Tasmanian Times

Adventure and Wilderness

The Burning of the Tahune Airwalk

The destruction of the Tahune Airwalk and the burning of the southern forests is a classic case of the risks of building commercial tourism assets within fire dependent/prone native vegetation.

The Tahune Airwalk is now a liability to Tasmanian taxpayers.

The tall trees and tall forest that were the attraction at Tahune are now dead.

And what about the magnificent Huon pines growing along the Huon River?

One assumes they are now dead also.

Tourists wont be going back to Tahune any time soon. All of the natural attractions are now gone.

The company that owns the Airwalk will declare bankruptcy and walk away, leaving a mess for Tasmanian taxpayers to clean up.


What other existing and planned tourism assets in Tasmanian public forest risk a similar fate?

The Mt Wellington Cable Car is certainly in the firing line – pun intended!

All of these developments pose a significant financial risk to Tasmanian taxpayers.

The Tahune Airwalk is just the first of many liabilities that await us in a hotter, drier future.


Gordon Bradbury is a long time resident of Tasmania and close observer of the local political and business classes

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


  1. Bruce

    April 5, 2019 at 10:25 am

    Given the uncertainties expressed by even the informed commenters here, surely the refocusing of the Tahune as a research and tourism education facility is an opportunity that should not be wasted. Those informed by experience and those motivated by intuition may be able to learn from scientific research.

  2. Rob Halton

    March 18, 2019 at 10:50 pm

    The rebuilding of the Tahune Airwalk should be a priority project to get the tourists rolling again into the Arve Valley forests after the bush fires.

    The State government should not hesitate because the bush is blackened it now becoming a far too common scene here in Tasmania, get used to it and enjoy the natural outdoor forest scenery

    It will recover within certain limits to facilitate some commercial harvesting probably no longer waiting for high quality sawlogs from the preexisting regrowth, never the less the forest landscape itself will green up to cover up the severe fire damage, at least tourists will be able to enjoy the forest landscapes.

    • MJF

      March 19, 2019 at 1:25 pm

      There will be much top consider here prior to a relaunch. Such a engineering reports, risk assessments, ongoing public risk from falling limbs etc, who pays for what and then actually getting repairs done. Agree it could be an experience in its own right to walk amongst the burnt canopies. Personally I think a total rebuild will be required if at all. Burnt steel is generally determined to be unsafe. I expect a hint of greenery is returning already.

  3. John Hawkins

    March 17, 2019 at 5:26 pm

    Davey street is the home of the appalling Abetz.

    This is very much an Abetzian Green-hating rant.

    My experience of the Green movement is that it is made up of intelligent thinking human beings who understand that we are fouling our own nest, and that someone has to do something or we are all doomed.

    The world cannot sustain a billion new people every 10 years raping the planet of its resources.

    Brain-dead right wing Fascists who have engineered a meal ticket for life have to be brought to heel.

  4. davey street

    March 17, 2019 at 12:06 pm

    What a load of grossly exaggerated Green propaganda. You are so typical of the Greens. The forests belong to YOU and not US is your mantra. If Brown had stayed in Sydney where he came from in the 1970s Tassie forests would have decent and extensive fire trails criss crossing the state LIKE EVERY OTHER HEAVILY WOODED AREA WHERE HUMANS LIVE THROUGHOUT THE WORLD and private land would have been cleared of flammable vegetation so that fires WHICH HAVE BEEN RECURRING FOR MILLENNIA AND HAVE NOTHING TO DO WITH CLIMATE CHANGE would be at least be more easily contained. You Greens and your deluded with grandeur obsessions are RESPONSIBLE FOR THE FOREST DESTRUCTION because fire fighters can never penetrate the forests to extinguish the fires. It’s ironic that so many Greens live in the Huon.

    • Rob Halton

      March 18, 2019 at 7:06 am

      davey street, one can only blame the loony left Green leaning Labor Party under the idealistic former control freak Premier Lara Giddings for cradling the fairy tale Peace Talks resulting in the Tas Forest Agreement legislation 2013 which has effectively broken up large consolidated areas of State Forest into what we were lead to believe to be to be Reserves for nature and wildlife to thrive untouched by the further hand of man along with bringing peace among the community!

      Any bloody fool living in this epoch of increased wild fire activity has now left open the destruction of our wonderful State Forests along with the Reserves too as wanton wild fire destruction will continue to reign over the land.

      Unfortunately Forestry is now only a small part of the States fire fighting force, the back burning Fire Service blacking everything in its path along with the fantasy land Parks who in particular hesitated to extinguish the Riveaux fire in its early stages has left the States trust with its fire fighting ability in tatters.

      I think we are witnessing the end of the tall forests as we once knew them as the wet forest regrowth no longer stands a chance due to too early a harvest for timber, on the other end of the scale fire fire has penetrated into the alpine forests leaving scrub fire induced rainforest to take over.

      We have learnt nothing since 1967 about fire protection in heavily timbered country, now left in doubt by the absence of forestry leadership leaving it to the
      the guess work of the inexperienced totally out of their depth Fire Service and of course the ill prepared Parks and Wildlife Service run by Greenies who would prefer fires continue to burn to take their natural course.

      Ongoing conflict among the the fire agencies has created an enormous financial burden on our State as differences in fire fighting techniques still continue to haunt us, despite all of the fancy modern equipment available, we are still stuck with poor decisions with regards to initial fire suppression activity!

      Any Inquiry will be covered up by the State government as we will be meant to forget what happened during the 2018-19 fire season, the same goes for any future subsequent wild fire event(s)!

      Let her burn baby burn and shut the hell up about it!

  5. Chris

    February 10, 2019 at 11:39 am

    “The Mt Wellington Cable Car is certainly in the firing line – pun intended! All of these developments pose a significant financial risk to Tasmanian taxpayers.”

    The cable car can be stopped by putting in a cable car (like San Francisco’s?) on the roadway up and down. The view would be the same, and it would accommodate passing lanes and not interfere with cars.

    Perhaps the Grinner could be better employed as a brake man!

    How many Federal Tasmanian seats would be gained if Morriscum pays for the fire .. one, or none?

  6. MjF

    February 7, 2019 at 11:54 am

    “I suggest that a such callous action could come through desperate politics, or people like deranged FPOs who despise conservation and conservationists, or even those seeking an insurance claim on poor quality plantations.”

    Nicely deflected Mr Mead, although I remain unconvinced your reasons behind hard-line conservationists not stooping to this behaviour are in any way valid, particularly with the inflammatory statements you regularly present being seen as grist for the mill by some wayward, indoctrinated and publicity seeking Green zealots.

  7. Rob Halton

    February 6, 2019 at 11:20 pm

    MJF, I can clearly recall in Southport forest block a year or two after 1967 fires, APM at Port Huon were accepting pulpwood from fire killed eucalypt regrowth stands once the blackened bark had peeled off the bole of the standing trees,
    Similar salvage operations took place at Lidgerwood and within Franklin forest blocks up to three to four years after 1967.

    Could similar circumstances create a massive program of one off salvage of fire killed HWP;s and native forest areas . Saw log rich and peeler rich areas of native regrowth would need to be harvested immediately to avoid down grade to pulp quality wood caused by wood borers infestation;.

    There is no doubt wood cutting operations will follow the fires in conjunction with timber salvage operations.
    I would not be surprised that the government should allow by legislation, salvage from sawlog and peeler rich areas recently removed from State Forest into Reserves well knowing that the long term intention was to manage such land for production forests.

    Forget the Peace talks as they never happened, much of it was pure nonsense initially instigated by Labor and the Greens, the truth is now is unfolding as a major disaster for the forest industry after the 2019 fires.

  8. MJF

    February 6, 2019 at 12:51 pm

    There’ll be some difficult decisions to be made by the STT board coming up, regarding advanced age, now burnt plantations. Not the least of which will be how to cover wages and contractor costs.

    What is the net loss of wood and value shelled out by Global Forest Partners in 2017 ?

  9. Tom Nilsson

    February 6, 2019 at 12:11 pm

    Why isn’t the tourism industry saying more about the fires?

    A lot of people visit Tasmania to see its trees and wilderness areas. A lot of bushwalkers are going to be put off, either by the current fire danger and park/road closures, or by the burnt out scenery.

  10. Rob Halton

    February 6, 2019 at 9:50 am

    Yes I agree with Stu that the large OG Obls will survive the fire and flourish providing green cover along the river and forested surrounds.
    We should see the emergence of sillver wattle and blackwood from ground stored seed as well. In years past I had observed large blackwoods growing under the old growth in the Warra forest block during logging back in the early 1970’s!

    The tourism amenity should reopen within the next year or so, despite the fire ravaged forests along the entry point the Arve Road network from Geeveston that should provide the opportunity for observing both fire damaged and regenerated eucalypts within the native forests areas along the route.

    The greater concern will be dealing with the nature of extensive severely fire damaged / fire killed eucalypt plantation areas bordering the forests throughout the Huon forests!

    Stu, based on your Victorian forestry experiences with forest wildfires, what do you think re Hardwood plantation outcomes.

    • Stu

      February 6, 2019 at 11:59 am

      I haven’t seen how E.nitens responds to high intensity fire in Vic but I suspect it may be similar to E.regnans, with death followed by even aged regen.

      Burnt plantations down south will no doubt be too young to have any significant seed fall post fire. About all that can be done is windrowing and replanting at great expense.

      As you know, the charcoal makes it unsaleable as pulpwood. If there was some decent native forest adjacent then it could be allowed to regenerate back to native forest.

      • Ted Mead

        February 6, 2019 at 12:40 pm

        Well, I suspect the nitens and globulus plantations subject to the Riveaux fire got heavily torched, and in my view that’s probably staved off another consideration for a chip mill in the south for some time.

        How will STT, in its usual style, write up its forest assets this year to fudge their figures when they apparently have lost a great deal of production forests?

        Fires such as these will become common-fare in Tasmania in the near future, which is just another nail into the coffin of the insidious wood chip industry.

        When a big firestorm sweeps through the north, taking all the plantations in its wake, the industry will be dead.

        The government and the industry don’t have a plan to deal with such an impending scenario, and when it happens they will be crying to get back into what remaining unburnt areas survive.

        Regardless of how you look at it, albeit ecological or economical, it is a disaster, and one of anthropocentric making.

        • MJF

          February 6, 2019 at 2:35 pm

          “Fires such as these will become common-fare in Tasmania in the near future, which is just another nail into the coffin of the insidious wood chip industry. When a big firestorm sweeps through the north, taking all the plantations in its wake, the industry will be dead.”

          With that kind of insight, would there be enough incentive to turn some left-leaning people into serial arsonists, Ted ?

          • Ted Mead

            February 7, 2019 at 6:49 am

            Four your information, arson is an illness, and generally not used to take political action.

            There are reasons why conservationists would avoid this tactic.

            Tasmania is besotted with the insidious woodchip industry. To wipe out plantations would only create more pressure on native forests as available resources.

            Anybody with a personal connection to nature and wildlife would never consider destroying any form of forest biota.

            What would it take for those leaning to the right to become a serial arsonist?

            I suggest hat a such callous action could come through desperate politics, or people like deranged FPOs who despise conservation and conservationists, or even those seeking an insurance claim on poor quality plantations.

  11. Stu

    February 5, 2019 at 1:58 pm

    Ted, E.obliqua will survive a crown fire.

    The forests around Kinglake in Vic suffered complete crown removal on Black Saturday. In the years since, I’ve observed forest recovery as I tour around with a forester mate who has a similar interest. E.obliqua has an amazing capacity to recover, even from crown fire. What does kill them is large fuel loads around the base of the tree which provide sufficient burn time and heat to kill the cambium layer under the thick bark.

    E.regnans and E.delegatensis are a different story. Most areas burnt on Black Saturday resulted in the complete death of entire stands of these species. The result now is an even aged forest of thick regeneration under the dead stags of the previous even aged forest.

  12. Stu

    February 5, 2019 at 10:07 am

    Gordon, while I haven’t been to Tahune, I suspect the large eucs are E.obliqua. In that case they are highly likely to recover in a relatively short time frame, just as they did in Victoria after Black Saturday.

    To say they are dead and Tahune is finished may be a little too early to call.

    • Ted Mead

      February 5, 2019 at 12:57 pm

      Yes, it’s difficult to know at this stage what sections of forest burnt from that Riveaux fire will survive. Even some of the big old regnans that survived in the past until now previously had wildfire beneath them last century.

      Possibly the tall forest around the Arve loop that was subjected to intense fire condition on that hot day may perish. Without an intense crown fire many trees appear to survive such fires, particularly obliqua which has a thick insulation layer outside the capillary layer.

  13. Russell

    February 5, 2019 at 9:10 am

    The Tahune airwalk was an FT scam of public money.

    • Ted Mead

      February 5, 2019 at 12:58 pm

      Russell, not just the Tahune installation. Essentially everything that irresponsible GBE corporation touched was a scam of public money.

      Southwood didn’t fare that well in the fire, and the power transmission line that was installed and owned by FT was supplied through taxpayers $$$. They may have to rebuild that again, and guess who will pay for it?

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