Working with local communities to build and repair walking tracks
Environment Tasmania is project managing walking track projects around the state, funded through the Australian Government’s Caring for Country program.
Our program isn't just about track work. We are actively promoting sustainable use of tracks, and working with local communities to take on the long term stewardship of their local walking tracks. We are working closely with the Parks and Wildlife Service to ensure the walking track projects are beneficial to local communities and tourism and respectful of environmental and cultural values.
To be eligible, tracks need to be in new reserves proclaimed in 2013 under the Tasmanian Forests Agreement, or Future Potential Production Forest areas now managed by Crown Land Services. Tracks are prioritised on the basis of current (or projected) visitor use and environmental issues such as track erosion.
Our walking track projects include new short walks and track repairs. Our Blue Tier Giant Walk provides visitor access to stunning tall tree forest in the Blue Tier. Track work at Higgs and Warners Tracks accessing the Central Plateau, Arm River Track accessing the Overland Track, and Lake Skinner near the Snowy Mountains will address environmental issues such as track erosion. During 2015-16 we will be undertaking new track work projects at Halls Falls, Brooks Track, and an exciting new track to Twisted Sister in the Florentine.
We welcome input on track projects from local communities. Contact our office if you would like to find out more about ways you can become a custodian for your local walking track.
Blue Tier Giant Walk
Our walking track to the Blue Tier Giant and other spectacular forest giants in the Blue Tier is highly acclaimed and destined to be one of Tasmania's greatest short walks. The track was officially opened in December 2014 and is getting rave reviews both for the track design and appealing interpretive signage. These signs tell the amazing story of the campaign to protect this magnificent forest.
This 2.3 kilometre walk travels through mixed species native forest with rainforest understorey in the Groom River Valley among giant blue gums. The forests are breath-taking with glades of sassafras, myrtles and tree ferns as well as giant Eucalyptus regnans trees, including the Cradle Tree, the Twin Sisters tree, and the Blue Tier Giant which has a massive girth and a height of over 70m.
The Blue Tier Giant walking track supplements existing nature-based tourism opportunities, providing the only Big Tree experience in the north east.
Cradle Tree on Blue Tier Giant Walking Track
- Low maintenance design using only local materials and designed to flow through the forest. Local stone was used for track benching, rock edging and walling, and even a feature arched stone bridge.
- Local community group Friends of the Blue Tier are the 'track custodians' who maintain the track.
- The track is Class 3 standard, using aesthetic design methods and low environmental impact techniques such as use of local stone for bridges and retaining walls.
- Located on Future Potential Production Forest managed by Crown Land Services.
The Blue Tier Giant (Image: Rob Blakers)
Working bee to install interpretive signs at the Blue Tier Giant Walk in November 2014.
With support from Mountain Huts Preservation Society and Friends of the Great Western Tiers, track crews and volunteers have repaired stonework and cleared sections of this historical track. Once the only access route from Jackeys Marsh south, the track was used as a stock route until the 1970s. The track was built in the 1880s using traditional stone walling, but has fallen into disrepair in recent years. In 2010 the Mountain Huts Preservation Society and Parks and Wildlife Service replaced the two bridges, using traditional materials such as hand split timber decking.
Track work funded through this project includes track clearing and stone pitching on steep eroded sections of the track.
Section of original stone wall on upper section of Warners Track
Community involvement with this project included a visit to the track by members of Mountain Huts Preservation Society and students from Meander School. 18 kids from Grades 2 to 6 braved winter weather to walk up Warners Track and learn about track building. They were joined by local community members who shared stories of the track's history over a campfire with billy tea and damper. And along the way they met with our track workers to learn about traditional stone work techniques for track building.
Our work has focussed on the lower section of Warners Track, formerly managed by Forestry Tasmania, and now part of the 2013 extension to the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area, zoned as Future Potential Production Forest.
Students from Meander School visiting Warners Track
Higgs Track is the main access track onto the Central Plateau and was originally built as a stock route. Deeply eroded sections of track were repaired using stone pitching techniques, and the track crew included locals from the area with specialist skills in stone wall building. The lower section of the track crosses Dale Brook and the temporary log crossing has been replaced with an aesthetically designed foot bridge using natural timbers. Mountain Huts Preservation Society volunteers assisted with installing the new bridge and with the track work.
Our work has focussed on the lower section of Higgs Track, which is part of the 2013 extension to the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area managed by Crown Land Services as Future Potential Production Forest.
The aesthetically designed new bridge over Dale Brook on Higgs Track. The design (provided by Parks and Wildlife Service) uses local materials, and developed and built in close consultation with local group Mountain Huts Preservation Society.
We have held regular working bees at Higgs Track during 2014 and 2015, to help with track work, bridge maintenance and the heli-lifting of bridge materials. Contact our office or Wildcare (ph 61654230) if you would like to join the new Wildcare group for this track.
Lake Skinner has long been a popular destination for bushwalkers, skiers and anglers, and in 2013 became part of the Southwest National Park and the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area. Sections of the track accessing the lake were eroded, muddy and in need of repair. Track work by our track crew and volunteers used local materials and traditional techniques such as building cordwood and split log planking to minimise walker impacts along boggy sections.
Our working bees on the Lake Skinner Track in November 2014 and May 2015 have been so popular that our volunteers are now setting up their own Wildcare group to take on the long term maintenance of this track. Contact our office or Wildcare if you would like to register your interest.
Cordwood using local materials on Lake Skinner Track
Volunteers building cordwood on Lake Skinner Track
Arm River Track
We've had very positive feedback on our track work on popular Arm River Track which accesses the Overland Track. The track work repaired sections of track damaged by erosion. Small sections of track have been realigned to reduce the gradient and minimise erosion. Our trackwork will reduce environmental impacts from walkers, reduce the long term maintenance requirements for the track, and minimise use of other informal tracks in the area.
Once again we used low impact track building techniques using local materials. New sections of track have stone walling constructed to blend in with the natural surrounds. The project has been approved by PWS and Crown Lands Services, the land manager, through a stringent environmental impact assessment. Strict protocols to minimise environmental impacts include washing down all equipment to prevent introduction of plant disease or weeds.
Arm River Track is part of the TWWHA 2013 extension. Land tenure is Future Potential Production Forest.
Volunteers from Friends of Blue Tier and Green Army are joining us to do much needed track work at Halls Falls, a popular walking track in the Blue Tier. Our track crew will teach volunteers how to build stone steps and stone walling, as well as installing safety hand rails. Contact our office if you would like to volunteer.
Halls Falls is on land zoned as Future Potential Production Forest.
Halls Falls (image by Rob Blakers)