As the long campaign to protect World Heritage Areas from commercial development continues (and in the aftermath of the Federal Court case against the planned ‘helicopter tourism’ development proposed for Lake Malbena on Tasmania’s Central Plateau), a trip has now been planned to visit the site threatened by this proposal.

The Fishers and Walkers Against Helicopter Access Tasmania and the Wilderness Society have organised the camp, which will happen over the weekend of December 7 and 8.

Updated information, 30/11/2019

As a result of unprecedented pressure from a government agency – the Tasmanian Parks and Wildlife Service – the Reclaim Malbena event will need to be modified. Following contradictory advice form that agency’s officers, we have received legal advice that we can run the event as follows:
Members of the public and media are invited to attend a public morning tea, picnic and rally at the trawtha mukaminya (Gowan Brae) boom gate. The culmination of this rally will see 8 bushwalkers depart for Lake Malbena where they will stage a symbolic reclamation of Halls Island and the wilderness of Lake Malbena.

Remember, the Hodgman Liberal government gifted Halls Island to a developer without public notification or any assessment process, and once development approvals have been finalised public access will be excluded from the island for decades to come. More than ever before, we need your attendance at this rally.

The alteration of the Reclaim Malbena event has come about due to threats from the Parks and Wildlife Service to impose draconian conditions on our original action. We had planned to have a picnic at Olive Lagoon and then have 16 experienced bushwalkers and wilderness guides rally on the Lake Malbena shoreline. All these people have great respect for the landscape and were to enter the area firmly guided by the principles of ‘leave no trace’. The issue was discussed at a federal level, and we were notified that we might have to have the event assesed as a ‘controlled action’ under the EPBC Act, which would take months to process. In short, we are being locked out.

It’s worth noting that the proponent for Malbena development was never required to undertake a ‘controlled action’ assessment. His proposal was waved through, despite it involving hundreds of helicopter flights per year, construction of permanent luxury accommodation, the creating of kilometres of walking tracks, the importation of unsanitised boats and the construction of a helicopter landing pad. Yet 16 bushwalkers from an official ‘event’ was deemed too much of a potential threat to the environment. Remember, if the walkers were not part of an ‘event’ they would have been free to enter the area as two groups of 8 private walkers. Still are. Furthermore if the PWS was genuinely concerned about environmental impacts it could have modified or cancelled the event simply by tweaking our compulsory ‘event permit’ application, which would be the normal way of doing things. (We never even got a chance to submit our application, which was not due to be lodged until several days after we were notified of the EPBC discussions.)

We consider the threat of EPBC assessment to be a slap in the face to the traditional users of the area. Still, we have been legally advised that we cannot encourage walkers to attend the lake shore as part of our private walk. Our sincere apologies go to those dedicated lovers of wild Tasmania who wanted to join that part of the formal protest.

The good news is that the restrictions on access apply only to the event itself. After the rally at trawtha mukaminya (Gowan Brae) independent walkers and fishers remain free to enter the Western Lakes as normal. After the rally, as independents, you remain perfectly entitled to go for a fish or a walk in our beautiful and still wild Western Lakes.

Reclaim Malbena – For a wild and free Western Lakes and World Heritage Area.


Original information about the weekend

TWS and FAWAHA say of the camp:

“Come and visit Lake Malbena to reclaim this public place for what it should be: public land that excludes no one. All our welcome on this trip. There will be a base camp and for those who are physically up to it, there will be a trip to Lake Malbena.

We are setting up a formal online portal through which people can register for this trip, as well as their support, will post details shortly. In the meantime, please use this event to register your interest.

This event could only proceed thanks to the generosity of the Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre granting their permission to cross Aboriginal land, trawtha mukaminya, to reach Lake Malbena. Thank you to the TAC”.

You can find out more here via the facebook page.