Unsafe conditions means Eyre Highway to remain closed

STRANDED: Kalgoorlie's Barry and Warren Cluning are among those affected by the closure of Eyre Highway. The pair have been in Ceduna for more than a week. Picture: Luca Cetta
STRANDED: Kalgoorlie's Barry and Warren Cluning are among those affected by the closure of Eyre Highway. The pair have been in Ceduna for more than a week. Picture: Luca Cetta

The closure of Eyre Highway at the South Australia/Western Australian border due to bushfires in WA has left hundreds of people stranded on either side of the border with no end in sight to the closure.

Authorities had hoped to reopen the highway on Thursday, but due to the Balladonia fire breaking containment lines on Wednesday that did not occur.

WA's Department for Fire and Emergency Services said in a statement that once the fire is contained the situation will be reassessed.

"Roads will only be opened if it is safe to do so," the statement read.

"A road reopening during and after a bushfire is rarely as simple as ensuring the fire is extinguished and then allowing travellers through.

"This is a dynamic situation, and it is important to note that these plans are subject to change with variable weather conditions and fire activity currently being experienced as ex-Tropical Cyclone Blake moves through the area."

The statement said thorough safety checks and constant evaluation of conditions would determine whether a road could be reopened.

It has meant people have taken up accommodation in towns and roadhouses dotted along the highway and nearby, including at Ceduna where Visitor Information Centre staff said there had been a "definite spike" in the number of Western Australians in town.

"The people are very lovely and understanding of the situation," Bron Rice said.

Among those affected by the closure are Kalgoorlie's Barry, Rhonda and Warren Cluning.

The family had visited Victoria for Christmas and were making their way back home when they arrived in Ceduna, planning to spend two days in town.

That has extended to nine days and forced Warren to take time off work, however he said his boss was understanding of the situation.

The family are hoping to get back home soon, but said they have enjoyed their time in Ceduna.

"It is getting a bit expensive to go into our savings now," Mr Cluning said.

"We want to get home - we have a friend looking after the house for us, and we were planning to leave on Friday if the road reopened, but we'll be here for a little longer.

"And we haven't had any luck here while fishing."

HIGHWAY CRICKET: Travellers stranded by the highway closure make the most of an empty road to play a game of cricket. Picture: Supplied

HIGHWAY CRICKET: Travellers stranded by the highway closure make the most of an empty road to play a game of cricket. Picture: Supplied

Mrs Cluning said the silver lining was Ceduna was "not the worst place to be stuck".

Ceduna mayor Perry Will said people were making the most of their extended stay.

"Most people have accepted that this has happened and have made alternative arrangements," he said.

"I know quite a number have driven back to Adelaide, put cars on a truck and have flown to Perth, if they have to get to work.

"Some have stayed in the region, they've gone to places like Streaky Bay and all the way down to Coffin Bay."

Mr Will said there was still accommodation available throughout Ceduna and no issues with food supplies.

BARBECUE

Centacare Ceduna said it would be hosting a free community barbecue on Friday for those waiting to head back to WA.

The barbecue will take place at 11am outside the Ceduna Sailing Club, changed from its original location due to the weather.

COUNCIL CONTACT

The Member for Kalgoorlie has contacted the Streaky Bay District Council to advise he is coordinating information for the state between those stranded by the fires and the Western Australian Department of Fire and Emergency Services.

He is also working closely with the Western Australia Department of Community for advice and assistance as the situation continues.

The council is asking anybody who is a WA resident and currently unable to return, and staying in the Streaky Bay district to contact the council to register your details.

These details will then be provided to the Member for Kalgoorlie to circulate relevant information as it becomes available.

To register, call the Streaky Bay Visitor Centre on 8626 7033 or the council office on 8626 1001. You can also email info@streakybay.sa.gov.au.

View the road closure map for WA at https://mrw-aue-tvlmp-appsrv-prd.azurewebsites.net/.