Two weeks after our Open Days started this year, various areas of the Blue Mountains started suffering from the most intense bushfires seen up here for many years. Parts of Springwood, Winmalee and Yellow Rock, further down the mountains, have had losses of about 200 homes, while a very large fire just north and east of Lithgow has burnt out nearly 50,000 hectares of bush, burnt down 3 homes and has been threatening settlements down the Bells Line of Road as far as Bilpin. In addition, a fire at Mt Victoria which caused the loss of 6 homes has only been stopped from moving down to Blackheath by the efforts of the firies – with an audacious backburn along fire trails linking the two villages, and a controlled burn along the Darling Causeway which linked the Lithgow and Mt Victoria fires and stopped them possibly joining up with the Springwood fire.
Because of all these problems, it was decided to close the Rhododendron Gardens from last Tuesday 22nd October – in the interests of public and visitor safety – at least until Friday 25th. However, the date of reopening will only be determined when we can be assured that there will be no further threat to Blackheath, the Gardens, and our visitors.
We hope that you will understand why we have taken this action and also hope that you will come back when all is safe – and continue to support us in future.
As an aside – two years ago the Gardens had to be closed for a couple of months following a night of 170 km per hour winds in July that brought down 200 trees and many branches; last year we closed for a day in October following 15 cm of snow; this year we had to close because of bushfires; next year, a flood??? Oh, the joys of living in Blackheath in the beautiful Blue Mountains!