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Mountain Journal

Environment, news, culture from the Australian Alps

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Tourism

Development proposals for wilderness areas have not been disclosed to the public

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 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.

Emily Baker, reporting for the ABC says that ‘documents obtained by the ABC show the Tasmanian government has received almost 60 proposals for tourism developments in wilderness areas, but only 30 have been disclosed to the public’.

Continue reading “Development proposals for wilderness areas have not been disclosed to the public”

Bushfire recovery funds for alpine and valley communities

Ten projects in Indi (north eastern Victoria) have received funding through the federal governments Local Economic Recovery (LER) program for bushfire recovery.

Local Member for Indi, Helen Haines, says: ‘They will bring new jobs and attract tourism, and I’m so proud to see the hard work and initiative of our region recognised by this investment.

‘It is fantastic that the Alpine resorts have received $7 million for three transformational projects. The resorts were hit hard by the fires and then COVID-19, and yet inexplicably, the Government had initially excluded them from the bushfire recovery funding.

‘There is also great news for tourism in our region here. $5 million for the Great River Road, upgrades to the Alpine Hotel and Bright Velo will help position our region for a strong economic recovery, creating sustainable jobs by bringing tourists to our wonderful region’.

Continue reading “Bushfire recovery funds for alpine and valley communities”

‘Identifying the benefits’ of a new track system in the Tyndall Range

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 Range is known for its rock climbing on conglomerate cliffs up to 300m in height, glacial lakes and substantial alpine areas and ‘out of the way’ nature. The plan to introduce a commercial operation is being opposed by many in the community.

The Tasmanian Parks and Wildlife Service (PWS) is currently exploring options to develop the walk.  The Project is still in the feasibility study stage. The PWS is seeking community assistance through a survey to ‘identify the benefits’ you think will arise from this project, so that the feasibility study ‘can be as comprehensive as possible’.

Continue reading “‘Identifying the benefits’ of a new track system in the Tyndall Range”

2020. It’s been fun. Let’s move on.

Wow. What a year. Crazy summer fires. Covid lockdowns. Terrible winter snow pack, but also some incredible snow storms. Lots of fighting over our mountains, including the endless culture war argument about horses. Kind of glad it’s almost at an end.

We all know the story: a dry winter and spring led to a horror summer, with massive fires across the eastern Victorian high countrySnowy Mountains and Brindabellas. Luckily Tasmania got off easy last summer.

Then the lockdown(s), which hit mountain and valley towns in Victoria especially hard, isolated Tasmania, and closed the NSW/ Victorian border. The economic impacts of these events will last for a long time.

And then there were the ongoing arguments about how to treat our mountains. It felt like issues were widespread this year. Here’s a few of them:

Continue reading “2020. It’s been fun. Let’s move on.”

No commercial development on ‘the People’s mountain’!

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, 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. In the state budget for 2018/19, there was an allocation of funds to help make the project a reality. Now additional funds have been allocated to continue the planning for the project, including Stage 1 of the construction.

The proposal has been widely criticised because it will help open up previously undeveloped areas near Mt Feathertop and allow private development within the Alpine National Park. It will see a major upgrade of the route that currently follows Diamantina Spur up to the Razorback from the West Kiewa valley.

The Falls to Hotham Alpine Crossing is part of a ‘branded portfolio’ of four long-distance walks known as ‘Walk Victoria’s Icons’ and is being strongly backed by the Victorian government. Outdoor, nature based tourism is a great thing. It’s good for individual and public health, and great for regional economies. However, private commercial development within a national park is strongly opposed by many people. 

Continue reading “No commercial development on ‘the People’s mountain’!”

Speak up for the people who manage our parks

Our national parks rely on parks staff on so many levels, from managing tourism to fighting fires. Sadly, in Tasmania, austerity measures have been imposed on Department of Primary Industry, Parks, Water & the Environment (DPIPWE) employees, which includes park rangers and other Parks and Wildlife Service (PWS) staff.

Please add your voice and oppose the cut backs.

Continue reading “Speak up for the people who manage our parks”

Support mountain businesses this summer

As 2020 races towards Christmas and New Year, lots of us are thinking about presents and holidays. Here’s a few ideas about some of the great businesses in north east VIC that you could support. As we all know, these regions were hard hit by last summer’s fires, two rounds of pandemic lockdown and a shortened ski season.

This is like #emptyesky for gear and adventure operators.

Continue reading “Support mountain businesses this summer”

What does the Victorian budget provide for mountain environments?

We know that the mountains we love face an existential threat from climate change: less snow, more fire, less streamflow are all starting to transform vegetation communities and the look and feel of mountain environments.

The Victorian state government released it’s budget for 2020/21 yesterday. Apart from the welcome climate and energy measures (which will help the state to play its part in reducing its contribution to further climate change), there are a number of allocations that are relevant to mountain environments.

Continue reading “What does the Victorian budget provide for mountain environments?”

Helicopter tourism at Lake Malbena will ‘significantly and adversely impact wilderness character’ of area

The long campaign against a plan for helicopter-based tourism at Lake Malbena on the Central Plateau in Tasmania has received a welcome boost. The Commonwealth Environment Minister, Sussan Ley, has released a ‘Statement of Reasons’ explaining why she determined that the proposed helicopter-accessed luxury accommodation will be a “controlled action”, requiring a more thorough assessment under the Commonwealth environmental law, the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act). 

Tom Allen for the Wilderness Society Tasmania said “Minister Ley’s Statement reveals why, for the first time, an Environment Minister has recognised that the Lake Malbena proposal will significantly and adversely impact threatened species, wilderness character and reduce natural and World Heritage values”. 

Continue reading “Helicopter tourism at Lake Malbena will ‘significantly and adversely impact wilderness character’ of area”

Public forum: Reclaim Our Reserves!

The Tasmanian Liberal government continues to pursue an agenda that would see national parks and other protected areas opened up to further commercial tourism. After spending decades working to see these areas protected, environmental groups are organised against the many specific proposals. Now there is a growing connection being drawn between the various groups and issues in play across the state.

There will be a public forum in Hobart on December 10 to address the scale of the threats to wild places.

Continue reading “Public forum: Reclaim Our Reserves!”

Lake Malbena ‘helicopter tourism’ proposal to undergo federal assessment

Tasmania is famed for its wild landscapes, much of which is protected in national parks and World Heritage.

In 2016, the Hodgman Liberal government changed the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area (TWWHA) management plan, rezoning various sections of what was once Wilderness zone, into ‘Self Reliant Recreation’ zoning, which allowed developers to propose commercial developments in these zones. Perhaps the highest profile case has involved the plan to allow helicopter landings to take place at Lake Malbena on the Central Plateau. This was approved by the Federal environment minister, and has been slowly moving forward despite a strong community campaign and legal challenge.

In a significant development, it has now been announced the proposal will now require Federal assessment of its environmental impacts.

Continue reading “Lake Malbena ‘helicopter tourism’ proposal to undergo federal assessment”

Keep the Western Lakes Wild and Public

The proposal for helicopter-accessed luxury huts at Lake Malbena is the test case for more than 30 secret development plans under the current Government’s Expressions of Interest process.

This exclusive and secretive lease of $1,000/year will destroy the serenity and all that is precious about the Western Lakes in the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area (TWWHA)

Come along to a public meeting hosted by Fishers and Walkers against helicopter access Tasmania to hear the latest & what we can do about it. Tickets are required (due to Covid) but are free!
Sunday, September 20, 2020 at 2 PM – 4 PM

Continue reading “Keep the Western Lakes Wild and Public”

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