Tasmanian premier Will Hodgman has announced that ‘Tasmania’s wild West Coast has been chosen as the preferred location for our Next Iconic Walk’.

The area selected is the remote and wild Tyndall Range. This ‘iconic walk’ will be similar to the Overland and Three Capes Tracks, where private hut networks have been built. The Range is known for its rock climbing on conglomerate cliffs up to 300m in height, glacial lakes and alpine areas and ‘out of the way’ nature.

The government says “A signature Liberal election commitment, up to $20 million will be invested to deliver our next iconic multi-day, hut-based walk which will enhance the visitor economy throughout the entire region”. According to the proponent, the proposal includes the option of “a private walking company .. investing in the development of private lodges similar to that of Three Capes Track”.

The government says:

“Following a public submissions process, the West Coast Tourism Association’s ‘The Philosopher’s Tale’ concept has been chosen as the preferred location for the Next Iconic Walk. The proposal provides an opportunity to showcase the rugged and spectacular Tyndall Ranges, with its unique geology and mineralisation, which lie between Queenstown and Tullah.

Importantly, the concept pays homage to the pioneering spirit of the West Coast and the expeditions of James “Philosopher” Smith, sharing our unique story of 150 years of prospecting and mining, all while delivering a new perspective of Tasmania’s wild West Coast.

It is testament to our multi-use reserve principles where our mining heritage and rugged outdoors are celebrated, without compromise, in a truly Tasmanian adventure.

The Government will now undertake market testing and a detailed feasibility study, informed by consultation with the public, which will guide the walk’s route and design of facilities”.

The proponent of the walk says the proposal “is made up of a series of iconic walks to be developed over a period of time.

The Tyndall Ranges, photo by Jarrah Tree.

“The area is naturally divided into four zones, or in story telling parlance, ‘Chapters’. The Chapters, let’s call them Owen, Jukes, Lyell and Tyndall lead easily to the staged construction of any proposed track works. Similar to the Three Capes, the Owen Chapter is the focus of the current proposal for the “Next Iconic Walk” to be completed within 3 years and used whilst the other Chapters are under investigation/construction or awaiting funding. All the Chapters are of comparable size and would lend themselves to multiple overnight stays.”

Tyndall walk map
The ‘four chapters’ of the walk.

“Based on our research and investigation, the area proposed for Chapter One (the focus of this proposal) is Crown Land, administered by Crown Land Services, Forestry Tasmania or Parks & Wildlife. It is not in the World Heritage Zone.”

Although the proposal is for large numbers of walkers,

“Walkers would be scheduled to depart at specific times via shuttle drop off at Horsetail Falls. Staggering start times prevents the walk from appearing crowded and provides a sense of being one with nature, at the walker’s own pace”.

There will be self guided and fully catered options attached to the walk:

“This walk would target similar markets to the Overland Track, Three Capes Walk, Bay of Fires, Maria Island walks, but with differentiating factors that will appeal:

  • To those who do not wish to spend more than two nights away from town
  • Families with children, the shorter journeys combined with the story aspects will prove appealing
  • To those who either have completed the other walks or who are looking for an easier entry option
  • To those who are looking for a fully catered premium product where they carry just a day pack

While the track construction itself would involved the development of campsites, the proponent says “given the uniqueness of the walk we believe that a private walking company would be interested in investing in the development of private lodges similar to that of Three Capes Track and undertaking guided walks over the track”.

The Bob Brown Foundation (BBF) opposes the plan, and says:

‘Because the Tyndalls are such a fragile mountain wilderness, we do not support this plan and we are already getting messages of despair from wilderness lovers who have cared for the Tyndalls for years.

‘Totally missing from the council-strategised announcement, attended by Premier Will Hodgman, is the National Park and World Heritage nomination this range should have had 30 years ago. When the Greens and Wilderness Society pushed extremely hard to include the Tyndalls wilderness in the 1989 extension of the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area, then Premier Field refused because of mining industry objections.

The passing of the last 30 years has simply transferred control from the miners to the tourism developers.’

The Wilderness Society (TWS) Tasmania has announced its support for an alternative to the government’s proposed Tyndall Ranges walk put forward by the Bob Brown Foundation (BBF).

The alternative route proposed by the Bob Brown Foundation would avoid the higher, alpine sections of the Tyndall Range.

TWS spokesperson Tom Allen said “Bob Brown is right. The alternative walk proposed is superior to the Government’s ‘next iconic walk’ because it would avoid impacting the hyper-sensitive alpine vegetation and ecosystem that the Government walk would cut through.”

“The Bob Brown walk would still be stunning, scenic and lake-speckled but provides a preferable, more sustainable, lower-impact alternative. Any philosopher worth their salt would prefer to walk this route instead. If you’re after a real west coast win-win, this is it,” said Mr Allen.

The BBF proposal would avoid high elevation alpine areas, traversing around the Tyndall Plateau. They say “the Foundation route improves the experience for walkers by taking them beneath the Tyndall plateau and through beautiful lake country while (being) protected by the magnificent range backdrop from the prevailing west and northwesterly rain and snow-bearing winds”.

“The Tyndalls plateau is very fragile, never burnt alpine country and will suffer much more from thousands of visitors walking over it and going off-track each year. The eastern alternative is more robust and more prospective to lodges if these must be built there”.