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Mountain Journal

Environment, news, culture from the Australian Alps

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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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More private development in Tasmania’s parks system?

Negotiations are underway to allow ‘no fewer’ than six private hut-based walks under the Tasmanian government’s wilderness tourism expression of interest program.

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The Mt Wellington/ kunanyi cable car and the Tasmanian election

With a state election happening in Tasmania on March 3, the Liberal government quietly gave the Mount Wellington Cable Car Company permission to start drilling and surveying on the mountain just days before the state election was called. Plans to build a cable car up Mt Wellington/ kunanyi are being resisted by many in the Tasmania community.

Residents group opposed to the cable car (Respect the Mountain. No Cablecar) have put out a call for people to contact the ALP, to encourage the party to clarify their position on the cable car. They are also calling on people to lobby the brewery CUB, which has land at the base of the mountain, and who has been approached by the developer to be involved in the project.

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Which resorts have been most impacted by climate change?

The Climate Council has released a report which outlines the likely impacts of climate change on tourism in Australia.

The section on the snow sports industry confirms what we already know: that climate change will have significant impacts on the economics of the sector, with resulting loss of jobs and local businesses. It highlights the fact that despite attempts to broaden activity at ski resorts into the ‘green season’, a large proportion of income is still derived during winter and hence there are limitations to how resorts can buffer against bad winters.

In Victoria, Mt Stirling and Mt Buller have been most affected by shorter ski seasons.

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A new long distance walking trail for East Gippsland

The campaign for the Emerald Link park in East Gippsland 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.

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Outdoor industries ‘taking on global warming when our country isn’t’

The biannual Outdoor Retailer trade show in the USA is an enormous event. This year it has relocated to Colorado in protest at the state government of Utah supporting moves by the Trump administration to gut protection for federal conservation reserves. This shift marks a growing willingness to act to protect wild lands.

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Walks & trails guide to north east VIC

The Alpine Shire has produced a great walking guide for the areas between Myrtleford and Mt Beauty to Dinner Plain and back to Harrietville. Operating through the ‘Bright & Surrounds‘ tourist info program, the guide offers descriptions for walks in and around key towns plus wilder destinations like the Alpine National Park, Mt Bogong and the Buffalo Plateau.

Paper copies are available from tourist information centres in north eastern towns or online here.

This excellent resource aims to get more visitors to the region out on walking tracks, and makes it easy for first timers by providing full details on the distance and difficulty and notes for more than 65 walks.

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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What’s happening with the Buffalo Chalet?

The Chalet at Mt Buffalo is a much loved Victorian icon. Originally owned and operated by the Victorian Railways, it provided on mountain accommodation from the early 1900s until a decade ago.

It was closed in 2007 and has been falling into an ever more run down state each year.

There have been several attempts to restore it to some of its former glory. However none of the government money allocated to this purpose has ever delivered much.

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