The Tasmania Parks and Wildlife Service (PWS) is calling on the community to plan ahead this Easter and school holiday period by registering for popular overnight walks, having a Plan B if their chosen walk is at capacity and following walker safety guidelines.
PWS introduced a free registration system for popular overnight walks last year to ensure visitor numbers are capped to meet COVID-19 safe practices and make sure walkers on the track do not exceed the available campsites and huts and can maintain physical distancing.
These overnight walks include Frenchmans Cap, Walls of Jerusalem, Pine Valley, Arm River Track, Cradle Mountain walkers staying at Scott-Kilvert Memorial Hut, and the Overland Track.
Registration is now up and running for the newly reopened Farmhouse Creek Track, which should only be attempted by well-prepared walkers who are very experienced in remote area bushwalking. The number of walkers is capped at six people per day, due to the difficult terrain and limited camping capacity at high, alpine locations.
These limits are primarily to manage environmental impact given that through walks around the Eastern Arthur ranges are unable to be re-opened at this stage due to the presence of Phyto ph thora, otherwise known as dieback. Assessments are underway and planning is being done to find alternative routes that will prevent further spread of this soil-borne disease.
Tasmania's parks and reserves have proved to be a drawcard for people holidaying at home and interstate travellers exploring the state's spectacular green spaces.
The walker registration system not only helps PWS to protect the community, but also the environment. The registration systems tells both the PWS and visitors when a walk is full and helps to manage numbers.
Several Instagram images posted in recent months have significantly increased the popularity of many remote walks and PWS needs to act now to protect them.
As fire affected walks are re-opened, this is a cautionary measure to monitor visitation.
Overcrowding not only leads to a poor visitor experience, but heavy usage and people not staying on the tracks or camping in undesignated places, can adversely impact the sensitive vegetation that may take centuries to recover.
It is also really important that visitors follow the principles of minimal impact bushwalking.
These principles include walking on tracks even if it is muddy so damage is kept to a narrow band, camping on established campsites, tent platforms, rock, gravel and sand, disposing of waste properly, leaving what you find, minimising campfire impacts and respecting wildlife by observing from a distance.
With most of the popular overnight walks fully subscribed over the Easter and school holiday period, visitors are asked to consider other walks on offer across the state.
The PWS website provides a list of long and short walks with varying degrees of difficulty, so why not explore a less popular track and take on these more popular walks at a less busy time.
With the cooler weather now upon us, it is also particularly important for visitors to follow the Safe Walking Guidelines on the PWS website, which include information on how to select a walk that is suitable for your experience and the clothing and equipment you should pack.
Above all, it is important to be flexible. Be prepared to turn back or change your plans if the weather deteriorates or the walk is more difficult than you expected. There is no shame in this, and you can always attempt the walk again at another time.
Walkers are required to register for some overnight walks:
To confirm availability and register for the following walks, call the Parks and Wildlife Service on (03) 6165 4254, fill out the online form Walker Registration or email firstname.lastname@example.org
- Frenchmans Cap (Vera and Tahune hut sites) (10 per day), Pine Valley Hut site (10 per day), New Pelion (eight per day) and Scott-Kilvert Memorial Hut at Lake Rodway (12 per day)
- Walls of Jerusalem (48 per day)
- Farmhouse Creek (six per day).
Notes on Farmhouse Creek: Farmhouse Creek Track is one of Australia's most challenging backcountry bushwalking tracks/routes, due to its remote location and terrain. There are many steep cliff sections up to 85 degrees where rock scrambling and pack hauling is required. A new campsite to replace the South Cracroft River campsite that was badly burnt in the fires has been built and features three platforms on the buttongrass plain, 100 metres east of the river. Walkers are requested to limit their length of stay at Bechervaise Plateau and Hanging Lake to a maximum of two nights.
For more information on walker registration, walker safety and Leave No Trace explore the website.