Mountain Journal

Environment, news, culture from the Australian Alps



Tasmanian Wilderness Guides Association calls for halt on developments within World Heritage Areas

The South Coast Track travels 85k m from Melaleuca to Cockle Creek along the coastline of south western lutruwita/ Tasmania. It traverses wild beaches and mountains and feels like one of the most remote places on earth. The landscape that the track passes through is a part of the massive Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area (TWWHA) that protects most of the south west of the state.

As part of the state government’s agenda to see more private development within World Heritage and national parks, a seven-day guided walk has been proposed for the South Coast Track, which would include six walkers’ privately operated huts built.

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‘Sea to Summit Forest Trail’ market research released

Activists have been campaigning for the creation of the ‘Emerald Link’ park in East Gippsland, which aims to protect the more-or-less intact ecosystems that run from the coast to the mountains. A long distance walking trail is an integral part of the proposal. The proposed Sea to Summit Forest Trail would create a network of walking tracks linking the coastal town of Bemm River and the existing Wilderness Coast walk to the summit of Mount Ellery, the highest mountain in far East Gippsland.

The Victorian government has recently released market research findings, which is part of the $1.5 million Andrews government’s investment in planning for the walk.

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Tourism & outdoor industry stands up for forests

The forests of north east Tasmania are like nowhere else on Earth. From the glacial refugia forests of the Blue Tier holding the tallest flowering plants on earth, to the Gondwanic remnant forests around the Blue Derby mountain bike trails, these forests are under increasing threat from logging.

The campaign to protect these forests in recent times has been driven by locals involved in ecotourism and outdoor adventures like mountain bike riding. It has been a great example of people standing up for the places that they love.

Last week, more than 160 other tourism bodies, signed an open letter to the State Premier, the Minister for Tourism, Hospitality and Events and the Minister for Climate Change regarding the economic and environmental implications of logging carbon-rich Gondwana remnant forests in the North-East of Tasmania. These forests are within proximity of the world-famous Blue Derby bike tracks.

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What’s happening with the Falls to Hotham Alpine Crossing?

The Falls to Hotham Crossing is a lovely three day walk from the resort town of Falls Creek, across the Bogong High Plains, to Mt Hotham. Managed by Parks Victoria (PV), you need to book to use the designated campsites near Cope Hut and Dibbins hut. It is a hugely popular walk.

There are also plans to extend and reroute the Crossing, turning it a five day ‘serviced hiking opportunity’ in the Alpine National Park. After the finalisation of the Master Plan for the walk, the state government allocated $2 million of funds in the 2018/19 budget. Then additional funds were allocated to continue the planning for the project, including Stage 1 of the construction.

Parks Victoria say ‘The Falls to Hotham Alpine Crossing will be one of Australia’s outstanding alpine walking experiences that captures the essence of the Australian Alps – the solitude, the seasons, the breathtaking beauty and the stories of the High Country’. However there has been sustained opposition to the proposal because it will see development of private commercial infrastructure (including small accomodation ‘pods’) within the Alpine National Park.

PV are currently focused on completing the Environmental Values Assessment. PV say that the assessment will ‘ensure potential impacts are identified and that the appropriate avoidance and mitigation measures are put in place. The planning process is aimed at reducing current and future impacts on the values of the national park’.

Continue reading “What’s happening with the Falls to Hotham Alpine Crossing?”

Big win for campaign against Lake Malbena ‘helicopter tourism’ proposal

In big news, the campaign against the proposal for a controversial ‘helicopter tourism’ development in a remote part of lutruwita/ Tasmania received a significant boost today.

The Wilderness Society, supported by the Environment Defenders Office, has won an appeal against the proposal.

The proposal will now return to the Resource Management and Planning Appeal Tribunal (RMPAT), who will be asked to reassess it and take into consideration its impact on wilderness world heritage values.

For background on this proposal, please check here.

IMAGE: Dan Broun.

A cable car to Dove Lake?

The following story comes from the Tasmanian National Parks Association (TNPA).

‘Everybody had thought that the most preposterous aspect of the 2016 Cradle Mountain Master Plan – the cableway from the visitor centre to Dove Lake – had long been forgotten. Unfortunately the nightmare of another major intrusion into the naturalness of Cradle Valley is turning into reality with the Coordinator General recently announcing it to the annual conference of the Tourism Industry Council of Tasmania as a fait accompli.

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NSW National Parks Association and Nature Conservation Council launch campaign against ‘massive’ commercial development in Kosciuszko National Park.

The NSW National Parks Association and the Nature Conservation Council have launched a campaign to stop a massive intensification of commercial development within Kosciuszko National Park.

The NSW Government is proposing to increase the cap on resort beds by more than 40% (up from 10,915 to 15,360), build new and expanded carparks, allow helicopter flights onto the ski fields, and open walking tracks to four-wheel drive vehicles.

“These reckless proposals overturn more than 40 years of careful planning and management of the park,” NSW National Parks Association Executive Officer Gary Dunnett said.

Continue reading “NSW National Parks Association and Nature Conservation Council launch campaign against ‘massive’ commercial development in Kosciuszko National Park.”

UNESCO pushes back against the privatisation of the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area 

Many thousands of people campaigned for years to see the best areas of wild Tasmania protected in national parks, World Heritage and other conservation reserves. However, the current Liberal state government continues its efforts to open up these areas to commercial development via tourism ventures.

While the plans for a ‘helicopter’ tourism venture at Lake Malbena on the Central Plateau has been generating a lot of community opposition, a range of other, lesser known projects are also being pursued by a number of developers.

There has been a recent meeting of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) which considered the ‘In Danger’ listing of the Great Barrier Reef. The Australian government’s efforts to avoid this listing received a huge amount of coverage. There was another issue which got far less coverage, but which includes some much better news.

UNESCO has put the government on notice over it’s privatisation agenda: any development that impacts upon the World Heritage Area’s Outstanding Universal Values must be referred back to the Committee for review.

Continue reading “UNESCO pushes back against the privatisation of the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area “

Major new developments planned for Kosciuszko National Park

The New South Wales government has released its 40-year plan to turn the Snowy Mountains into a ‘year-round tourist destination’. The draft Special Activation Precinct plan outlines options for future growth in and around Jindabyne.

The public is encouraged to submit feedback on the draft plan by mid-August. Amendments to the Kosciuszko National Park Plan of Management have also been released for public feedback. This proposes substantial new developments within the Kosciuszko National Park. It is also open for public comment.

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Stand up for the Mountain – no cable car on kunanyi

The Mt Wellington Cableway Company’s (MWCC) proposal for a commercial centre on the summit of kunanyi/Mt Wellington, aerial tramway up the face of the mountain, associated infrastructure and works is now open for public comment. Whether you live in Hobart or just love the mountain, you can make a submission about the proposal.

Local residents group Respect the Mountain – No Cable Car says: ‘The Mountain is too significant, too wild to be handed over to developers. MWCC’s plan degrades kunanyi/Mt Wellington and fails to comply with much of the relevant legislation’.

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Mixed reactions to release of the Tourism Master Plan for the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area

The long-awaited Tourism Master Plan (TMP) for the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area (TWWHA) has now been released by the new Parks Minister for Tasmania, Jacquie Petrusma. Given the many attempts by the Tasmanian government to promote commercial tourism in Wilderness and World Heritage Areas, there is a lot resting on this plan.

Continue reading “Mixed reactions to release of the Tourism Master Plan for the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area”

National poll finds overwhelming support for protecting Australia’s wilderness

As a number of state governments continue to pursue commercial tourism options  in national parks and World Heritage Areas, a recent poll shows that these moves are out of step with community opinion. A Roy Morgan poll has found 90% of Australians support the protection of Australia’s wilderness areas. Of significance is the fact that support is high across the political spectrum, with 86% of Coalition voters, 92% of Labor voters and 94% of Greens voters agreeing wilderness should be protected.

Continue reading “National poll finds overwhelming support for protecting Australia’s wilderness”

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