Post fires – track recovery is well underway with Mount Anne milestone reached
Tasmania's trackworkers are a hardy bunch, working through the winter and spring snows, enduring strong gales to rebuild kilometres of walking tracks. A typical shift sees crew camping remotely for up to nine days, working in dramatically changing weather with winds up to 160km/hr and harsh temperatures that range from subzero to a sweltering 30 degrees.
The main focus for the past fifteen months has been Lake Judd and Mount Anne Tracks with three contractor teams rebuilding over 5 km of timber planking, 20 bridges, about 4000 steps and 400 waterbars. They are on target to have these two tracks, which form the bookends to the challenging 34 km Mount Anne Circuit, open on the 13th of December 2021.
To protect this landscape, a registration system is in place for multi-day walkers. Overnight walker registrations are now open for walkers undertaking the Mount Anne Circuit and camping at Shelf Camp and Lonely Tarns. The daily departure cap for this higher country is 12. Toilets are now provided at both locations, as well as tent platforms at Lonely Tarns.
Day walkers to Mount Eliza, Lake Judd, or the very long day walk to Mount Anne do not need to register.
Slow steady work
Rebuilding to the Australian Standards has meant a focus on drainage and comfortable step heights, to ensure a better walking experience and that the track is durable for many decades to come. There have also been environmental benefits with vegetation regrowth along the track edges in places where it had previously been trampled due to trail braiding.
A $150,000 grant from Wildcare's Wild Bushwalking Tracks fund has added a kilometre of timber-planking across the buttongrass plains below Lake Judd. The funding has also enabled PWS to install tent platforms at Lonely Tarns, and toilets at Shelf Camp and Lonely Tarns, to help protect these fragile environments.
The clearing of burnt, fallen and hazardous vegetation on McKays and Huon Tracks will continue through summer, with the aim to have both these tracks reopened in autumn 2022.
Boost for local business
The expenditure of nearly $4.7 million in the Tasmanian economy has generated an estimated 39 FTE across the sectors involved, notably in construction, transport, forestry, mining, retail and administration.
The Parks and Wildlife Service has contracted 24 Tasmanian businesses to supply everything from treated timber, metal plates, chicken wire, bugle screws, gravel, fibre-reinforced polymer sheeting and tent platforms. Two helicopter companies have been vital in ensuring a steady supply of materials for the track work teams. Tasmania's famous “four seasons in one day" weather has meant delays of up to a week have been common.
Fungus underfoot – don't spread it
The burnt ground has exposed a not so welcome change, and it has brought new challenges. Unfortunately, Phytophthora cinnamomi (rootrot fungus) has been confirmed to be spreading in three sites along the Eastern Arthurs Range Traverse, including the Cracroft Plains and Strike Creek.
To protect the landscape and outstanding environmental values of the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area - it is essential to limit any spread of this fungus.
Works to rebuild nearly 4 km of tracks in the Eastern Arthurs will commence in December, with the aim of completing the works by late autumn 2022, for this section to reopen. There will be extended sections of hardened track, and several major realignments planned, to prevent further spread of Phytophthora within the Eastern and Western Arthur Ranges and adjacent valleys.
The Cracroft Crossing campsite was ravaged by fire, and is now surrounded by Phytophthora infected ground, so is no longer a suitable site. An alternative campsite (within 200 metres) provides shelter from prevailing winds, proximity to a water source and is well-drained. It will be ready when the track reopens.
Closed means closed!
Walkers please play your part by not entering closed tracks, for biosecurity and safety reasons. You can minimise the spread of the fungus and help to ensure these areas are conserved for future generations.
A complete list of track closures and a map, can be found on the Alerts web page. Walkers found breaching these closures will be subject to heavy fines.
The Parks and Wildlife Service would like to thank the Tasmanian walking community for your patience. Our teams are on track - working hard, making good progress and we look forward to tracks reopening in the coming months.
Mount Anne Track (including Mount Eliza), Lake Judd Track, Mount Anne Circuit – 13 December 2021
Huon Track, McKays Track – autumn 2022
Eastern Arthur Range Traverse – late autumn 2022
Western Arthur Range Traverse (north/east of West Portal) – late autumn 2022
When opening dates are confirmed they will appear on the Overnight walker registration page.
Be well prepared
Walking in remote, alpine country requires a high level of experience and planning, see Safety in parks.