Photo: Mt Feathertop, courtesy David Neilson
Concern is growing that the Andrews Government’s plans to develop the visitor economy is driving poorly conceived projects in national parks. The latest is the release of the Draft Master Plan for the Falls to Hotham Alpine Crossing.
The Victorian National Parks Association will be opposing the proposal outlined in the draft master plan for the Falls to Hotham Alpine Crossing because it fails on a number of counts.
31 new buildings proposed for the Alpine National Park
It is outrageous to propose 31 buildings (21 luxury huts and 10 large group shelters) in the Alpine National Park between Falls Creek and Mount Hotham. When the park’s boundaries were decided in 1989, lines were drawn around the Falls Creek and Hotham resorts so development would be contained within those areas.
This proposal completely reverses that stance. The proposed buildings unnecessarily introduce private development and built infrastructure to one of the finest areas of the Alpine National Park.
Multiple beds are already vacant in the Alpine resorts
Why introduce accommodation in the park when hundreds of beds are vacant in the adjacent alpine resorts through summer? It would be much better to promote the vacant resort accommodation, and the great variety of high country day walks the park offers from those venues.
Like previous proposals, there is no detail or business model of how private investment or commercial operators will operate to the benefit of the national park.
Private tour operators will be given preference over limited campsite and cabin bookings
While private tour operators are welcome to operate in our parks, under appropriate governance and management oversight, they should not compromise access for the self-sufficient visitor.
It is dangerous/unsafe
Previous advice to Alpine National Park visitors warned they should be completely self-sufficient, and not rely on huts for shelter. People have died trying to reach huts when the weather turned foul.
This proposal turns that advice around – inexperienced people will be invited to sign up to a fully catered walk, without any need to carry a tent or food. That’s perilous in the high country. And the steep walk up Diamantina spur is also very difficult for unfit walkers.
It is the wrong way to allocate scarce park funding
Most walking tracks and visitor facilities in the Alpine National Park, and indeed in parks across the state, urgently need repair and maintenance. And there are so many other issues that need addressing urgently, such as feral horses, deer, weed invasions etc.
Large-scale new tourism infrastructure has dominated recent budget allocations to Parks Victoria.
Information in the ‘Draft Master Plan’ for the walk is inaccurate and often contradictory
The plan says new cabins will not be visible from elsewhere in the park, but later claims cabin dwellers will have spectacular alpine views. The draft also claims that the project will exhibit exemplary environmental management, but then proposes ‘revegetating’ native alpine grasslands with trees and shrubs to shelter campsites. And experience shows that any significant new infrastructure in the park brings an increase in weed invasion.
There has been no ecological or environmental assessment of the draft proposal.
The Victorian National Parks Association will be strongly opposing the proposal outlined in the draft master plan for the Falls to Hotham Alpine Crossing.
The submission period for this process closed on Friday, 27 January 2017, but you can access the draft plan on the Parks Victoria website.