Tasmanian Times

The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. If you try it, you will be lonely often, and sometimes frightened. No price is too high for the privilege of owning yourself. ~ Friedrich Nietzsche

The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. If you try it, you will be lonely often, and sometimes frightened. No price is too high for the privilege of owning yourself. ~ Friedrich Nietzsche


Scenery mining versus national park management

Bushwalkers wading through swampy ground on Lake Judd track, Southwest National Park, with foundation stumps of old duck-board walkway in foreground.

Lake Judd track, Southwest National Park, with foundation stumps of old duck-board walkway in foreground.

Neglected and overgrown walking track, SWNP.

Remnant duck-boarding swamped by scrubby undergrowth on Lake Judd track, SWNP

EXPENSIVE NEW TRACKS TO FACILITATE “SCENERY MINING”: Over-engineered and very expensive Three Capes Track, en route to Cape Huay

Premier Will Hodgman and tourism advocate Luke Martin seem to think the damage caused by the current fires to the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area (TWWHA) is not that bad because the money-making bits like the Overland Track haven’t been burnt.

That pretty much sums up their attitude to our protected areas. Other symptoms of that attitude include the priorities adopted by the state government when it comes to managing our parks, one example of this being track maintenance.

Over the years a very substantial amount of Australian taxpayers’ money has been invested in management of the TWWHA, including establishment of walking tracks that both facilitate tourist access and protect the environment. Such infrastructure has helped generate millions of dollars to the Australian tourist industry through the many companies that already operate around or within Tasmania’s parks.

But frustrated in its attempts to continue clear-felling of forests and mining of wilderness areas, the greenie-hating Tasmanian state government is now promoting commercial tourism developments that are inappropriate in scale, type and location within areas set aside for the primary purpose of nature conservation.

And the huge sums being spent on these “scenery mining” developments are apparently leaving insufficient funds available to properly manage and maintain other existing parks including the TWWHA., thereby wasting the money we taxpayers have already spent on them.

For example, many millions of dollars of federal and state funds have recently been poured into the new Three Capes development, involving luxury huts linked by an outrageously over-engineered multi-day track system designed to ultimately lock users into the arms of a single track concessionaire rather than to spread the money by facilitating day walks from various existing accommodation providers elsewhere on Tasman Peninsula.

One further cost of this folly is that there now appears to be insufficient funds to properly maintain infrastructure in the TWWHA and elsewhere, for which we meaningless taxpayers have already paid.

For example, duck-board walkways previously constructed in the TWWHA to prevent erosion and churning of soft soils under walkers’ feet, and to provide easier walking, are being allowed to fall into disrepair.

All the good that was originally achieved is now being wasted.

Only the footings of some of these structures now remain at some sites in the Southwest National Park, where the ground is being churned anew. Some sections of track are becoming overgrown to the extent that even remnant sections of duck-boarding are now sometimes barely discernible beneath the scrub, in stark contrast to the over-engineered rock steps and pathways at Three Capes, where it appears money is no object.

While real bushwalkers take such inconveniences as mud and scrub in their stride, and do not require the sort of fussy over-priced garden paths on which so much money is being wasted at Three Capes, this failure to properly manage key park assets already existing elsewhere in our parks system is a grossly irresponsible waste of the taxpayers’ funds previously invested.

The Tasmanian government is now expecting Australian taxpayers to fund an expansion of its Three Capes development to include additional up-market development at presently intact Cape Raoul.

But rather than compounding the damage being done to our other parks as a result of its obsession with its Three Capes fad, any funds the Tasmanian government has available or may seek to obtain from we hapless Australian taxpayers to pursue its ambition to extend the Three Capes fiasco, or for its other inane cargo-cult schemes for inappropriate developments at the expense of our nation’s heritage, should instead be re-directed into making good the damage already caused by its neglect of everywhere else.

*Kevin Kiernan is a sixth generation Tasmanian who has spent most of his life poking around in wilderness areas, mountains and caves on seven continents, in both personal and professional capacities. A geomorphologist by training, he recently retired from the University of Tasmania, where he had researched and taught Conservation Geomorphology and also a unit on the Geography and Environment of Asia. In his earlier life he worked as an environmental campaigner and then as a national park planner, before spending 14 years in the Tasmanian forest practices system. He is currently doing a fairly poor job of attempting to learn to be a retired gentleman.

EARLIER on Tasmanian Times by Kevin Kiernan …

Palm oil pollution and pyro politics

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


  1. Ted Mead

    February 16, 2016 at 4:32 pm

    #6 Steve – The Port Davey Track was well aligned and benched where possible, but still has many sections in low lying wet areas. Yes – the re-route from Spring River to Bathurst Narrows is a clear display of poor track development. It was cut by Milford Fletcher, (I think before the region became a National Park) – and in all practical sense the track should have been contoured around the slopes heading south.

    In the past, tracks were often cut in straight lines in a somewhat direct route from A to B.
    ‘Linear Milford’ (as I call him) made a living out of such practices. This is attested to through his roller-coaster routes over the South Cape Range, and the dreaded YoYo Huon Track.

    Although PWS have invested numerous resources into appropriate track development, the wheels still seem to fall off things when politics get involved!!!!!!

    I’m sure if Milford was still around he would have been contracted to survey the 3 Capes Track, which would be in consistency with the entire poorly planned project, that has a few unnecessary ascent and descents that could have been avoided. Further more the cliff section of the proposed western extension of the 3 Capes Track leading from Maingon Bay to Cape Raoul will display some more loopy and desperate track development I suspect!!!!!!! –

    Not to mention the construction of a track directly beneath an active Sea Eagles nest on the cliff edge, which will breach PWS’s Eagle Management Plan protocol. PWS signed off on the Sea Eagles re-Dick Smiths’ proposal at Crescent Bay, so we can expect the same for the 3 Capes extension.

  2. O'brien

    February 16, 2016 at 2:07 am

    Post # 13 is quite correct. The Two Capes track did not cost $60 000 000, that was the Fox Eradication fiasco. The two were concocted by …… at the very same time and bear many of the same fingerprints, hence the confusion. The Two Capes track is estimated from $33 000 000 upwards. We were told $12 000 000 from State treasury, $12 000 000 from the Commonwealth and $8 000 000 from the preferred private operator (yeah right, the cheque’s in the mail). We can’t really be sure of the final sums as our ….. refuses to release the true rubbery figures, as per standard procedure.

    It beggars belief …… hasn’t as yet received a call from the media wing of …. or perhaps ….. advising under no circumstances to engage with Tasmanian Times ‘troublemakers’ as per Tas Inc policy.

    The Tasmanian taxpayer can rest easy, sure in the knowledge no matter what filthy scam or conflagration is foisted upon them lining the pockets of Tas Inc chums there will be a surfeit of ‘pseudo-names’, ‘semi-obiquous profiles’ and ‘casing points’ to keep them distracted whilst their pockets are picked and our National Parks are sold at market for a mess of pottage by ignorant greed-heads. Just wait for the Gordon river jet-ski tours proposal.


  3. Simon Warriner

    February 15, 2016 at 7:56 pm

    Luke Martin, what the hell are you on about?

    psuedonames or semi-obiquous profiles,

    Casing point

    Try to get it right or give up all together, because your current efforts are embarrassing to watch. As a potential tourism industry participant I would expect a hell of a lot better from my representatives.

  4. john hayward

    February 15, 2016 at 5:30 pm

    I’m told that the 3 Capes highway will eventually end in front of a massive stone pedestel on which is inscribed:

    “I am Thuggolemagne, sav of savs
    Look on my works, ye greenies, and despair”

    John Hayward

  5. Luke Martin

    February 15, 2016 at 10:11 am

    I’m not sure who or what “Tas Inc” is supposed to be (does t refer to those who prefer to engage in the mainstream of public policy and debate in Tasmania, as opposed to those who sit on the fringes?) – but I do maintain my own policy of corresponding to misrepresentations when I see them. Under my own name.

    Unlike, I note, many of the contributors on Tasmanian Times who post usually factually warped rants under psuedonames or semi-obiquous profiles, “O’brien”.

    By the way, challenge set to find one piece of publicly reported information suggesting the Three Capes Track cost $60 million. You won’t. You’re wrong.

  6. Doug Nichols

    February 15, 2016 at 9:51 am

    Re #6, I get the point of your penultimate paragraph, Luke, especially the bit about creating more advocates, which I agree is a good idea.

    However, you repeated the somewhat stereotyped line that those of us who oppose the plans to develop the WHA oppose it because we think it should be the “exclusive domain of the hearty few who have the experience and physical capability to trek into these areas of their own accord”.

    That’s not the point. The point is that by building stuff in a wild place, we make it no longer wild. The wildness is a key character of Tasmania that people come to see, so it shouldn’t be compromised.

  7. Elizabeth O'Dwyer

    February 15, 2016 at 1:36 am

    Have you ever been to many of the tourist hot spots in Italy, France, Spain, Greece etc? Attracting tens of thousands of people to a wilderness area will simply degrade it and test the resources already there.
    Diversify, encourage people to truly learn about Tassie, it’s not just about spotting a quoll or a devil, enjoy the many great attributes of Tassie overall.

  8. O'brien

    February 15, 2016 at 1:12 am

    Post #6. raises a ‘Casing point’ ? Eight million dollars for infrastructure upgrades in our National Parks. What exactly that translates to on the ground is anyone’s guess. Most likely more free gifts (just like the $60 000 000 Two Capes track) for the …

    Additional screwing of grants/profits/filthy lucre from our taxes. It really is disturbing how a gang … now dictates policy for our National Parks. As post #5 points out, in my opinion, our NPWS upper management suite now resembles a dementia nursing facility for otherwise unemployable ancient hacks … produce nothing and facilitate the wholesale … of our National Parks. National Parks that only exist precisely because greed-head profiteers and other jackals and maybe foxes have been denied access. By definition that is what makes a National Park a National Park. The complete exclusion of greedy little men, their greedy little schemes and the terminal destruction of the very values National Parks exist to maintain.

    Now watch as the profiteers link their filthy grasping agendas with ‘fire management imperatives’. Since our NPWS has been culled of anyone willing to question insane agendas of destruction. As far as Tas Inc. is concerned anyone who dares question the agenda is obviously a rabid communist and should be locked up, the key thrown away.

    PS. (Perhaps Mr Martin didn’t read the memo circulated within Tas Inc. to never ever under any circumstances respond to or engage with Linz’ Tasmanian Times. To do so provides oxygen, gives validity to points raised and perhaps most importantly exposes Tas Inc. for the … they are).


  9. Steve

    February 14, 2016 at 10:25 pm

    #6; Not even going to bother replying. Sorry, was going to but I can tell when my powder is wasted.

    #2; Ted, not sure if you’ve walked down from where Lake Pedder used to be, down to Bathurst Narrows?
    The original track was laid out in the nineteenth century as an escape track for ship wrecked sailors bored of the amenities at Port Davey. It ran north from Joe Page Bay. The current track follows the original until it veers off to Bathurst Narrows. All the original track is properly surveyed, it follows contours, avoids dips and obvious bogs. As soon as you leave the original alignment to head to the Narrows, it all changes. Straight line alignment; down into the mud and up the other side. No thought of following the contour.
    What did Mr Innes know, all those years ago, that PWS doesn’t know now? They cut their track with pick axe and barrow!

  10. Pat Caplice

    February 14, 2016 at 10:16 pm

    Casing #6 Will you be standing for the Liberal Party, your party of $8 million generosity, at the next state election?

  11. Chris

    February 14, 2016 at 8:53 pm

    Good spin Luke …

  12. Luke Martin

    February 14, 2016 at 8:11 pm

    Rubbish and utterly offensive, Kevin.

    I’ve had a responsibility over the past few weeks to the many hundreds of Tasmanian businesses and their employees, whose livelihood relies upon visitation to the world heritage areas, to urge the media to accurately report the extent of damage to the world heritage areas caused by the current fire incident, and the impact it has had on the visitor experience in these areas,

    Some of the frankly outlandish media reports over the past couple of weeks comparing the fire impact on less than 2% of the total area of the TWWHA to the demise of the Thylacine for example, has the real potential to affect the reputation of the world heritage areas, which, in turn, will impact on our industry and the State.

    If you think i’m being melodramatic, I’ve had calls from tourism operators in Strahan reporting inquiries they’ve had from future guests wondering how badly the Gordon River has been affected by the fires and asking whether it is still worth visiting!

    Unlike some regular contributors on this forum, who think our world heritage areas should be the exclusive domain of the hearty few who have the experience and physical capability to trek into these areas of their own accord, we think the more people who come to Tasmania and are given a range of opportunities through low impact tourism, to experience these remarkable areas for themselves, the more people in the world there will be who become advocates for the conservation and management of the Tasmanian environment.

    This includes generating the political will for governments to invest in better infrastructure for all to enjoy these areas. Casing point being the $8 million in additional funding committed by the current government to upgrade urgent infrastructure needs across the parks and reserves.

  13. Catherine McNeill

    February 14, 2016 at 3:36 pm

    The PWS are severely top heavy with incompetent desk jockey’s who would have trouble working out which was the business end of a shovel. For years the hard working field officers and rangers that actually gave a damn , have been replaced by these very well paid educated idiots. No wonder things are falling apart.

  14. Simon Warriner

    February 14, 2016 at 3:14 pm

    Ted, in order to rid the public service of the incompetence you have so clearly spotlighted you need politicians who are capable of recognising the conflicted interests that allow that incompetence to be cultivated and tolerated, and removing them.

    Simple logic dictates that such an ability will never, ever, be in sufficient supply in a government made up of politicians whose first political act on the way to being elected is to conflict the interests of their constituents with those of their party organisation.

    Without addressing that very clear problem first, hoping for adequate oversight of our public service is little more than futility exemplified.

    ALL problems are leadership problems.

  15. Mike Bolan

    February 14, 2016 at 1:40 pm

    Looking at the 3 Capes track (Lennon inspired) and its multi-million expenditure in the context of a health system that takes years to treat a patient, a courts system that takes years to hear cases, an electrical supply system that is constantly at risk after years of ‘drought proofing’ etc., it becomes evident that Australian governments have the wrong priorities to create robust and sustainable societies.

    More the reverse I’d say.

    Human priorities include water supply (quality and quantity), food, medicines and health, transportation systems, infrastructures and so on. Yet too many of these are in bad shape while we pour money into loss making activities (forestry, fossil fuels, hunting for foxes etc) {they all start with ‘f’! Coincidence?}

    If our governments had priorities that actually matched social needs then they’d get elected more easily, Tasmania would be booming and we wouldn’t have all of these artificially created problems.

  16. Ted Mead

    February 14, 2016 at 11:41 am

    Kevin – the inane story behind the Lake Judd track goes like this!

    In the late 1980’s the Judd track was partly reconstructed as a result of Hydro contractors being re-employed from the proposed Gordon below Franklin dam.

    Subsequent to that, a large pile of duckboard materials was heli-dropped into the area relating to your first picture. When I was working in the Southwest as a Ranger I kept reminding the administration about these unused materials that lay there for over a decade, and to the fact that they should be installed to replace the dilapidating old boardwalk.

    Finally in an act of insanity PWS decided to heli-lift the materials out to use somewhere else. Then later to my amazement PWS then heli-transported staff into that area to dismantle the old boardwalk that spanned that boggy area because it was likely to cause an injury, and were probably paranoid about liability.

    The resulting scenario is – now you have walk through the bog, when in reality the boardwalk, even without replacing it with completely new materials could have been repaired by staff for a fraction of the cost of the heli-flights to get staff and the old materials out – complete incompetent administrative madness!!!!!!!

    As for the 3 Capes Track – Even more lunacy was displayed there!!!!!!!!!!

    The first section of the track construction from Fortescue Bay to Cape Huay was rushed in order to meet a deadline for federal politicians to inspect. To do this they had to begin trackwork before the management planned was approved, so they were committed to the poorly aligned route of the old track.

    A new line had already been surveyed which was gently graded to the top of the first rise. This meant that no steps were required. As a result of PWS mind-boggling incompetence, approximately 700 unwarranted rock -steps were constructed at a cost of several hundred thousand dollars, which ultimately created a more arduous walk. The construction was overseen by a PWS track manager who had never been involved in any track construction before.!!!!!

    And of course when the pollies finally flew in from the big smoke they only walked up the track a little way, and never experiences the stairway to hell.

    Countless follies of poor track alignment, overwidth and unsuitable/ expensive materials continued across the route.

    There was simply money to burn with an open check-book prevailing as National Park management continued to retrograde at a great rate of knots!!!!

    The ‘Keep the Capes Wild Group’ track proposal would have provided a much simpler and scenic route at a cost of tens of $millions less.

    And still the bunch of clueless, bumbling bozo’s want $ millions more of taxpayers funds to complete the last leg of the 2.9 Capes Lemon!!!!!!

    Ultimately the Lib/Labs should channel PWS into becoming another GBE, that way it would at least be consistent with the incompetence, deficits and secrecy of the other state government enterprises.

    One could have nightmares thinking about this!!!!!!

  17. Pete Godfrey

    February 14, 2016 at 9:50 am

    I think that we learnt those lessons at primary school. We were taught that putting all your eggs in one basket was not good a good insurance policy.
    I too the over the top trackwork on the three capes track shocking. This track could have had short lead in and out tracks that went to existing towns and existing accommodation in the Port Arthur area. The track could have been much simpler and cheaper to build. Leaving out the ugly hamlets that are now the exclusive accommodation areas.
    I shudder when I think of what the new proposed private huts will look like.
    Glad to know that you are learning to be retired and that now you can say what you think without fear of retribution Kevin.

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