In 2019, the Tasmanian premier, Will Hodgman, announced that ‘Tasmania’s wild West Coast’ had been chosen as the preferred location for the state’s next ‘Iconic Walk’.
The area selected is the remote Tyndall Range. This ‘iconic walk’ will be similar to the Overland and Three Capes Tracks, where private hut networks have been built and tours are run by commercial operators.
The Tasmanian Parks and Wildlife Service (P&WS) has announced that the ‘findings of a feasibility study into a new overnight experience in the Tyndall Range on Tasmania’s west coast ‘proves the proposal is feasible and will deliver a new and iconic multi-day walking experience’.
The plan to build an ‘iconic walk’ through this remote and pristine range has been strongly opposed by environmental groups and many bushwalkers.
The P&WS say:
The Tyndall Range was selected for the feasibility study from 35 possible proposals, and extensive community consultation, due to its extraordinary, spectacular, and dramatic landscape.
Community engagement featured strongly during the feasibility study, with seasoned walkers and other visitors surveyed. Feedback and input were also sought from the community and businesses, and market-tested to determine the appetite for a hut-based overnight walk in this location.
The feasibility study has identified a three-day, two-night, hut-based walk as being the best option from more than 50 alternative options tested. The walk will begin at Lake Plimsoll in the north and extend along the lower slopes to the eastern side of the Tyndall Range to Lake Margaret in the south.
The walk is located in the Tyndall Regional Reserve and Lake Beatrice Conservation area, outside of the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area.
Observations and reactions
It would appear that the preferred route will miss much of the sensitive alpine zones, which had been a concern for many people.
Initial reaction from members of the public on the P&WS facebook page was largely negative.
The Tasmanian National Parks Association say that the walk is an ‘inappropriate proposal’ for its location.
The Bob Brown Foundation said the ‘Tyndall Range proposed walk would drastically impact the wildness of one of the most outstanding (& biologically important) wild areas in the state. (It is) another giant step to privatising Tasmania’s wilderness’.
The Wilderness Society Tasmania said that the ‘proposed new walk is straying further down the wrong path’.
“The feasibility study tries to justify constructing a track in a stunning but remote, isolated, cold and wet location. By comparison, in a similar environment, Aotearoa/New Zealand’s government is spending millions to reduce visitation to moderate the environmental impacts of unsustainable, commercial tourism.”
“The $40M budget would be much better invested in Tasmania’s cash-strapped environment department to help it maintain existing public parks infrastructure and with urgent conservation efforts. There’s a real need to establish new national parks in the Tyndall Range.
The Tasmanian Wilderness Guides Association has expressed disappointment in the Parks and Wildlife Consult Process for the Tyndall Range Proposal.
Ciara Smart, President of the association noted that,
‘Detailed comment was extremely difficult because we were given very little information about the proposal. We were not told the exact route, or if commercial operators would be included, or the cost for public walkers. This made it difficult to provide useful feedback and we had to talk in vague, hypothetical terms.’
‘TWGA members expressed skepticism towards a hut-based development in this location for three reasons: Firstly, the development of large-scale public huts and a ticketed walk (in the Three Capes style) negates the perceived need for a skilled guide to ensure the safety of clients. Ticket cost is a major barrier that unfairly excludes certain demographics. Secondly, a helicopter-facilitated development will have negative environmental outcomes for a delicate alpine environment. Finally, a walk in this area is unsuitable for beginner bushwalkers, even those walking with guides, as the area is subject to extreme weather conditions’.
They also expressed concern that their position on the walk may have been mis represented: ‘Our association is concerned to see it implied that we are a supporter of the proposal’.
Responses from other environmental groups will be added as it becomes available.
Previous Mountain Journal stories on the proposal can be found here.
To find out more, read the FAQ and download the feasibility study