The Tanglefoot Picnic Ground is an iconic area in the heart of the Toolangi Forest to the east of Melbourne – complete with beautiful surrounds, an information stand, picnic tables and a toilet. It is also the gateway to the amazing Kalatha Giant which is 300- 400 years old, and the start of the wonderful and popular Myrtle Gully Walking Track . Its accessibility and rich ecology has led to it being visited by many thousands of tourists each year.
But the area behind the picnic ground is now being being logged! Eventually the coupe will cover 51 hectares. This will greatly impact on the general beauty of the area and make it far less attractive to visitors. It will see the needless further destruction of precious native forest.
The Falls to Hotham Alpine Crossing is described as “a mid-distance hiking experience through the unique and captivating Australian alpine environment”. There are plans to re-route it to make it a 56 kilometre trip and a Draft Master Plan has been released. Public comment is welcome before December 19.
Parks Victoria says “the walk will be supplemented with high quality accommodation options and interpretation that enable a range of visitors to fully immerse themselves in the beauty and stories of Victoria’s High Country”.
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.
Tourism North East has called for feedback on the master plan for the Falls to Hotham Alpine Crossing walk. This has been billed as an ‘iconic’ walk which links the two resorts via the Bogong High Plains and Cobungra Gap, and is generally done over three days. A permit is required to camp at the Falls to Hotham Alpine Crossing campsites.
There is a proposal for a major re-alignment of the walk, which instead of skirting the High Plains, cuts out to Tawonga Huts then down into the Kiewa Valley and up Mt Feathertop. This new proposal would require substantial new track building up the Diamantina Spur. The initial public consultation period for the Plan is over.
In a worrying development, decades worth of environmental campaigning could be lost under plans unveiled by the Tasmanian government to open up the world heritage area to logging and tourism.
Under the rhetoric of supporting Indigenous people, the government has released the draft Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area Management Plan Project, while opening up the prospect of major new developments withing the region.
The grand old dame of Victoria’s alpine country, the Mount Buffalo Chalet, will reopen its doors once a $7 million project to refurbish the historic building and establish a day visitor centre and, hopefully, a cafe is complete.
The first clean-up works inside the 103-year-old chalet, closed since January 2007, are expected to start within weeks. But the project is more than a facelift, because outbuildings as well as some rooms that were not part of the original structure are likely to be demolished. Building assessments and recommendations will be carried out soon.
Environment Minister Ryan Smith will announce the project today and say the government is committed to preserving the building for future generations and ensuring ”the site is primed and ready for appropriate future investment.”
In an interview with Fairfax Media on Friday, he said the chalet was ”an icon in the area. It’s a state asset. We need to make sure that we can get people up there. I’m passionate about getting as many people into our parks as possible.”
”We want to make sure it’s useful, rather than just spending taxpayers’ money on maintaining something that’s not actually being used. So I think it’s important that we do get it back to some useable state.”
Mr Smith said the project, expected to take about a year, would pave the way for development, subject to national parks guidelines. Recent research found no private operator was interested in the site in its current state.
In about a year the government would call for expressions of interest for the site. ”Everything’s on the table, as long as it conforms to our guidelines around tourism development in these national parks,” he said.
Asked if the chalet could once again offer accommodation, he said: ”I’d leave it to commercial forces … But I’d look at anything. What I hope is that we get something that’s sustainable. I don’t want to look back in three years or five years or whatever and say ‘That didn’t work’.”
The works will be funded by a $4.7 million insurance payout for bushfire damage on Mount Buffalo and a contribution from the state’s Regional Growth Fund.
Mayor of the Alpine Shire, Peter Roper, said the project was ”absolutely fantastic news” that would be welcomed by locals.