Mountain Journal has previously reported on the planned walking track through the Tyndall Range in western Tasmania. The TAS government wants to see it developed as the next ‘iconic walk’ in the state. This will mean considerable walking track development in what is currently a remote and undeveloped area, and could bring up to 10,000 people a year into a delicate alpine environment. As stated by the Tasmanian National Parks Association (TNPA), ‘construction of any hardened track on the Tyndall Range and Plateau would mar the landscape and destroy its wild and natural character’.
This is an update on the status of this proposal.
This is taken from the TNPA newsletter and provides an update on what is happening with the government’s proposal. (Scroll down for background info on why the TNPA opposes this proposal).
Soon after the announcement of the Tyndall Range as the preferred location, the Bob Brown Foundation proposed an alternative route, east of the range, that avoids the alpine plateau. This is certainly desirable as, with the envisaged up to 10,000 walkers in a currently little-visited area, it is difficult to see how impacts on any higher-level route would be contained.
Better options also exist for developing more environmentally-robust walks elsewhere in the West Coast region. For example, Zeehan to Trial Harbour, the Heemskirk Coast (Trial Harbour to Granville Harbour) and Eastern Macquarie Harbour.
By February 2020, the Parks and Wildlife Service (PWS) ideas had evolved to consider three route options and associated user models:
- An in-out partial-circuit route from Anthony Road to Farquhar Lookout with an overnight node at Lake Huntley. Track standard on this option was envisaged as similar to the Overland Track.
- A through walk from Anthony Road to Lake Burbury impoundment. As well as the open buttongrass country east of the Tyndall Range, this would traverse steep and pristine rainforested terrain above Lake Beatrice. It would also require two overnight nodes, at Lake Huntley and above Lake Beatrice, as well as boat transport on Lake Burbury at the walk’s end. Track standard was envisaged as similar to the Frenchmans Cap Track.
- An adventure hub/base camp model with a new track similar to that proposed for Option 1 but perhaps not as long and with the overnight node located further north, perhaps near the Lake Plimsoll impoundment (i.e. not at Lake Huntley) and also promoting and utilising other existing day walk tracks in the region. This would require upgrading of a number of these existing tracks.
The TNPA says:
Of these options, we much prefer the latter, considering it would involve less impact on currently undeveloped country, facilitate the repair of some existing neglected tracks in the region, and potentially bring greater benefits to the local community and businesses. But we do have concerns regarding which existing walks in the region would be promoted as part of the package. For example, Mt Murchison was mentioned as a possibility and we feel the terrain and environmental sensitivity of this area means it should not be promoted for mass use. More appropriate options in the region include Mts Zeehan, Black and Farrell, and Montezuma Falls.
The TNPA will continue to engage with PWS.
The Tyndall Range is part of the greater West Coast Range, lying between Mts Lyell and Murchison. It is unique in the West Coast Range and rare in a Tasmanian context being historically unburnt (perhaps for 1000s of years) and displaying quite limited degradation from past mineral exploration and mining activity. The Tyndall Range includes areas of very high environmental sensitivity (low resistance and resilience to trampling impacts) and ecological significance. Ecologist Prof. Jamie Kirkpatrick has noted “the Tyndall Range is a floristic extreme of Tasmanian alpine vegetation and is unusual among the western mountains in that virtually all the alpine zone is unburnt and dominated by gymnosperms or deciduous beech”.
There is currently nowhere else in Tasmania where such large numbers as proposed (perhaps up to 10,000/year) are encouraged into this western alpine ecological community. Construction of any hardened track on the Tyndall Range and Plateau would mar the landscape and destroy its wild and natural character. The Plateau is open country and it would not be possible to constrain walkers to a narrow track corridor. The presence of large numbers of walkers in an area, and indeed the publicity for the area that is generated by a high profile walking experience, would lead to the development of unplanned trampled routes. The Tyndalls has long been proposed as an addition to the adjacent Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area. That the area lacks even national park status, let alone World Heritage listing, is an indictment of successive governments, not a reflection of its calibre. The walk proposal straddles the Tyndall Regional Reserve and Lake Beatrice Conservation Area. Neither of these have management plans and the designated reserve objectives are quite inadequate to protect the world heritage level values of the area. One also has to question the recreational rationale for the walk selection. If the aim is to emulate the Three Capes Track and attract large numbers of often inexperienced walkers all year, this is the wrong location. The Tyndalls are a high range in the wettest region of Tasmania. Even if the route (the exact route has yet to be determined) does not include the highest parts of the range it seems unlikely to receive much use outside the summer months.
IMAGE: Rob Blakers. http://www.robblakers.com