Image for 1.9  Capes  -  Another Bungle in the Jungle

Since the outset, the Tasmanian government’s effort to construct a high-grade walking track on the Tasman Peninsula has been fraught with ill-conceived blunders.

Given the $40 Million (projected $62 million) was intended to be a world-class track you would have thought it was imperative to employ a project supervisor who at least had some track construction experience. But that was not the case, leaving the on-site decision-making to the bumbling bureaucrats, which has resulted in an invairiable string of follies.

The first kilometre or so of the track east of Fortescue Bay is a monumental botch-up because Parks & Wildlife ignored the gently graded surveyed-line and opted for a highly-expensive undulated route that encompassed the installation of approximately 700 steps, some at a steep gradient to over 15 degrees. This ignominious and inconceivable action has been estimated to waste around $250.000, which ultimately resulted in a poorer quality section of walking track.

To the credit of track-workers some of the later formed track is high quality, though the selection of the materials by the department is highly questionable. The intended construction of a fire-proof track seems to have been abandoned and now walkers will find themselves strolling along kilometres of mesmerizing raised duckboard, which is preposterous considering only one section of the track traverses a wet area over a few hundred metres.

With such a high-standard easy-walking track the distance between the hut complexes sites on route to Cape Pillar will be only an hour’s walk, which essentially makes the Lunchtime Creek one superfluous. If these village sites have to be constructed then one alone at Calculation Hill would serve the purpose of servicing both portions of the route.

The full extent of the proposed walk to reach all 3 Capes seems abandoned beyond the foreseeable future. Even after the department came to that decision, the track has not been extended out to Cape Pillar, leaving the construction work terminated at the Blade lookout, around 800 metres short of the Cape’s viewpoint. So once we had a 3 Capes proposal, now it is ultimately a 1.9 Capes fiasco.

Several years after the project began the decision as to where the track will begin from is yet to be resolved. The drivers of the project still want the quick-fix Port Arthur to Denmans Cove boat access despite the expense and discouraging cautions from Peninsula seafarers. Given that the illogical 3 kilometre boat ride is being promoted as an integral part of the experience it would make more sense, considering the infrastructure is already in place, to travel a bit longer from Dootown along the scenic coastal cliffs to Fortescue Bay. Alternatively the track may begin near Oakwood and proceed through State Forest, though the link route suggested by The Keep the Capes Wild Group through Tunah Plains to Surveyors Cove region is the most practical, which would provide the option of a circuit walk.

The current construction work continues to cut large holes in the mature forest which allows helicopters to transport materials to the track sites. This insensitive and invasive action is totally unnecessary, as local materials around Mt Fortescue could have been used to construct the track at a lower standard than the projects design

With a seemingly blank cheque, an ill-conceived design and poor decision-making one wonders how the project will end up. Essentially all the major tracks in the World Heritage area could have been repaired and upgraded for the expenses gobbled up by the 3 Capes Project.

Given Tasmania’s prime walking tracks such as the Overland, Frenchmans, South Coast, Anne and Arthur Ranges are currently requiring major repairs or priority erosion control, it seems a very poor choice to continue with the 3 Capes project considering that it will never receive the estimated the 10,000 visitors a year.

So it is obvious that the tourism objective is to provide a boutique commercial experience, though to date, after many years of planning and promotion, the government still has not been able to sign-up a commercial investor. Seems like one more taxpayer-funded white elephant ending in another bungle in jungle.