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  5. Natural Disaster Declarations - Road Network

Natural Disaster Declarations - Road Network


In November and December 2021, the Warrumbungle Local Government Area (LGA), along with many other areas, experienced significant rainfall. In Coonabarabran 254mm of rain fell in November 2021, which is above the 95th percentile and not far off the highest recorded rainfall of 316mm in 2000.

The intensity of the rainfall coupled with above average rainfall in the preceding months, resulted in extensive damage to Council’s road network.

A natural disaster was declared and Council’s crews worked hard to carry out just under $1 million worth of emergency and immediate restoration works as part of our immediate response.

In terms of the NSW Natural Disaster Essential Public Asset Restoration Guidelines, funding for councils is provided on the basis of actual expenditure for emergency works and immediate restoration works subject to eligibility, assessment of reasonability and co-funding arrangements.

For Essential Public Assets Reconstruction works, councils are offered a Total Upper Limit Grant amount, based on the estimated reconstruction cost, less the council co-funding amount and any ineligible costs.

A specialist consultant was engaged to assess the condition of our network and submit applications for Essential Public Assets Reconstruction funding.

In order to make application for funding, Council’s entire regional and rural road network of 2,370km had to be inspected, photographs taken of the damage, assessments made of the restoration work required and estimate of costs.

This process took several months to complete.

Over 1,770 defects have been identified with the value of the restoration work estimated to be over $12 million. Restoration works including grading 440km of unsealed roads, pavement and surface repair of 500km of sealed roads, bulk filling of gravel and rock at 43 locations, reshaping of 6.5km of table drains and repair of 12 major causeways, culverts and bridges.

Council’s previous largest application for natural disaster funding was in 2016, in the amount of $643,477.

Council has submitted nine (9) works packages to the value of $12,767,871.13 for the restoration works. The emergent works claim for approximately $900,000 is currently being prepared.

As of 20 October 2022, of the nine (9) work packages submitted, three packages (3) in the amount of $1,322,510 have been approved and works have commenced. Werribee Road and Saltwater Creek Road have been repaired.


Estimated Cost




Upper Limit Approved by TfNSW. Approved 06/07/2022



Submitted to TfNSW



Submitted to TfNSW



Submitted to TfNSW



Submitted to TfNSW



Submitted to TfNSW



Submitted to TfNSW



Submitted to TfNSW



Submitted to TfNSW

Emergent Works


Submission currently being prepared




* Note – The estimated cost may change as Transport for NSW assesses each defect in the submitted packages and sets upper limit for the restoration works.

Details of the estimated restoration cost per road are included in Attachment 1.

Council submitted an assessment for a natural declaration of the 4 August 2022 event, which was has been accepted. A further assessment for a natural declaration of the 21 and 22 September wet weather event is being submitted.

For any subsequent events, Natural Disaster Declarations will be sought as appropriate.



Since the storms in November / December 2021 that caused significant damage, there have been subsequent rain events that have caused further damage to the road network. Under the funding guidelines, Council staff are unable to carry out immediate restoration works until funding has been approved by the State Government.  

There is understandably growing frustration in the community that damaged roads have not yet been repaired other than for emergency works.

The countryside and roads of the Warrumbungle Shire are highly saturated, which is also limiting the works that can be done because heavy plant runs the risk of becoming bogged and creating more damage through wheel rutting.

The saturated nature of the ground means that even moderate rain events such as 20-40mm of rainfall results in flooding and road closures.

There is also the expectation that when we do have sunny days that Council staff will immediately carry out repairs but, for the reasons stated above (funding not yet approved and saturated ground) significant repairs will not be possible for some time.

Council will manage these community expectations through regular media releases, social media updates and by providing up to date information on Council’s website on programmed works and timeframes.

The long-range weather forecast with lower than average temperatures and higher than average rainfall will not create ideal conditions for road repairs.

Assuming that our funding application will be successful, carrying out $12 million worth of repairs in a timely manner will be challenging.

Council’s roads budget is in the order of $6 million with a further $6 million worth of capital works. While some works may be postponed, it will still be a big task for Council staff to complete the flood restoration works.

Works approved under the November 2021 Declaration must be completed by 30 June 2024.

To complete these works, Council will be using a number of resourcing methods including staff working additional hours and engaging contractors. It may be challenging to find available contractors. Our neighbouring councils will also have flood restoration works to carry out and will also be seeking contractors.

There are also other significant projects such as Inland Rail and those in the Renewable Energy Zone that will require local contractors as well.

It is important that the restoration works are carried out in an efficient and prioritised manner.

For the restoration of roads under the Natural Disaster Declarations, the following prioritisation is to be followed as per Council’s adopted Roads Asset Management Plan (AMP) (page 10)





Regional Road

These are major arterial roads that provide highest traffic movements between regions, industrial, commercial and residential areas and are also declared as Regional Roads with a funding contribution by RMS


Local Arterial Road

These are major local arterial roads that provide linkage between areas of industrial, commercial, and residential importance and the regional road network. They also provide for traffic movements between areas and regions. In town these roads would generally include the CBD area of town.


Local Distributor Road

These roads provide connections between arterial parts of the network and the local collector network. They generally have key traffic generators on them for an area and/or are strategically important.


Local Collector Road

These roads provide access to the distributor/arterial network from local access roads. In an urban setting, these are the local town streets that feed traffic into residential roads, and individual major facilities. These roads generally do not have key traffic generators on them.


Local Access Road

These roads provide access to individual properties in a rural setting. In an urban setting, these are local town streets that provide access to individual properties.


Un-Formed Local

These are unformed roads (tracks) and are not maintained by Council.


It should be noted that these roads are not eligible for Natural Disaster funding and therefore not applicable in the prioritisation process.


It is proposed to start on the Category 1 Regional Roads first and these would be Black Stump Way, Vinegaroy Road, Warrumbungles Way, Baradine Road, Forest Road, Purlewaugh Road and Timor Road.

These roads carry the most traffic and any repairs will benefit more motorists. Also, our ability to work on the sealed network is less likely to be impacted by saturated ground conditions and weather than unsealed roads.

It makes sense to work in geographic locations, so it is proposed to work on any Category 2 Local Arterial Roads and Category 3 Local Distributor Roads in the vicinity of the Category 1 Roads at the same time, where possible. Moving plant, equipment and staff from site to site is expensive and time consuming, so if we can reduce this movement it will be more cost effective to work in this way.

As the restoration works are extensive and contractors will be required to assist with delivery it also makes sense to release tenders for packages of work. This will be done based on geographical areas, generally the unsealed road network.

This approach will have to be tempered by the practicalities of the weather and local ground conditions – it may be too wet to do some repairs on some roads and of course we may get further rain. We will also need to consider other planned works in the vicinity of the flood restoration works such as re-sheeting or rehabilitation works. Again, it would make sense to carry out these works at the same time to avoid additional establishment costs.

Until the funding is confirmed, Council is required to carry out repair works after each rain event. If a natural disaster is not declared for those events, those repair works will be at Council’s cost.

Council will continue to apply for Natural Disaster Declarations for subsequent rain events.




  1. November 2021 Natural Disaster – Estimated Restoration Cost.



Media Releases 

9 February 2023 - Funding Announced for Road Repairs 

5 January 2023 - Country Mayors Assocation - $280 Million State Roads Restoration Package

21 October 2022 - Council Natural Disaster Road Restoration Priorities 

13 October 2022 - Another Major Flooding Event Declared Natural Disaster Event 

5 October 2022 - Recent Flooding Declared Natural Disaster Event 

19 September 2022 - Natural Disaster Roads Update - September 2022

10 March 2022 - Natural Disaster Recovery 

24 November 2021 - Warrumbungle Road Network - Affected by high intensity rainfall

Last Updated: 10 Feb 2023