As the entire world faces a collective challenge during the COVID-19 outbreak, we sincerely hope you and your families are safe and healthy.

VKS-737 Radio Network is closely monitoring developments and following the World Health Organisation, the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, and government recommendations regarding this worldwide pandemic.

We’re doing everything we can to continue delivering our world standard HF radio emergency and safety service for our subscribers as they are travelling in remote and outback areas of Australia. As we do this, we need to protect the health and well being of all our subscribers and team members.

Like other organisations, we’re asking our staff, committee, operators, volunteers and subscribers to maintain high standards of hygiene and cleanliness and try to keep social distancing wherever possible and if they are feeling unwell, seek medical advice.
To minimise risks we are no longer accepting visitors to VKS-737 Head Office until further notice, all contact with VKS-737 staff during this period is either by email, mail, telephone and radio-telephone only.
We are also asking subscribers to refrain from requesting visits to VKS-737 base station operators.

Because of the impact the Covid-19 outbreak will have on our Subscribers, particularly with many borders closing, it’s been decided to continue the change to the Winter Schedule as advertised, however all voice skeds will only be half an hour long.

The half hour time will commence at the advertised starting times of voice skeds as shown in the Winter Schedule. You can view this on Page 12 of the VKS-737 Reference Manual.

A new revised Winter Schedule is now available in the Subscriber Section of our website.

It is planned that we will try and keep an accurate list of road closures that may affect the travel plans of our subscribers and would welcome any input from subscribers and/or organisations of new road closures and restrictions so we may maintain a current listing

We are proud to be providing essential support all over Australia and we will continue to do our best to serve our outback communities during this difficult time.

Kind regards
VKS-737 Radio Network

Road Closures and Restrictions.

Friday 8th May 2020

SA Caravan & Camping Restrictions

With effect from Monday 11th May 2020, Caravan and Camping is permitted in South Australia except in specifically restricted zones (refer 14th April 2020 listing).

It should also be noted that groups are limited to a maximum of 10 people at a time.

 

Tuesday 14th April 2020

Mintabie Road

Due to the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic, Mintabie Road is closed to general public. Authorised Personnel Only

SA Outback Roads – Road Closure Update

Arrabury Road

Birdsville Inside Track

Cordillo Downs Road – Arrabury turn off to SA/QLD Border

Birdsville Track – SA Border to Mungeranie

Innamincka – Nappa Merrie

Unless you are a Queensland resident or have an exemption you will not be able to enter Queensland. Please refer to the QLD Government website for more information on the exemptions and applying for an entry pass. www.qld.gov.au/about/newsroom/queensland-border-restrictions

Copley – Nepabunna

Due to the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic, Nepabunna Community (excluding Iga Warta) is a Designated Area under the Commonwealth Biosecurity Act 2015, and this restricts entry. Please do not stop in the Nepabunna Township, unless authorised under the Biosecurity Act 2015. Penalties apply enquiries to SA COVID-19 Information Line 1800 253 787 or Leigh Creek Police Station (08) 8675 2004.

Hamilton – Oodnadatta

Due to the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic, Dunjiba Community is a Designated Area under the Commonwealth Biosecurity Act 2015, and this restricts entry. Please do not enter the Dunjiba Community, unless authorised under the Biosecurity Act 2015. Penalties apply enquiries to SA COVID-19 Information Line 1800 253 787 or Oodnadatta Police Station (08) 8670 7805.

Nepabunna – Balcanoona

Due to the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic, Nepabunna Community (excluding Iga Warta) is a Designated Area under the Commonwealth Biosecurity Act 2015, and this restricts entry. Please do not stop in the Nepabunna Township, unless authorised under the Biosecurity Act 2015. Penalties apply enquiries to SA COVID-19 Information Line 1800 253 787 or Leigh Creek Police Station (08) 8675 2004.

Oodnadatta – Coober Pedy (Kempe Road)

Oodnadatta Track – Marla to Oodnadatta

Oodnadatta Track – Oodnadatta to William Creek

Due to the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic, Dunjiba Community is a Designated Area under the Commonwealth Biosecurity Act 2015, and this restricts entry. Please do not enter the Dunjiba Community, unless authorised under the Biosecurity Act 2015. Penalties apply enquiries to SA COVID-19 Information Line 1800 253 787 or Oodnadatta Police Station (08) 8670 7805

 

Wednesday 1st April 2020

Mintabie Road – APY Lands

The Mintabie Road is CLOSED due to the COVID 19 Virus

Strictly No Access to General Public into APY Lands, Authorised Personnel only

 

Friday 27th March 2020

South Australian National Parks

South Australia’s national parks are available for local people to visit their local park, as long as visitors follow all State and Federal Government COVID-19 guidelines.

Cleland Wildlife Park will also remain open, along with the Adelaide Botanic and Wittunga Botanic Gardens.

However all campgrounds in SA parks will close, along with DEW-managed hut and homestead accommodation.

Mount Lofty Botanic Gardens, Seal Bay, Naracoorte and Tantanoola Caves and Old Adelaide Gaol will close also in the interests of public health and safety.

Department for Environment and Water Chief Executive John Schutz said parks and gardens will remain open to local visitors as long as people comply with new social distancing and hygiene requirements.

“We are blessed with a huge network of walking and cycling trails in world-class parks, gardens and open spaces that are within easy reach of most people,” Mr Schutz said.

“For those who are well, and for those who are not required to self-isolate, there are plenty of beautiful natural places to visit.

“With so many public places now closed, it’s good to know there are still opportunities to connect with nature and de-stress in our open spaces.

“But it’s vital that we all follow social distancing guidelines, choose a park or garden near your home, keep a safe distance from others, and practice good hygiene.

“Regrettably we will be temporarily closing the Mount Lofty Botanic Gardens and selected DEW-managed commercial sites from COB today (Friday 27 March) in the interests of public health.

“For the same reason all campgrounds in SA parks and other DEW-managed accommodation will be closed and refunds will be provided for existing bookings.

“We will work with those visitors who are currently staying in our campgrounds to make arrangements for them to leave as soon as practical.

“We have also implemented changes at several of our visitor centres and other sites to comply with all relevant State and Federal government requirements.”

The latest information on SA parks and gardens is available here: www.parks.sa.gov.au and www.botanicgardens.sa.gov.au

Friday 27th March 2020

Queensland National park, forests and recreation areas: Important updates due to COVID 19

Applies until 30 June 2020.

This page provides updates and information related to national park, state forest and recreation area access, conditions and closures as a result of the coronavirus.

  • Restricted access to Fraser Island (K’gari), North Stradbroke Island (Minjerribah) and Daintree.
  • Camping area closures for all of Queensland

Restricted access to Fraser Island (K’gari), North Stradbroke Island (Minjerribah) and Daintree

Specific Access Restrictions under the State Disaster Declaration approved by the Premier and Minister for Fire and Emergency Services apply to North Stradbroke Island (Minjerribah), Fraser Island (K’gari), and the Douglas Local District Disaster Management Group is restricting access at the Daintree River Ferry.

These restrictions only permit access to community residents and those providing essential services only.

If you are in those areas, or planning to travel to these areas, please keep abreast of local information and updates specific to the location.

If you have a vehicle access permit for a Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service-managed recreation area in these places, you will be entitled to a full refund if your permit start date has not commenced and access has been restricted. There will be an option to receive a Gift Card for the unused portion of your monthly/annual permit that can be used when normal operations resume.

Camping closures – Queensland-wide

As part of the Queensland Governments response to COVID-19 (coronavirus) and to help keep Queenslanders safe, a decision has been made to close ALL camping areas within Queensland national parks, state forests and recreation areas as of 26 March 2020 until further notice.

Most four-wheel drive trails, mountain bike trails, walking tracks and trails (excluding overnight hiking tracks), bushwalks and national park coastal walks, remain open. However, all BBQ facilities in day use areas are closed.

Please check a particular park using Park Alerts for information on specific day use area or track closures.

People who are visiting these areas and taking part in recreation activities in national parks and other areas, should continue to follow Queensland Health advice about not travelling outside of their local area and restrictions on the size of public gatherings. Social distancing should be practiced at all times.

Camping permit refunds

Camping bookings with a start date up to, and including, 31 May 2020 are being cancelled.

People will be contacted directly about how to obtain a refund and you can also cancel your booking or request a refund via the Queensland National Parks Booking Service. Those who have purchased a weekly 4WD permit linked to a camping permit will be eligible for a full refund.

Bookings that commence after 31 May 2020 will remain valid at this time pending future advice. No new camping bookings are being accepted at this time.


Friday 27th March 2020

Western Australia – Regional Travel

The WA Premier has announced new restrictions on travel across the state which prevents the movement of people between different regions.

Key points:

  • The WA Premier has restricted movement between regions in WA
  • Fines of up to $50,000 could be issued if people ignore the rules
  • Exemptions exist for essential travel and on compassionate grounds

Travel between Western Australia’s regions will be restricted at midnight next Tuesday to halt the spread of COVID-19.

“Restrictions will be placed on travel within the entire state of Western Australia,” Premier Mark McGowan said.

The Premier said regional boundaries would mirror those of the state’s Regional Development Commissions.

WA has nine regions — the Kimberley, Pilbara, Gascoyne, Mid-West, Wheatbelt, Goldfields-Esperance, South West, Great Southern, and Perth and Peel regions.

Mr McGowan said the Peel and Perth regions would be combined into one region due to their close proximity.

He said police would have the power to enforce restrictions of movement and those breaking the new rules could face fines of up to $50,000.

“Our advice has been clear for days now: Avoid all non-essential travel around the state,” the Premier said.

“Do not travel around WA. Easter holiday plans cannot proceed.”

“Stay within your region to protect yourself and your fellow West Australians, particularly our older citizens.

“I am pleading with Western Australians to do the right thing, it is your civic duty.”

Mr McGowan said further detail about the restrictions would be released at a later date, including what exemptions would exist.

“West Australians will not be barred from leaving their regions for essential purposes,” Mr McGowan said.

“[This is] including but not limited to, travel for work purposes to deliver essential goods, for essential health and emergency services and other essential requirements.

“Exemptions on compassionate grounds will also be in place.”

WA Police Commissioner Chris Dawson said police would use every resource possible to enforce the restrictions, but help may be called in if necessary.

“We will be co-opting other people and that will include Defence if necessary and we’re working our way through that,” Commissioner Dawson said.

The Premier also announced today that gun shops and dealerships would be forced to close.


Thursday 26th March 2020

SA Emergency Management Act Non-Essential Business (and other gatherings) Closure Direction (No 2)

from the SA commissioner of Police listing full details of closures that apply in South Australia (similar restrictions apply in all states).  Read more.


Thursday 26th March 2020

NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service

Protecting the health and safety of our visitors and staff is the highest priority for the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS). We are following the directives and advice of the Australian and NSW Government health officials.

We have decided to close the following from 26 March 2020 until further notice in response to the COVID-19 emergency.

  • All campgrounds, in line with the Government Public Health Order
  • Most visitor centres, cafes, and high-visitation areas

Please check alerts for NSW national parks closures before planning your visit.

National parks and reserves are special environmental, cultural and recreational places for the people of NSW and they will remain open to the community. Visitors are encouraged to follow official restrictions and staff instructions for your own safety. Visit the NSW Health website for more information about COVID-19 in NSW and how to protect yourself and the community.

This is a rapidly changing situation. Please check this page regularly for updates.

What areas in National Parks remain open?

Although some of our national parks have been closed due to the recent bushfires and floods, many national parks remain open. Where possible, walking tracks and low-traffic open spaces will remain open for exercise.

However, in line with the Australian and NSW Government health officials, people are encouraged to limit their visit to open, natural areas near their homes. Please check alerts for closures in NSW national parks before planning your visit.

What restrictions apply in these areas?

Where parks remain open there is a:

  • limit of 500 people in a single, undivided outdoor space at the same time,
  • limit of 100 people and a requirement for 4 square metres per person (i.e. a 100 square metre space can accommodate a maximum of 25 people) in a single undivided indoor space at the same time.

Visitors should maintain a distance of 1.5 m between themselves and others while using walking tracks and other facilities.

Access to sanitation products and running water cannot be guaranteed. We recommend bringing hand soap, hand wipes and toilet paper with you to maintain good hygiene as advised by the NSW Government.

Can I pay park entry fees with cash?

Electronic payments are often the only option available in facilities already equipped with electronic payment systems. Please be prepared to pay with an appropriate payment card if park entry fees are required when you visit a NSW national park. Be prepared to pay in cash where this option is not available.

Will carparks remain open?

The closure of car parks will be decided on a case-by-case basis.

Will cabins, cottages and other accommodation remain open?

Most cabins, cottages and other accommodation (excluding campgrounds) that can be operated within the restrictions established by the Australian and NSW Government will remain open.

Visitors with a booking at an accommodation that remains open can contact NPWS for a cancellation and refund.

If you have any inquiries about bookings at an accommodation not managed by NPWS, please contact the operator directly.

 

Thursday 26th March 2020

Caravan Parks

Caravan Parks are classified as an ‘essential service’ and remain open.

The Prime Minister released a media statement providing more information on additional prohibited activities and venues to apply from 11.59pm (local time) 25 March 2020.

This includes statements that:

  • Residential facilities: hotels, hostels, bed and breakfasts, campsites, caravan pars, and boarding houses will be a decision for each state and territory.” Exceptions are “permanent residents and workers”.
  • Outdoor recreation: caravan and camping parks will be a decision for each state and territory

Exceptions are “where people live permanently in caravan parks or are staying in caravan parks as interim abodes where their primary residence is not available, they may continue to do so.” 

South Australia

In South Australia caravan parks remain open predominantly for travellers on route to home states, workers, people with no fixed abode and permanent residents in the park.

It is the decision of the park to remain open.

Victoria

The following facilities must close, except where the accommodation is for the purposes of respite, for victims of family violence, other vulnerable groups or for care purposes. This includes:

  • caravan and camping parks, except where people live there permanently or as an interim abode where the primary residence is not available.

 

Wednesday 25th March 2020

Queensland Campgrounds

Campgrounds close in response to COVID-19 outbreak

The Palaszczuk Government today announced the closure of all campgrounds in national parks, state forests and state managed recreation and protected areas, in response to the COVID-19 (corona virus) outbreak.

Minister for Environment and the Great Barrier Reef Leeanne Enoch said this decision is consistent with the expert medical advice of the state’s Chief Health Officer, with closures coming into effect from tomorrow.

“As the Easter school break approaches, closure of the campgrounds will help protect the health and safety of campers, the wider community as well as Queensland Park and Wildlife Service (QPWS) rangers and staff,” Minister Enoch said.

“The Premier has been very clear that Queenslanders should cancel their Easter break plans and stay close to home.

“The nature of the shared facilities in campgrounds, like toilets and showers, is a significant concern in the current circumstances.

“There are around 470 camping areas in Queensland’s parks and forests and QPWS rangers will immediately be contacting members of the public who are currently at camp sites, and those who have booked a site.

“This includes camping areas at K’gari (Fraser Island), Inskip Point, Cooloola Coast, Moreton Bay Islands, and all other national parks and forests across the state where camping is permitted. National parks in Cape York are already closed to the public.”

Day-use areas, tracks and trails will remain open at this stage and social distancing rules will still apply.

The closure of camping grounds does not include residential caravan parks.

Increased signage will be placed in high visitation areas throughout the State to keep the public informed of closures.

“The health of the community is our number one priority and minimising the spread of corona virus is imperative.” Minister Enoch said.

People who have camp sites booked will receive a full refund for unused camping permits.

For more information please go to www.des.qld.gov.au


Tuesday 24th March 2020

Queensland

Queensland will shut its borders from midnight on Wednesday in a desperate bid to limit the spread of coronavirus.

Anyone who does not meet the eligibility requirements will be forced to self-quarantine for 14 days whether they have symptoms or not.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk says they need to stop people travelling to and around Queensland unnecessarily, especially during the school holidays.

“Unless you are returning home to Queensland or you are coming to Queensland for an essential purpose like work or a medical appointment or freight issues, then the border is closed to you,” The Premier said on Tuesday.

“This is for your own public health.

“We don’t want people from New South Wales and Victoria coming up here to Queensland, and where as far as possible, they should be staying in their suburbs and as much as possible, staying at home.

State Disaster Coordinator Steve Gollschewski says they are still working through the finer details, and more information would be provided to those who will be impacted.

But he warned people to expect to see Police checks at the borders and for people to be grilled about what they’re doing.

“All non-essential travel should be cancelled or postponed as a result immediately,” Deputy Commissioner Gollschewski said.

“Don’t come to Queensland unless you have an essential purpose.”

Deputy Commissioner Gollschewski admits it will be an inconvenience for many, but urged people to comply.

“Socialising is out. Going to the cafe in Queensland instead of the one in Tweed Heads, that’s not the sort of thing that people should be doing.”

Officials are still working on the practical measures of checking people at the border and are looking at a range of measures to ensure people can get through quickly.

This may involve stickers on people’s cars to allow Police to quickly identify those able to cross the border safely.

“If you’re a Queenslander coming back into Queensland, there’s not going to be any issues for you, you’ll be allowed to come back in, and obviously they may be driving a Queensland registered car with a Queensland address, that’s the sort of thing we’re talking about.”

It’s still not entirely clear how this will impact Gold Coast Airport which straddles the border.

“We’re working through that at the moment.

“Police and other officials will be at the airport questioning that will meet people as they come off the airlines and they’ll be obviously questioning about why are they returning Queensland, are they a resident where have they been.”


Monday 23rd March 2020

Northern Territory – Aboriginal Communities

Travel restrictions

Remote communities in the Northern Territory are now only open to essential travel in response to concerns about the spread of COVID-19.

Essential travel in this case is defined as only the functions that are necessary to keep the community operating. For example, the work of doctors, nurses, teachers, police officers and council workers is essential. Deliveries to remote communities by barge, road or air are also considered essential services.

Existing permits for remote travel

Land Councils say that all existing permits to Aboriginal communities for non-essential travel are suspended and no new permits will be granted until further notice. People who provide essential services to the community, including doctors, nurses, teachers, police officers and council workers will not be affected by the ban.

Remote travel hotline

Queries on whether travel to the Territory’s remote communities should be directed to the NT Government remote travel hotline on 1800 518 189. If they cannot respond to your query immediately, they will follow it up and get back to you.

Some access requests are being considered case by case or community by community basis.


Sunday 22nd March 2020

Cape York

Travel into Cape York has now been restricted by the Queensland Government effectively stopping any non-essential travel into the Cape.

The Cook Shire Council has closed off non-essential travel into the Cape York Peninsula.

The statement from the Cook Shire Council said, “Council’s Mayor and CEO have been advised this morning that from 5pm today (Sunday 22 March 2020) the State Government is implementing restricted access to the Cape.

“Police will be stationed at various access points to the Shire, in particular on the Mulligan Highway potentially near Mt Carbine or Lakeland to advise on travel restrictions on all non-essential travel to Cape York and Torres Strait. There are currently no restrictions on travel between any communities within Wujal Wujal, Hope Vale and Cook shires,” it said.

“At this stage Council has no further information, but will continue to be in communication with the State Government agencies and other Councils throughout today and the next few days to develop appropriate procedures.

The implementation is under the control of the State Government and key messaging will be coming from the State.”

The Cook Shire covers an area from Bloomfield on the east coast across to Lakelands and to Weipa in the west and north to the Northern Peninsula Area. This effectively closes off the Mulligan Highway, with the Queensland Government to station police officers  at either Lakeland or Mount Carbine to advise travellers of the restrictions on non-essential travel. This comes after the Northern Peninsula Area Regional Council closed off travel north of the Jardine River last week.

As you can imagine, this situation is fluid and changing with health-related information being received by the Queensland Government. We will continue to keep you updated as more information comes to hand. No timeframe has been put on travel to Cape York being restricted, however, after the press conference today, led by Scott Morrison, he has stated that “…non-essential travel should be avoided and particularly when we’re talking about interstate travel and longer distances, the sort of travel that would not be normally part of your normal life”.


Sunday 22nd March 2020

Western Australia

The WA Government has announced it will close its borders from 13:30 (AWST) on Tuesday 24th March 2020, although exemptions will apply for essential services and workers.

Interstate arrivals will be required to self-isolate for 14 days, and the border controls will apply to all road, air, rail and sea access points.

“These are extreme steps, but these are extreme days … we all need to step up and play our part in one of the greatest crises facing our state in its history,” WA Premier Mark McGowan said.

“WA is now in a war, the type of war we have never seen before.”

‘There will only be exceptions for essential travel’

WA Police Commissioner Stephen Dawson said those travelling by road would need to be across the border by the time the new measures come into force.

“If you are not able to make it before then — and we want people to travel very safely and very calmly — then you either do not leave, you stay where you are,” he said.

“If you are intending to come over, we will be putting in measures which may require you to stay for 14 days at that location.

“We will be very clear about this. There will only be exceptions for essential travel.”

 

Sunday 22nd March 2020

South Australia

The SA Government declared a “major emergency” and announced it will establish 12 border crossings where travellers will be required to sign a declaration about their health and ability to undertake mandatory self-isolation for two weeks.

Those measures will come into effect from 16:00 on Tuesday 24th March 2020.

People who live in border communities they would still be allowed to cross into South Australia if there were no coronavirus outbreaks in those towns.

The Government will allow exemptions from the new restrictions for what it labels “essential transport”.

That includes the transport of health and medical supplies, health personnel and patients, food and commercial supply chains, health workers, travel of a relative or caregiver of a dependant person, and emergency services.

Fly-in-fly-out workers in the mining industry or national level sporting teams could also be exempt, but only if they had “approved disease control mechanisms in place”.

SA Police Commissioner Grant Stevens will also be brought on-board as the state coordinator and will “assume all major responsibilities under the Emergency Management Act”.

The declaration of a “major emergency” in South Australia supersedes the previous public health emergency.

SA Police have been checking on those who have already been ordered to self-isolate after disembarking international flights.


Sunday 22nd March 2020

ACT, NSW & Victoria

The Governments of New South Wales, Victoria and the ACT will proceed to a more comprehensive shut down of non-essential services over the next 48 hours in an attempt to slow the spread of coronavirus.

Key points:

  • The shut downs in Victoria and NSW will not effect supermarkets, pharmacies and banks
  • Victoria will bring forward school holidays to begin on Tuesday
  • The Government will also consider locking down COVID-19 “red zones”, as has been done in Wuhan and parts of Europe

Supermarkets, petrol stations, pharmacies, convenience stores, freight and logistics, and home delivery will be among the many services that will remain open.


Saturday 21st March 2020

Northern Territory

The Northern Territory will introduce strict border controls from 4:00pm on March 24 that mean anyone arriving from interstate or overseas will have to self-isolate for 14 days.

Key Points:

  • Restrictions will not halt the delivery of essential goods and services
  • There are some exemptions, including health services and police
  • The measures are likely to remain in place for six months

Chief Minister Michael Gunner announced the new restrictions today.

“I’ve seen what’s happening overseas, I’ve seen what’s happening down south and I’m not going to let that happen here,” he said.

“The Territory comes first.”

Mr Gunner said there would be exemptions to the self-isolation requirement, including health and emergency services, defence and policing, flight crews and freight — with strict guidelines in place to monitor and manage the new laws.

“Arrivals will have to show they meet the essential arrival criteria to be granted an exemption,” he said.

“There will also be exemptions granted on compassionate grounds.

“We will be consulting with essential resources industries to make sure their workforce requirements can be met, while guaranteeing community safety for this period.”

More information would be provided in the coming days about exemptions, the process for applying, as well the processes that will be implemented at our borders.

NT Police Commissioner Jamie Chalker urged tourists heading to the NT to revaluate their plans.

“We ask for cooperation — if you have no necessity to be in the Territory, please reconsider your plans,” he said.

Commissioner Chalker said NT Police and the Territory Government were likely to keep the tough measures in place until September.

“We are working for this to be in place for about six months,” he said.

How will it work?

Mr Gunner said anyone arriving in the Northern Territory would have to declare at the point of entry that they would isolate for 14 days and let the authorities know where they would be for this period.

“We will have police checkpoints at the border to enforce this requirement,” he said.

“We will also have signs on our major roads leading into the Territory so arrivals know exactly what will be required if they enter the Territory.

“And if you can’t meet those requirements, then turn around and go home.”

Mr Gunner said it was an “unprecedented” action for the NT, but the health of Territorians came first.

“As of Tuesday, I am saying to the rest of the country: ‘Sorry, but if you’re also not willing to do whatever it takes, then sorry we are shut’,” he said.

“Right now, the Territory is probably the safest place in Australia and we intend to keep in that way.”


Thursday 19th March  2020

Maralinga Tjarutja (MT) and Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara (APY)

Good Afternoon,

The Maralinga Tjarutja (MT) and Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara (APY) traditional owners have advised the Department of Defence that there are travel restrictions in place within their lands to protect the health of their people during the current COVID-19 pandemic.

Defence is acutely aware of the implications of this virus reaching the remote communities on the MT and APY Lands and the impact it would have on vulnerable people living there.

We need to be vigilant in order to protect these communities from major health problems caused by the virus.

Both MT and APY require permits to enter their lands, parts of which are within the Woomera Prohibited Area, therefore, as of Monday 16th March 2020, all non-essential travel to Maralinga Tjarutja Lands will not be approved.

All current permits traversing Maralinga lands are hereby cancelled until further notice.

Thank you for your understanding.

Trevor Seebohm
Access, Administration & Compliance Officer
WPA Non-Defence Access Management Team
Woomera Test Range
Air Force Ranges Directorate
Air Warfare Centre


Tuesday 17th March 2020

Martu Ngurra

Closure of Martu Ngurra to all non-essential or approved people.

The Board of Directors of the Western Desert Lands Aboriginal Corporation (WDLAC) is taking action to help protect Martu and other people living in communities on Martu Ngurra and in Martu-majority communities across the Pilbara.

The WA Government has declared a State of Emergency and a public health emergency as a result of the spread of Coronavirus (COVID-19).

Puntukurnu Aboriginal Medical Service (PAMS) has advised that Martu people, and especially the treasured Elders of the Martu community, must take urgent action to protect themselves from this health emergency. This includes ‘social isolation’. WDLAC is working with State and Local Government agencies, and other Martu organisations, to assist Martu people to stay healthy.

WDLAC is exercising the native title rights it holds on behalf of Martu people.

Martu native title rights are ‘exclusive possession’ rights, a legal right to possess, occupy, use and enjoy the land and waters of the determination area. Martu rights are specifically set out in law, and include the right to:

  • live on Martu traditional lands
  • make decisions about the use and enjoyment of their traditional lands
  • control other people’s access to and activities on traditional lands and waters

Martu are the traditional owners of their lands and hold these rights as against all other people.

WDLAC is exercising those rights and has determined that, as of 17 March 2020:

  1. only Martu traditional owners and their families, employees of approved Martu companies and officers of a Government agency exercising lawful rights of access or service, are permitted to travel anywhere on Martu lands, whether on a road or track or across country
  2. no other person may travel to any place on Martu country, without the written permission of WDLAC
  3. no other person may travel to any on-country communities, without the written permission of WDLAC and the community offices in Parnngurr, Punmu and Kunawarritji
  4. all permits shall require the person, Government agency or company, to comply with the specific provisions required by the permit, including but not only, the setting out of the details of the personnel travelling on country, where the people propose to travel from/to, how long the people will be on country and the purpose for the travel/visit
  5. the Canning Stock Route, the Talawana Track east of the Balfour Downs station entry, Telfer Road east of the Woodie Woodie Road, and Kiwirrkurra Road east of Kunawarritji (Well 33), are closed to all travellers, other than those holding a permit issued by WDLAC after 17 March 2020, or operating within the terms of a pre-existing agreement with WDLAC
  6. the Nyungumarta Highway south of the Rio ‘Winu’ project is closed to all travellers, other than those holding a permit issued by WDLAC after 17 March 2020, or operating within the terms of a pre-existing agreement with WDLAC

Any person requiring a permit, or asserting that they do not require a permit because of an existing permit or lawful reason or other right of access, should write to WDLAC setting out the basis for their request or asserted right (by letter to the attention of the CEO, WDLAC Level 3, 130 Royal St, East Perth WA 6004 or by email to: admin@wdlac.com.au)

This order is made by the Board of Directors of the Western Desert Lands Aboriginal Corporation on 17 March 2020 and remains in place until revoked by the Corporation or by a law of the State or Commonwealth.

A breach of this order is trespass and will be prosecuted.

Melvin Farmer      Chairperson

Tony McRae         Chief Executive Officer


Sunday 15th March 2020

Simpson Desert

The desert is officially open (on 15th March) but rain has interrupted the opening. Birdsville has had significant rain and there is a lot of standing water over that side.

Parks Queensland has closed their end from Birdsville to Poeppel Corner due to ponded water over the road in places. They will assess again on 3rd April.

Birdsville police say the water is slowly drying up and should be OK soon. There could be water coming down Eyre Creek, but it won’t close the desert as the bypass should be passable.

It is still possible to enter the Simpson from Mt Dare side and do a bit of exploring and come out the same way or do a loop around some of the tracks.

Keep an eye on the Parks Queensland website for up to date info. The desert will look fantastic with the rain it has had over the summer and will be well worth a visit.

This information from Mt Dare Hotel.