In 2021 The MVA put forward a grant proposal to seek funding through the Black Summer Bushfire Grants to improve signage within the Valley. This was identified as a key requirement in our Connected and Prepared project and the Community Emergency Response Plan (CERP) .
After discussions with Hawkesbury City Council, Council generously agreed to prepare the grant application themselves on our behalf, taking on board all of our community suggestions for signage improvements in the valley.
Council was successful in the grant application and we look forward to working with them in 2022 and 2023 to deliver this project.
The Macdonald Valley is isolated and geographically disparate. It is a popular destination for tourists and many people choose to drive through the Macdonald Valley when travelling to the Hunter and Central Coast regions.
Local road signs and markers have deteriorated over time and in the recent bushfires and flooding events many were damaged or destroyed. There are also a number of roads and tracks that are not clearly marked or even identifiable as public roads. Many properties are only accessible via unmade or non-existent driveways across paddocks, the St Albans Common or through creeks.
The lack of adequate signage is a problem for people seeking directions when travelling into the area and also for emergency services needing to access properties during floods, fires and for other urgent situations. This was a major problem for emergency services, particularly during the 2019/2020 bushfires where out-of-area crews were assisting. There is no mobile reception in most of the valley so the use of ‘google maps” is not possible. This combined with poor or lack of radio communication, often made it impossible to find a property without local knowledge and guidance. Out-of-area crews could not be used in the northern extremities of Higher MacDonald for example, as even the location of ‘main’ road and dry river crossings are only known to locals.
The MVA asked Council to consider the following in their grant application:
- Directional Signage
This would be to supply and install signs at specific locations identifying road intersections ahead including access routes to remote communities. This will not only assist emergency services to locate properties during major fire and flood events for St Albans and surrounds, but also help visitors, couriers and other services with directions to properties in the Valley.
- Naming of Bridges
A number of bridges crossing the Macdonald River, particularly along Upper Macdonald Road are unnamed. Again placing signs at these landmarks will help with directions for those who are not local.
- New flood markers at known flood points throughout the valley
There are a number of flood markers requiring replacement. Many are worn and not readable. The lack of adequate signage for river flood levels was a concerning issue for residents and SES workers during the 2021 floods.
- Indigenous history identification signs
The history, culture and spirituality of aboriginal traditional owners is evident in many parts of the Hawkesbury and along the Macdonald River. A recent mapping project of the Hawkesbury River has identified a number of significant place names and sites of importance for aboriginal people. The MVA would like Council to support signage that identifies these aboriginal place names and that also refers to relevant historical settler information.
- Repair and removal of broken signs
Many road signs are deteriorated or broken. These need to be repaired or removed and replaced. A number were damaged during the 2019/2020 bushfires and are still to be fixed.
- Individual street number signs
In developing a CERP plan for the Macdonald Valley, the MVA is concerned about the lack of adequate identification of properties. Many properties do not have clear numbers and names to identify the property and property entrances are not visible from the road or cannot be seen at night. This is an issue of safety especially for emergency services accessing properties in a timely way. While we understand that this signage is the responsibility of property owners, we are requesting the Council consider ways to provide properties with standardised numbering that can be more clearly displayed.
We look forward to working with Codicil in the implementation of this project. It will contribute to the well-being of the Macdonald Valley community and improve the ability of emergency workers, locals and tourists to drive safely in the Valley.