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Mountain Journal

Environment, news, culture from the Australian Alps

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Cradle Mountain

Cradle Mountain Film Fest

Come up to Cradle Mountain, Tasmania from April 6 to 8 2018 for a weekend of adventure and film.

We are chuffed to be hosting the Tasmanian exclusive screening of Mountainfilm On Tour all the way from Telluride, Colorado at Cradle Mountain. Mountainfilm is a fantastic festival that showcases the best of the world’s adventure films.

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The environment and the Tasmanian election

The Tasmanian election is largely being fought on ‘bread and butter’ issues like health, jobs and education. Gambling and the future of pokies is also a significant issue. But around the edges of debate there are some interesting promises and policy commitments around the natural environment.

While environment debate during elections tends to focus on forestry issues, this time, the future of existing national parks and reserves has been more dominant. With Tasmania looking to develop new tourism opportunities, especially in the realm of nature-based tourism, the park system is seen as the next frontier by the state government, which has been pursuing private development with national parks.

The following covers some of the debate and policy being announced about the natural environment in Tasmania. The election will be held on March 3. It does not seek to cover broader energy or climate issues.

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Construction starts on Cradle Mountain tourist centre

In 2016 a new tourism plan for northern Tasmania has launched, which raised the possibility of there being new developments adjacent to the Cradle Mountain National Park. Its key intention was to greatly increase visitors to the north of the state.

Part of the detail of the plan included a ‘cable car’/ gondola which would run from just outside the northern boundary of the park into the park at Dove Lake. The cornerstone of the proposal was the development of new tourist centre, which is where the gondola would start from.

This week saw construction start on the $21.8 million ‘gateway precinct’ (ie new tourist centre) and Dove Lake re-development. According to Tourism Industry Council of Tasmania chief executive Luke Martin, the start of construction was “a significant day of epic proportion”.

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Tasmanian ALP pledges $30 million to Cradle Mountain cable car

In a worrying move, the ALP in Tasmania has announced that it will allocate $30 million if they win the next state election towards the cable car which is planned for the Cradle Mountain National Park in Tasmania.

The idea for a cable car was raised in a Master Plan for the Cradle Valley section of the Cradle Mountain Lake St Clair National Park, which was developed by the Cradle Coast Authority.

The cable car would connect the Cradle Mountain visitor centre to Dove Lake. Construction of the cable car would require the Commonwealth Government to chip in another $30 million.

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1,700 years of climate history in Tasmania’s King Billy Pine

This is a fantastic story. Anyone who has walked in the mountains of central and western Tasmania is probably familiar with the King Billy Pine (Athrotaxis selaginoides). Individual trees can live for more than 1,00 years. It is one of the conifers that are endemic to Tasmania and exists only within a very limited range of habitat. Fire threatens the species (one third of its habitat was burnt in the twentieth century), and climate change is expected to increase the severity of fire seasons in future.

The following article outlines a research project that used core samples from King Billy trees to develop a better understanding of climate in Tasmania in previous centuries. It is available here.

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Alpine haven of Daisy Dell gets logging reprieve

Many people who have been into Cradle Valley will have driven past Daisy Dell, on the Middlesex Plains, just to the north and east of the park entry. This is great news: an area earmarked for clear-felling is set to be protected from logging and development forever after a Tasmanian Land Conservancy fundraising campaign. It was originally published in the Sunday Tasmanian on the weekend of Dec 3 & 4, 2016. The journalist is Helen Kempton.

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Tourism in national parks. When is enough enough?

Mountain Journal has previously covered the release of a proposed Master Plan for the Cradle Valley section of the Cradle Mountain Lake St Clair National Park, which was developed by the Cradle Coast Authority. We highlighted some of the positive aspects of the proposal here.

However, a cornerstone of the proposal is a cable car, which would run from a new tourist centre to the north of the park boundary to Crater Lake. The Authority says ‘the Cable Car is the core element of the Cradle Mountain concept.’

A recent article by Nicholas Sawyer in The Mercury provides some thoughtful views about the proposal for a cable car and the broader issue of how tourism interacts with our national parks.

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The ‘Cradle Mountain Visitor Experience Master Plan’

Mountain Journal recently reported on the new master plan that was being developed to improve the ‘tourism experience’ at the north end of the Cradle Mountain Lake St Clair National Park. Yes, I’m a grumpy old bushwalker who goes to Cradle Valley because it’s the access point for miles of terrain, rocky mountains, alpine moors and fantastic walking, rather than because I expect a ‘world class tourism experience’ in a national park.

But I do understand that many people expect first class facilities and that’s where the sheer numbers of visitors are. With Cradle Valley visitation declining, it was deemed that something had to be done, and so we have the release of the new master plan for the area, developed by the Cradle Coast Authority, which hopes to increase visitor numbers by 60,000 to 80,000 a year.

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Cradle Mountain plan to increase tourism

An announcement about a new tourism plan for northern Tasmania has raised the possibility of there being new developments adjacent to the Cradle Mountain National Park.

The Examiner reports that:

AN ‘‘EDGY’’ plan to upgrade Cradle Mountain tourist facilities aims to have a similar effect on tourism numbers in Northern Tasmania as the launch of the Spirit of Tasmania.

The master plan, formed over six months and spearheaded by the Cradle Coast Authority, is expected to be launched late this week after stakeholders are briefed.

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