Tasmanian Times


Three Capes Walking – The Denial of Freedom

*Pic: By Ted Mead on Pillar Cliffs

*Pic: By Ted Mead … of Cape Pillar

The Three Capes project impact. Pic: Rob Blakers, http://www.robblakers.com/

It is speculated that more than $40 million dollars has been squandered on the 3 Capes project so far, although the real $ figure is yet to be publically disclosed. The great injustice is that whilst taxpayers have totally funded the project, it seems the Liberal government and the Parks and Wildlife Service are tactically making as many moves as possible to discourage ‘freedom walkers’ from fully experiencing it.

After much consternation about restricting the public on the 3 Capes walk, the PWS has finally designated the 3 Capes public camping area to be the old campsite on Retakunna Creek. This will be indicated on the new 1:50,000 map, though PWS was extremely reluctant to provide that information to the Tas mapping department. This was probably in fear of it being a statement that the Capes walk is officially open to the general public, which is obviously not their agenda.

Retakunna Creek is far from an ideal campsite for those wishing to see the southern cliff region of Cape Pillar, which is the main attraction of the walk. Retakunna Creek camp is only about 1.5 hours from the road via the Agnes Creek track, and many hours away (a long-day return walk) from the scenic grand cliff areas further south.

Retakunna Creek is located deep in a rainforest valley and is a highly unpractical siting for a camp as it has a scarcity of level sites, no toilets, limited sunlight, and is directly downstream from the effluent sources of the village/hut area. The camp access track is poorly sited, steep, and unsuitable for high traffic volumes. It would probably cost another $ million to upgrade the track and campsite infrastructure, though financial expenditure has never been a concern on this project.

The decision to designate the Retakunna site as the only camp clearly indicates it is either –

• Park management incompetence at its zenith!

• Or chosen as the strongest option to discourage freedom walkers venturing along the track.

It would appear that in keeping with the department’s desire to make it an exclusive hut-based walk, then most of the southern campsites towards Cape Pillar may become closed to camping under the guise of environmental rehabilitation.

PWS do have the legal right to close campsites providing that they present public information and signage explaining the rationale behind the closures.

The possible closure of these campsites has nothing to do with environmental impacts or degradation, it is more about exclusive control over making it a hut-based walk by deterring camping in the region.

Closure of renowned campsites is a myopic view by PWS as bushwalkers will ultimately create new campsites that may be less manageable with higher environmental impacts.

Water sources are also unreliable south of the Munro hut area, so one could expect the department to attempt to prohibit walkers obtaining water from the hut storages as another deterrent.

Hut wardens are being employed to manage the immediate hut environs and infrastructure. These wardens are not Rangers and have no legal authority over the activities of bushwalkers and campers throughout the park. Hut wardens cannot issue directives against anyone wishing to bush camp in remote areas.

It would be unlikely that PWS will designate authorised Rangers to patrol the track to give directives to bushwalkers about where they can or cannot camp. PWS Rangers have no statutory legal grounds to issue infringements to bushwalkers camping freely in the park. Maybe the Director Peter Mooney will choose to establish a turnstile checkpoint so he can personally confront walkers to comply with the department’s dogmatic agenda? That may make him look even more favourable in the minister’s eye.

The Milford Track Precedent

Considering the government’s claimed that they have modelled the 3 Capes Walk on New Zealand’s Milford Sound Track then some parallels can be drawn between the two.

The Milford Sound Track was designed and constructed to be an exclusive commercial operation on public land. NZ bushwalkers (The Freedom Walkers) began using the Milford Track, as they believed it was their reserved right to visit the National Park. The commercial company objected to this activity and ultimately took the Freedom Walkers to court claiming exclusive rights were granted to them.

The commercial company lost the legal case, which resulted in the NZ government having to provide alternative huts and infrastructure to accommodate the public who wanted to visit the area.

Freedom walking in our National Parks is about your civil rights to see public places.

Taxpayers paid for this track and therefore reserve the right to walk and camp in the region.

So it seems civil disobedience should prevail.

Litigation between the State Government and ‘Tasmanian Freedom Walkers’ may yet decide where the public stands on visiting state-owned land.

• Su Chan in Comments: I can guarantee that there will be civil disobedience. Why should ordinary Tasmanians who have enjoyed this magnificent location for decades suddenly be denied access, handed a single choice of a third-rate campsite, or have to pay an extortionate rate to access a National Park? I can absolutely guarantee that what will happen is free-minded walkers will simply bash out campsites wherever it pleases them. That they will be forced to do so by PWS closing other campsites and harassing them is an act of environmental vandalism not by them, but by Parks who have created this exact situation in an attempt to squeeze out everyone but the rich tourists and milk them for as much money as possible. As a taxpayer, I have already paid for this upgrade, and I do not mind paying a reasonable amount to use it, but $500 (more than double Overlander’s fee, and there is no off-peak rate) is in no way reasonable.

Author Credits: [show_post_categories parent="no" parentcategory="writers" show = "category" hyperlink="yes"]


  1. William Boeder

    December 31, 2015 at 10:57 pm

    #17. steve your words are specific and straight to the heart of this entire matter.
    Surely we have no display of competence in either of the Lib/Lab pair of scoundrel State government political parties.
    This has been more of a show of blatant disregard toward the fundamentals of State governance.

    One might suggest that each of these pair rat-house parties are actually enemies of the citizens of this State.

  2. Steve

    December 31, 2015 at 10:16 pm

    I’m inclined to agree with #2 and I suspect officialdom’s legal position is extremely dubious.

    What is the position of the hut wardens?

    What authority do they have to control campers wishing to camp near the huts?

    What happens if walkers turn up at sunset and are in need of shelter?

    Who takes responsibility if the wardens deny shelter to someone who subsequently perishes?

    This is public land, this is a walking track paid for out of the public purse and facilitated by starving every other Tasmanian track that had a right to expect maintenance.

  3. William Boeder

    December 26, 2015 at 1:37 am

    Yes Robin, there have been a number of State government projects over the years that had been contrived to help the larger well connected mates of our ‘bugger-the-people’ Tasmanian Lib/Lab government ministers to help these business mates create an income, especially when there is scant other major project work happening in this State.
    Then there will be those other ‘mates of ministers’ that will have some form of contracted attachment to this ‘2 Capes walk’ rich-folk amusement, (that swallowed damn near all the revenue set aside for the 3 Capes walk) via an incorporated number of goods and supplies contracts whereby the goods supplied will be delivered in the most extraordinarily expensive manner, (helicoptered in) to the accommodation mini-villages along this new yuppie 2 Capes walking track.
    By the way Robin you have used the term ‘protest’ which is more of a ‘Greens behaviour’ than the usual ‘standover’ tactic’ made famous by your former employer.
    I have asked Malcolm T to send in a squad of sharp eyed Federal Police to have a nosey around in this State to gain a better grasp of this State’s non-constitutional bastard government leadership, which as most of the people in this State well know has long been the way of governance in Tasmania.

    A particularly significant change that must now be considered, is that a former member of the Abbott Cabinet, (this State’s most pompous poop-head Liberal Senator) and who has frequently featured in my Tasmanian Times comments as being the most ill-suited person to determine what happens in the State Liberal government, has since been kicked off the list of persons to proffer any whatsoever influences in the ‘newly captained’ Federal Liberal government.
    As for Morrison, there will be little likelihood of favour nor financial hand-outs to be given to this State, instead it will be a given that minister Morrison will employ his influence to seek to reduce Federal government financial hand-out’s to this State’s upper echelon scheming brotherhood of bandits.
    For some extended period of years this State of Tasmania has not had any honest leadership citizen-representative incumbent Lib/Lab appointed toads to discontinue the tradition of avoiding the due obligation to serve the entirety of this State’s citizenry.
    I understand the major objective of either of the Lib/Lab appointee ministers is to fight to keep alive this State’s ministerial plotted sponsor role toward Tasmania’s major force of wanton destruction, namely the perennial loss-making woefully under-regulated GBE of Forestry Tasmania.

  4. mike seabrook

    December 23, 2015 at 10:15 am



    morrison will be tough

    what would people expect after the feds were duped by the tassie pollies into funding the $50million hunt for reynard the tassie fox

    he should ask for the $52 million to be paid back

  5. Robin Charles Halton

    December 22, 2015 at 7:31 pm

    #12 William, agree the Three Capes Great Escape well actually I think it is only applies to Two Capes so far where initially the Labor government started the relentless spending spree which now has escalated to new heights under the current Liberal Government.

    There was a commitment to complete the project but the costly outcome would make heads roll.

    I think that we will find in future with what I would expect will be tough new measures by the Turnbull Government in the next budget which wont be pretty by any means.

    I have no idea where all of the TFA money has gone which should have carried through to Parks to manage the extra public land and road networks they were bestowed with under the terms of the Forest Agreement.

    Two Capes is enough although it would be nice to have a basic parking and overnight area for vehicles and hikers tents at the end of the road at Stormlea to facilitate the Cape Raoul trip and into Shipstern Bluff with some minor upgrades to the track network.

    I would expect that Federal Treasurer Scott Morrison will be tough when it comes to any more expenditure on the Capes project.

  6. Robin Charles Halton

    December 22, 2015 at 9:40 am

    I first came in contact with Kevin Kiernan as a Geomorphologist attached to the FPA Specialist Section.

    As I recall his sessions were valuable combining landforms and geological science into one when I was undertaking Forest Practices training way back about 25 years ago.

    I now admire his stance supporting a fair go for local bushwalkers to access their traditional areas for outdoors enjoyment.

    Parks should not start bullying tactics with local walkers, my wife and I are happy to become a part of a group (yet to be formed?) that may need to protest against unfairness regarding public land usage issues.

    In my opinion Parks and the Government have overly developed the Two capes section of the Tasman NP to the south of Fortesque Road. The area is being turned into a commercial tourism supermarket, crazy!

  7. William Boeder

    December 21, 2015 at 8:50 pm

    Can I say this is another explicit example of how this State is not governed or even bothered by the principles how State governments must abide by the writings held in the Australian Constitution.
    In my letter to Malcolm Turnbull I placed great emphasise on the anti-constitutional form of State governance, then of those among other governmental failings in this State of Tasmania.
    However it is far to soon to expect a reply to my letter, (let alone the lengthy detailed supplementary documents providing the details and evidence to support each of the people of Tasmania’s major contentions, perhaps a reply early in the new year of 2016.
    All responses will be offered to Tasmania’s most exemplary editor of news in this State of Tasmania, Mr Lindsay Tuffin.
    I will leave the discretion of publication on Tasmanian Times the responses to my letter sent on behalf of the Tasmanian citizenry.

  8. Robin Charles Halton

    December 21, 2015 at 7:37 pm

    There is an interesting letter to the Editor in the Mercury on Monday 21st December.

    “Park the BMW by the yoga mat”

    Photo in colour shows LUXURY: Kitchen and dining area at Munro Hut on the Three Capes Track

    Over $30 million has been wasted on the Three Capes luxury hut and linking paths, a project designed to lock tourists into planned, multiday, commercial monopoly enterprise, rather than facilitating day trips to return nightly for accomodation with existing local businesses.

    Previous cheap public access by normal bushwalkers is effectively curtailed by closure of campsites and provision of one dark, dank and lumpy campsite, located downstream from where effluent is discharged from one of the new mini hotels, and sufficiently distant from scenic features as to inhibit intrusion by local walkers into the domain of paying customers.

    The only alternative for locals is to pay the high fees the government hopes to extract from the yoga mat and BMW fraternity.

    Other campsites used by bushwalkers are being closed under the pretence it is being done in the name of environmental protection, highlighting how the Government considers protecting the access of mere locals to public land, and safeguarding the environment they have long enjoyed, doesn’t warrant the expense.

    The duplicity of the Government’s punitive concern for environmental protection and the legitimate activities of real bushwalkers is more evident from the fact millions have are poured into the unnecessary Three Capes project, but infrastructure and management elsewhere in our national parks appear to have been abandoned.

    Kevin Kiernan
    Fern Tree.

  9. Alexander Burless

    December 20, 2015 at 7:23 pm

    Of course wls is attempting to prevent the large numbers,they hope,of paying customers from trashing the locality so;construction of huts is an essential.

    What i object to is The massive 500$ access to a public recreation area,and the opening of it to a continuous stream of softend bush walkers.Rather like a minor functionary in one of the mainland states whose idea was to build an above ground access system to scenic beauties.Effortless of course.

  10. Pilko

    December 20, 2015 at 1:55 pm

    Three Capes grand theft.

    So much for the sharing economy, so much for not locking up Tasmania.

    The public will not stand for it.

  11. mike seabrook

    December 19, 2015 at 7:43 pm

    what says the lab-greens

    what says the hobart walking club

  12. Dylan Halfacre

    December 19, 2015 at 6:47 pm

    #4 No it’s not, it’s about condoning breaking the rules of it suits your agenda and values while publicly crucifying others for doing the same thing, and that is the height of hypocrisy.

  13. Max Edelweiss

    December 19, 2015 at 6:09 pm

    Vis a vis “Give us walkers what we want, or else we’ll trash the joint!”

  14. Doug Nichols

    December 19, 2015 at 3:13 pm

    Good point Dylan, #3. I for one would not condone “bashing out” a campsite anywhere. Poor choice of words, one would hope!

    That aside, though, the comparison with the 4WD situation doesn’t really hold up when you look at the details. The $500 fee is absurdly high. There should be camping platforms at the hut sites for people who want to organise their own walk. The fee in that case should be substantially lower. That would create a good feeling in the Tasmanian walking community, instead of the current feeling that the area has been privatised at our expense.

  15. Ted Mead

    December 19, 2015 at 1:12 pm

    #3 – It’s about going to a public place without having major impacts.

    Anyone can walk south of Sandy Cape because if they do the impacts are minimal.

  16. Dylan Halfacre

    December 19, 2015 at 10:26 am

    “Civil disobedience should prevail”
    Like off road users driving the tracks from Sandy Cape to Pieman Heads?

  17. Su Chan

    December 17, 2015 at 10:05 pm

    I can guarantee that there will be civil disobedience. Why should ordinary Tasmanians who have enjoyed this magnificent location for decades suddenly be denied access, handed a single choice of a third-rate campsite, or have to pay an extortionate rate to access a National Park?

    I can absolutely guarantee that what will happen is free-minded walkers will simply bash out campsites wherever it pleases them. That they will be forced to do so by PWS closing other campsites and harassing them is an act of environmental vandalism not by them, but by Parks who have created this exact situation in an attempt to squeeze out everyone but the rich tourists and milk them for as much money as possible.

    As a taxpayer, I have already paid for this upgrade, and I do not mind paying a reasonable amount to use it, but $500 (more than double Overlander’s fee, and there is no off-peak rate) is in no way reasonable.

  18. Linda Peters

    December 16, 2015 at 11:58 pm

    Tax payers pay for highways too which then have tolls placed upon them. What is the problem with users paying for the privelidge of using the track and the funds returned to the tax payer?

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