The flagship project that the Tasmanian government hopes will cement the state as a key bush walking destination will lose money if it is not fully occupied for the entire six-month walking season, despite the expectations, it will be significantly hampered by the region’s notorious rainy weather, internal documents obtained by the CBA reveal.
- It rains an average of 216 days a year near Mount Read on the hiking trail
- If the proposed bush walk is not fully booked it is expected to lose money, however, the overall benefits can be positive for the state
- Internal documents reveal a cost to hikers of $ 576 for rooms with bunk beds or $ 288 per person for camping to bring the trail to breakeven point
The government was forced to double funding for the proposed new three-day iconic walk through the Tyndall Mountain Range after surveys found it would cost $ 37 million, far more than the $ 20 million that had been allocated, despite two other options considered below the cost of $ 20 million.
It is hoped that the “iconic new walk” will build on the success of the Overland Track, as well as the Three Capes Trail on the Tasman Peninsula.
According to internal documents obtained under right to information laws, Parks and Wildlife considered three options for the new walk:
- The three-day option between Anthony Road and Lake Margaret which was ultimately chosen as the preferred route
- A two-day walk from Anthony Road to Huntley Lake
- A new day of walking between Newton Peak and Huntley Lookout associated with improvements to existing trails
He found that both nighttime options would suffer from bad weather issues spoiling the experience, due to obstructed views and impacts on comfort and safety.
According to the Bureau of Meteorology, nearby Mount Read receives an average of 3,581 millimeters of precipitation each year, over 216 days.
Rainfall is lowest in February, averaging 179mm over 12 days.
“A major deterrent to participation is bad weather and its impact on the experience and enjoyment,” the document says.
Three-day walk “an extremely poor option”, says bush walker
A self-described “regular and passionate walker”, whose name has been redacted, wrote to senior Tasmanian politicians and the director of Parks and Wildlife in April to express concerns about the project, after reporting recently marketed in the Tyndall Ranges area.
They said the fragility of the area “combined with the region’s famous bad weather” made the proposed Tyndall Range walk an “extremely bad option”.
“The likelihood that less experienced walkers – for whom the main market for ‘iconic walks’ such as the three capes is – finding themselves in dangerous situations due to unpredictable weather conditions and needing assistance / rescue would be unacceptably high,” wrote the walker.
The three-day march is said to have operating costs of $ 2.87 million per year and includes a large area that could put it in conflict with mining exploration and development.
Internal documents reveal that the fee for walkers is estimated at $ 576 for rooms with bunk beds, or $ 288 per person for camping, and the walk would need to be 100% occupied during the six-month season to meet the threshold. profitability of operating and maintenance costs.
Full occupancy would be 30 people in rooms with bunk beds and 20 campers.
“If the occupancy rate falls below 100 percent, the business enterprise will run in deficit,” the document said.
“To correct this, the visitation fee must be increased. The increase in the fee will reduce the attractiveness of the market and the estimated number of visitors.”
The proposed track will likely still benefit the state
The two shorter rides proposed would result in a loss of money compared to operating costs, even at full capacity.
A cost-benefit analysis in internal documents shows that the economic benefits to the state as a whole would only be positive for the three-day trail option – at 1.06, or six cents for every dollar spent.
But there is a mismatch between internal documents, dated May 2021, and the feasibility study released this week, which shows a slightly higher profit, at 13 cents for every dollar spent.
The three-day walk received only 35% of “wider community support”, while 62% supported the one-day walk option.
Support among the West Coast alone is 60% for the three-day option, but is highest at 75% for the one-day walk trail, however, internal documents note a small sample size.
Large swathes of right to information documents have been completely redacted.
Parks Minister Jacquie Petrusma released the final feasibility study on Monday, saying it proved the project should go ahead.
She said that extensive public consultation, market testing and valuations indicated it would be a success.
The final feasibility study indicates that while the weather was a potential barrier to enjoyment, high-quality covered accommodation and refuges along the trail had been recommended to improve the safety and comfort of walkers.
He said the final fee had not yet been decided, but the project would need to be subsidized if there were not enough people to participate.
The promenade will not be built until 2028 at the earliest.