Legislative Council

QUESTION: Sturt Gorge Recreation Park

May 11th, 2017

On the 11th of May 2017, Mark asked the Minister for Sustainability, Environment and Conservation, and Water, a question about Sturt Gorge Recreation Park.

The Hon. M.C. PARNELL: Over the last year or so, a good deal of work has been done building new walking and mountain bike trails in the Sturt Gorge Recreation Park. However, there is one remaining missing link, and that is a pedestrian crossing over the Sturt River at the site of the massive flood control dam. If members are not familiar with this, it is one of the largest structures in Adelaide that most people have never seen. It is difficult to gauge its height but it must be 50 or more metres in height, made in 1965. It is a monumental structure.

The public have access to both sides of the dam; in fact, there is a public footpath accessible to the public that goes to the spillway in the centre, but what is missing is a pedestrian crossing of the last 20 or 30 metres. At this section of the Sturt River, there is no road crossing between Blacks Road in Coromandel Valley and down near Flinders University at South Road which is eight, maybe even 10 kilometres. There is no way of crossing it. There is a 20 metre gap.

I note that the advantage of filling that gap would be that the two halves, if you like, of Sturt Gorge Recreation Park would be joined. The suburbs of Flagstaff Hill and Bellevue Heights would be joined. It would be a superb sea-to-summit route because it is popular. I know the minister is fond of bushwalking, but you can actually walk from the gulf to the top of Mount Lofty through bushland and through recreation parks most of the way, if not for this missing link.

The final bit of information is that I note that the management plan for the Sturt Gorge Recreation Park includes as one of its strategies continued negotiations with SA Water, who own the dam, for public access across the dam wall.

My question to the minister is: what consideration has been given to this important project which has been called for not only in the government's own management plan for the park but also by the Friends of Sturt Gorge Recreation Park?
The Hon. I.K. HUNTER  (Minister for Sustainability, Environment and Conservation, Minister for Water and the River Murray, Minister for Climate Change): What an excellent question from an excellent local member! He is getting in touch with his bushwalking skills, and I hope to see him one day do the gulf to Mount Lofty walk in one go. That would be something to watch.
The Hon. M.C. Parnell: I've done it in a day. It's 30 kilometres.
The Hon. I.K. HUNTER: You've done it in a day. Excellent work!

An honourable member interjecting: 
The Hon. I.K. HUNTER: Other way around—gulf to Mount Lofty, I said, not Mount Lofty to the gulf. I thank the honourable member again for raising the topic. It is something that members of the local community and the Friends group have sought for some time, but for reasons of public safety, SA Water have to this date, as far as I know anyway, withheld their position on this matter.

I have not discussed this with SA Water for some time, I must confess, so I will undertake to take this question back to them and see what their current thinking is. But I know from speaking previously to people involved in this discussion, that it has been an issue of public safety that has been the major concern. I will see if there has been any progress for the honourable member and bring back a response.

 On 20 June 2017 the following reply was provided -

 Hon I Hunter MLC:

“I have been advised that:

SA Water manages and maintains the Sturt River Flood Control Dam as part of its four hectare landholding which is bounded on all sides by the Sturt Gorge Recreation Park.

SA Water has worked very closely with the Department of Environment, Water and Natural Resources (DEWNR) on the development and implementation of the Sturt Gorge Recreation Park Management Plan (2008) including providing public access to the dam wall since 2007. This access has proven to be very popular amongst local residents and bushwalkers.

SA Water and DEWNR have recognised the benefits of an adequate crossing of the gorge at Sturt Gorge Recreation Park to both SA Water’s operational business as well as the visitor experience at the park. The two organisations have been working on improving the gorge crossing and are seeking advice on potential engineering solutions to bridge the spillway.

Given that SA Water is planning unrelated dam upgrade works at the site in the short to medium term, both agencies have agreed to work together on the design of the crossing as part of the broader dam upgrade works. This will maximise efficiencies and limit any potential duplication and conflicting requirements. As with all works of this nature, any alterations to the dam wall will need to meet rigorous engineering standards to ensure the safety of users, the ongoing stability of the wall and maintaining flood capacity.”

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