Lake Judd track recovery work contractors
PWS staff with Living Trails Australia - Lake Judd Track, Southwest National Park (photograph: Chris West)

Post fire track recovery

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​Mountains to climb​​

Tasmania has so many mountains to climb and some of them are tougher and take longer than others!

The bushfires of 2018-19 extensively burnt 212, 000 hectares of our national parks, with large scale damage sustained to much loved bushwalking tracks and remote roads.

First step - safe roads

Considerable damage to kilometres of roads - many, many fences, bridges, culverts, signposts resulted from the fires. First came the massive task of assessing damage to roads and identifying dangerous roadside trees to be felled. The distance of roads and road tributaries that were identified as needing assessment was 1600 km, more than 8 times the distance of Launceston to Hobart.

More than a year later the ongoing effort continues - to repair the priority roads, bridges and assets that were significantly damaged during the fires. Tasmanian contractors have been awarded the contract to undertake the localised repairs to rutting and drainage, and removal of burnt vegetation. Clear Hill Road is the focus of efforts for now, with the Florentine, West Picton, and Weld to follow. 

Funded through the Fire Recovery Fund and managed by the PWS Fire Recovery team, the road work will ensure these treasured areas are once again accessible to the community. This road repair work will assist industries such as tourism and beekeeping, whilst providing an important economic stimulus for Tasmanian businesses. 

Second step – safe tracks

Assessment of the damage that was sustained to 117km of walking tracks is well underway and repair works have commenced, with trackworkers braving recent snowy conditions. The work includes demolition and removal of burnt track and fallen vegetation which pose a risk for visitors, and rebuilding the track using a mixture of timber, gravel and rock.

Track reconstruction contracts have been recently awarded - with four out of the five going to Tasmanian businesses and one going to the Tasmanian branch of a mainland company.

Track work will be funded through the Fire Recovery Fund and a Wildcare Wild Bushwalking Tracks.

Local timber growers will supply more than 25 000 linear metres of treated pine timber to reconstruct burned walking track infrastructure. The timber will be used to construct boardwalks, bridges and thousands of steps across the Southwest National Park. Work is underway at Lake Judd Track, with crews using hand tools and minor power tools to remove the burnt timber boardwalk, steps and water bars (these divert water off the track), and rebuilding more than 3 km of timber planking, over 200 steps and 14 bridges.

From September, two contractor crews will tackle rebuilding one of the most challenging walking tracks in the state – Mount Anne.  Here the first four kilometre section from the Condominium Creek trailhead to High Camp Hut will require more than 500 metres of timber planking, 1600 steps and 400 water bars to be rebuilt.

Large amounts of materials are required for the works. More resilient track materials such as rock and gravel will also be used to repair over 100 kilometres of track and road infrastructure. In some environments particularly in wet and boggy areas and in very steep sections, the use of treated pine remains the best option.

Due to the remote location of the works being carried out, the timber and materials will be transported by helicopter longline to the tracks. Tasmania’s famous weather can mean delays of up to a week are commonplace.

Stay up to date

The PWS website alerts​ page shows all closed tracks and is regularly updated noting re-opened tracks.

Both Clear Hill and Florentine roads, and the Lake Judd, Mount Anne, McKay and Farmhouse Creek tracks are expected to reopen this summer.

The Parks and Wildlife Service would like to thank the Tasmanian community for your patience.  We wish you safe walking when you climb Tasmania’s magnificent mountains.​

Published 19/08/2020