Walkers urged to help protect sensitive remote bushwalking tracks
The Tasmania Parks and Wildlife Service (PWS) is calling on bushwalkers to register their intention to undertake overnight walks in some of the State’s most remote and pristine locations.
The past year has seen unprecedented demand on bushwalking tracks throughout the state because of interstate and international border restrictions.
Many tracks, including the Western Arthurs and Lake Rhona have experienced a doubling of visitation. As a result, the PWS is extending its trial of a voluntary registration system to manage daily departures and protect these fragile remote bushwalking environments.
A new online registration system will also make it much easier for walkers to register.
Camping outside designated nodes adversely impacts the sensitive vegetation, some of which are rare in Australia and which can take decades to recover.
Two examples from the 2021 summer included a night with 50 walkers at Lake Rhona, and 40 walkers at High Moor in the Western Arthur Range. Both resulted in noticeable impacts to vegetation, new campsites being formed, trail braiding (which creates a path next to designated trail through people walking off-track) and inappropriate toileting.
Many sites do not have capacity to accommodate additional overnight walkers due to the terrain and remote location, and by managing the number of walkers starting each day it will help ensure walkers remain within the designated campsites available.
By camping on an undesignated site, walkers may be causing damage to the environment. We must preserve these remote walking tracks for generations to come.
The PWS recently reopened the iconic Federation Peak along Farmhouse Creek Track to the remote summit in the Eastern Arthur Range with a daily departure registration system, which has ensured campers do not exceed camping and platform spaces.
This registration system has been well accepted by walkers and has provided PWS with a clear understanding of the demand to undertake this very difficult walk.
Walkers who register are also provided with important safety and minimal impact bushwalking information ahead of their trip. This includes details about the difficulty of the walk, a list of the designated campsites, and other considerations they should factor in ahead of their departure.
The extended registration system will soon open for those who wish to undertake walks to Lake Rhona and Western Arthur Range (Moraine A, with walkers also able to camp at Promontory Lake with the option of a return walk to West Portal). All walkers must exit the range via Moraine K, as the range is closed east of West Portal, due to track works on the Eastern Arthur Range Traverse to reduce the risk of further spread of Phytophthora cinnamomi (rootrot fungus). Once these works are complete, the full Western Arthur Range Traverse will be reopened (aiming for late autumn 2022).
For Lake Rhona the daily cap is 20 walkers, and for Mt Anne Circuit, Western Arthurs and Farmhouse Creek the daily cap is 12 walkers.
The PWS implemented a walker registration system for overnight walks including the Walls of Jerusalem, Frenchmans Cap (Vera and Tahune Hut sites), Pine Valley Hut site, New Pelion Hut via Arm River, Waterfall Valley camping platform and Scott Kilvert Memorial Hut in June 2020 to comply with COVID-19 Safe Plans and contact tracing requirements. This registration system will remain in place for these sites over the summer season to continue to comply with COVID-19 safety.
The free registration system has proved successful in managing numbers to keep people safe in these national parks. The new online system will make registration much easier with the ability to amend dates if personal circumstances change.
For details see Overnight walker registration.