The Razorback
The Razorback

The Victorian government is currently calling for tenders to design the Falls to Hotham Alpine Crossing Master Plan. The plan will define the level of future developments which will occur along the trail – and associated infrastructure like private developments to allow overnight accommodation.

Check here for a background on the recent upgrade of the walk.

It identifies the walk as being part of a bigger program:

Walk Victoria’s Icons is a trademark brand comprising a portfolio of four long distance walks located in iconic regions renowned for their outstanding natural landscapes, wildlife and cultural values across Victoria. With a vision to be compelling, world-class, year round sustainable walking experiences, the Great Ocean Walk, Grampians Peaks Trail, Falls to Hotham Alpine Crossing and Coastal Wilderness Walk represent the quintessential nature-based attributes of the State – from dramatic coastlines to rugged mountain peaks, from remote waterways and inlets to alpine and sub-alpine scenery.

As four distinct walks the Walk Victoria’s Icons walks are designed to capture discerning high yield experience seekers who have a desire to be immersed in exceptional natural beauty that is supported by high quality products and services.

It is seen as being a

guided 2 day walk of 25km, with potential for 4 days, offers an experience that will be as challenging as it will be rewarding.

So far, so good: more people out in the hills….

The Falls to Hotham Alpine Crossing Master Plan will be lead by Parks Victoria in partnership with Tourism North East, Tourism Victoria and Regional Development Victoria.

The preferred route goes from Falls Creek, around Rocky Valley dam to Wallaces hut, then across the High Plains, descending to Dibbins hut, then downstream along the Kiewa to Diamantina spur, up to Feathertop, and out to Hotham along the razorback.

The documents say:

The main driver for this project is the need for a resolved, design-led, strategic master plan and implementation strategy (the master plan) for the FHAC which considers regional tourism and commercial opportunities in the context of recent changes to public land policy, particularly tourism investment in national parks.

That is, the Coalition governments intention to encourage private development within national parks.

The tender documents show that private accommodation is planned to be developed. Included in the brief for the tender is the requirement that the master plan:

Identify settings where opportunities may exist for potential private sector investment in on-walk roofed accommodation and/or services;

Coming soon to a national park near you? Image: Cradle Mountain huts
Coming soon to a national park near you? Image: Cradle Mountain huts

They use the ‘precedent image’ of private huts along the Overland Track, Tasmania.

A final decision is expected by 2015.

What do you think?

It is great that the government is providing resources to further develop walking tracks to get more people out into parks.

It is orientated towards a market that is happy to pay to have ‘luxeries’ while in the bush, like high quality acommodation, so potentially brings a new group of people into the mountains, who would currently tend to stay in the neighbouring resorts.

However, it could be the thin end of the wedge in terms of developments within parks.

It will probably bring new walking track infrastructure to what is at present a relatively remote area with only a rough trail (the Diamantina spur).