forecast

The closure comes after a British father and his son were killed in a landslide in Wentworth Falls on Monday afternoon 

Local environmentalist and former director for the Colong Foundation for Wilderness, Keith Muir, said the closure of the entire park is an ‘overreaction’.

The closure is related to significant rain forecast for the rest of the week. Monday’s landslide came after a week of torrential rainfall.

‘This is an overreaction to a very sad event,’ Mr Muir said. ‘Equivalent to closure of ocean beaches after a fatal shark attack.’

Mr Muir said the event was very sad, but noted the tragedy was rare.

‘It’s a very sad event but it’s a very rare event and needs a nuanced approach rather than a shutdown of any at risk walking track,’ he told the Blue Mountains Gazette.

‘The Parks service and the council can’t protect the public from every single tree or every single rock in the park, it’s just impossible.’

A local environmentalist said closing the entire Blue Mountains National Park was an ‘overreaction’

The park has been closed due to heavy rainfall forecast for the rest of the week

The environmentalist added that the walking tracks offered mental health benefits for hikers and should be kept open ‘for that reason alone’.

Mayor Mark Greenhill said he’d asked the council to close any tracks which were in at risk areas.

The family who were caught in the landslide had been were permitted to use the advanced Wentworth Pass track, famous for its stunning waterfall views and valley lookouts, despite weeks of wild weather making the area dangerous for hikers. 

NSW National Parks confirmed the 5km loop was inspected days before the landslide as part of a routine assessment program.

Paramedics were winched from a rescue helicopter down the cliff face as they searched for anyone who had been taken by moving debris

‘Unfortunately, it is not possible to predict and eliminate all natural risks such as rockslides, which can occasionally occur around the state,’ a statement read.  

The Wentworth Pass track is considered as having a grade four difficulty under NSW National Park and Wildlife Service guidelines, which recommends only experienced bushwalkers use it.     

But several areas around Wentworth Falls have been closed since March 11 due to flood damage, with a major landslip recently shutting down Kedumba Valley Road, which is next to the trail.   

National Pass, another trail about 350 metres away from Monday’s deadly incident, has also been closed for the past few weeks due to an ‘ongoing rockfall risk’.   

A man who was at the popular tourist spot about the same time as the Brits on Monday told Daily Mail Australia he cautiously cut his hike short because the ground was muddy and stairways were wet and he’d recently suffered a leg injury on a trek. 

Hiking fanatics who visited the same trail in recent days have expressed their shock and offered condolences to the British family online. 

Police are seen at the scene following the death of the father and son on Monday

‘This is the trail we completed two days earlier and were unaware of any dangers at the time,’ they wrote on Facebook.

‘Our thoughts are with the families of these walkers’. 

The family were holidaying in Australia from the UK, NSW Police have confirmed, and the British Consulate is now assisting.

Authorities are still working to determine whether the landslide fell on the group while they were walking along a bush track, or if they were trekking along the cliff face that fell.   

‘Unfortunately there’s been a landslip while they were bushwalking and a man and a boy have passed away,’ NSW Police Detective Acting Superintendent John Nelson said.

‘In terms of the site, it’s extremely dangerous and unstable.’ 

Police crews returned to the scene early on Tuesday morning to recover the bodies of the man and boy.

The retrieval of the bodies was a planned and delicate operation due to the nature of the terrain at the site. 

The tracks in the Wentworth Falls precinct of the park have been closed indefinitely. 

A police rescue helicopter is retrieved the bodies of the two victims on Tuesday


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