Push for NSW to develop world-class walking tracks

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Virgin's push for NSW to develop world-class walking tracks

Postby Tony » Sun 30 Mar, 2014 11:14 am

This article appeared in the Canberra Times today, Push for NSW to develop world-class walking tracks, not sure if I like the idea.

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Re: Virgin's push for NSW to develop world-class walking tra

Postby north-north-west » Sun 30 Mar, 2014 12:44 pm

Dubberland could definitely do with some decent, well-maintained dedicated walking tracks - most of what is called walking tracks are actually old fire trails - but not if its all going to be pay-per-view, stay in the hut, make a booking sort of thing.
"Yes, sir/ma'am, you may go out into the bush to be free of civilisation, but just sign this thiry six page triplicate application form first, pay your fee, sign this waiver, accept your schedule, agree to pay the penalties if you diverge from it, and we'll see you at 9:47 am ion the 27th Feb next year . . . "
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Re: Virgin's push for NSW to develop world-class walking tra

Postby peregrinator » Sun 30 Mar, 2014 2:36 pm

north-north-west wrote:Dubberland could definitely do with some decent, well-maintained dedicated walking tracks - most of what is called walking tracks are actually old fire trails - but not if its all going to be pay-per-view, stay in the hut, make a booking sort of thing.
"Yes, sir/ma'am, you may go out into the bush to be free of civilisation, but just sign this thiry six page triplicate application form first, pay your fee, sign this waiver, accept your schedule, agree to pay the penalties if you diverge from it, and we'll see you at 9:47 am ion the 27th Feb next year . . . "


Beautiful summary. To which may be added:

"Yes, sir/ma'am, the on-going improvements we are making to the infrastructure to enhance your tramping (is that what you call this ?) experience will mean that the admission fees have been adjusted somewhat since publication of our interactive website."
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Re: Virgin's push for NSW to develop world-class walking tra

Postby Jag » Sun 30 Mar, 2014 3:27 pm

I am for it , if it provides some track maintenance , public camping facilities & signage & rangers . I think being accessible to. a main city requires this .

I almost lost it on the Hume & Hovell a few years ago . Luckily someone had tied a few nylon ribbons onto trees to show the way occasionally . Then they switched to plastic which disintegrated .Cows had trampled the signposts over . it was skirting that horrible lost feeling every day . When one finallyhits the road totown , it is usually a 15 km walk in with unknowing locals who think you are a hobo.

I would be happy to pay a fee if I these trails were more publicly acknowledged & maintained.
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Push for NSW to develop world-class walking tracks

Postby Allchin09 » Sun 30 Mar, 2014 5:01 pm

An article was posted today by SMH titled "Push for NSW to develop world-class walking tracks" - See http://www.smh.com.au/environment/push- ... 35q8s.html

I agree that development of some areas really does need to take place, and revamping the Coast Track is a great start. However, I don't think that wilderness areas (such as the Kanangra-Boyd Wilderness which the K2K track travels through) should be subject to such a "Great Walks" program as described by Minister Parker.

What are your thoughts on the proposal?

Also, the article states that:
On Sunday, Ms Parker will call for the public to nominate which walks should be included in the government's ''Great Walks'' program.

I'm not sure how 'the public' will be able to nominate for these walks, but which walks would you be putting forward for this "Great Walks" development program?
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Re: Virgin's push for NSW to develop world-class walking tra

Postby awildland » Sun 30 Mar, 2014 5:09 pm

I agree with Trinder's comments that: ''NSW is not well developed compared to other states. There is great potential here,'' he said.

but the words and phrases used in the article make me nervous : private lodges, exclusive licence, commercially guided tours and worst of all - walking tracks as a "product". ("the Tasmanian Walking Company said its proposal was designed to qualify for acceptance as a ''Great Walks of Australia product'')…eek!
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Re: Push for NSW to develop world-class walking tracks

Postby maddog » Sun 30 Mar, 2014 6:02 pm

When the Environment Minister Robyn Parker provides more details of her ambitious five-year program to build ''great walks'' we will be in a position to offer an opinion.

But you can nominate tracks here:

http://www.nationalparks.nsw.gov.au/Exp ... at%20Walks

Cheers.
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Re: Push for NSW to develop world-class walking tracks

Postby tastrax » Sun 30 Mar, 2014 6:46 pm

I suggest a merge with this topic

viewtopic.php?f=5&t=16688
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Re: Virgin's push for NSW to develop world-class walking tra

Postby Lindsay » Sun 30 Mar, 2014 7:08 pm

This sounds like a push by a private company to use the national parks to make a profit. I'm not sure I like the idea either.
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Re: Push for NSW to develop world-class walking tracks

Postby cajun » Mon 31 Mar, 2014 7:52 am

I heard Matt on the ABC this morning. It was a good interview but unfortunately I didn't hear any listener feedback, apart from 1 person who thought everyone should bush bash like they did in the sixties.
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Re: Virgin's push for NSW to develop world-class walking tra

Postby michael_p » Mon 31 Mar, 2014 8:10 am

Lindsay wrote:This sounds like a push by a private company to use the national parks to make a profit. I'm not sure I like the idea either.

Agree.
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Re: Virgin's push for NSW to develop world-class walking tra

Postby johnf » Mon 31 Mar, 2014 4:39 pm

awildland wrote:but the words and phrases used in the article make me nervous : private lodges, exclusive licence, commercially guided tours


I didn't get any notion from the article that there was any idea of an exclusive licence.
Have not done the Overland Track for instance but from those that have, is there any real impact on having the commercial tour with private huts running alongside the self guided walks? I guess the company would be after a similar thing.
I would only be concerned about the private operator aspect if it meant some intrusive infrastructure such as a supply access road had to be put in.

As for potential routes, in two minds about that, as to make a world class track it is probably going to have to go through a wilderness area.
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Re: Virgin's push for NSW to develop world-class walking tra

Postby roysta » Mon 31 Mar, 2014 6:10 pm

The place you always look at in our part of the world is New Zealand.
They've had plenty of experience with private huts operating in tandem with public facilities.
But that's where it all ends.
NSW and most other states don't have a track record in this area and we have every right to be extremely sceptical.
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Re: Virgin's push for NSW to develop world-class walking tra

Postby Lindsay » Mon 31 Mar, 2014 8:04 pm

I believe that there were attempts by private operators to lock independent walkers out of the Milford track some years ago, but sanity prevailed. Maybe Wayno can elaborate on this?
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Re: Virgin's push for NSW to develop world-class walking tra

Postby roysta » Mon 31 Mar, 2014 8:38 pm

As you know there are parallel huts on the Routeburn and Milford plus one hut on the Greenstone.
These work well and what I've seen there are no issues.
DOC management has it under control.
There was talk of Ultimate Hikes building parallel huts on the Kepler as well, but I'm not sure where this went, Wayne may well know.
Despite everything, NZ has a history of private huts co-existing with DOC huts and it works.
We don't, and there in lies the problem.
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Re: Virgin's push for NSW to develop world-class walking tra

Postby Allchin09 » Mon 31 Mar, 2014 10:36 pm

I really don't see how huts are necessary in most areas of NSW. Our climate is quite different to that of NZ or even Tas. I think any money allocated to the project would be best spent on upgrading existing walking track to a better standard, whether it be better signage and track markers, more regular maintenance or improved drainage or raised walking track to prevent erosion. It would be great to see walks such as the Coast Track have money spent on them, and to see them promoted as "Great Walks".

This program however has no place in wilderness areas, and I believe that the reference by the reporter to the Kanangra to Katoomba walk through the Kanangra-Boyd Wilderness was inappropriate. I would be very concerned in Bushwalking NSW was advocating for tracks to be developed in such areas!
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Re: Virgin's push for NSW to develop world-class walking tra

Postby madmacca » Mon 31 Mar, 2014 11:11 pm

Is it just me, or does there appear to be a large number of hiking snobs on this thread?

God forbid anything is ever done to make NP's more accessible to those who haven't spent years learning and developing backcountry skills.
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Re: Virgin's push for NSW to develop world-class walking tra

Postby Allchin09 » Mon 31 Mar, 2014 11:21 pm

Hiking snobs? I'm not sure I understand what you mean.
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Re: Push for NSW to develop world-class walking tracks

Postby wildwalks » Tue 01 Apr, 2014 6:56 am

Merged the two similar topics into the NSW forum
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Re: Virgin's push for NSW to develop world-class walking tra

Postby wildwalks » Tue 01 Apr, 2014 7:26 am

madmacca wrote:Is it just me, or does there appear to be a large number of hiking snobs on this thread?
God forbid anything is ever done to make NP's more accessible to those who haven't spent years learning and developing backcountry skills.


Interesting discussion.
I actually this this is reverse of snobbery.

Minster Parker is proposing we copy what Tas does to make NSW a popular walking destination. My argument is that if NSW just copy what Tas does - then we will never become a premium destination. NSW is not Tassy.

My proposal is based on the fact that NSW is different in a number of ways from other states and that NSW should leverage on difference - not just copy.
eg NSW has
* An incredible network of NP within and near to it major cities.
* Easy public transport to many amazing walking tracks
* B&B, hotels and other good accommodation close to many trackheads
* Cafes and other attraction near the walks

It is about increasing access in the most effective way.
Building huts limits visits. The OT in tassy is maxed out at 9k visitors a year. Not because the track is full but because the on park huts and campsites fill up.
In NSW the Great North Walk already attracts more then 40k walkers (on sections of the track) each year -- yet the track still feels empty. The Six Foot Track nearly double what the OT track gets.
Our tracks and parks can handle many more visitors before there is a hint of overcrowding. The most effective way todo this is to encourage people to use accommodation on the edge of the park.
This is what has made walking so very popular in much of Europe.
This is about making bushwalking accessible to a wider range and many more people.

I am apposed to the building of huts in wilderness areas -- this is in direct contrast to the definition of wilderness.
National Parks primary purpose is to protect bio-diversity - it is not to make easy access for visitors.
It is still important that we encourage visitors - we live in a democracy so we need people to love these places so they will vote to keep the legislation in place to protect them. But this does not mean that all people need to be given easy access to all parts of all parks.

I would argue that the reason NSW is not top of mind as a walking destination is not due to lack on infrastructure per se - but because of inconsistent track maintenance and very poor promotion. Although this is NPWS responsibility it is not their fault it is not happening. The NSW govt does not provide appropriate leadership and keep wasting NPWS time (EG the huge waste of resources with the whole hunting issue - huge amount of effort wasted for 12 months). Tracks like the Coast Walk in RNP become a mud pit, and bridges like that on Calana creek go un-repaired (with no comment) for more then 12 months. The NPWS website is full of errors and mis-information that just lead to bad experiences. Why would any self respecting tourist plan to walk in NSW if they can't trust the information provided by the Government not that the tracks would be open.

Having said that it does seem the Minister is open to discussing this idea - so I want to thank her and her staff for wanting to see NSW as a premium walking destination and for been open to looking at better ways of achieving that goal.

In light of that - keep the conversation going, keep ideas flow so that we might have some influence over the direction of this policy.

Matt :)
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Re: Push for NSW to develop world-class walking tracks

Postby Mark F » Tue 01 Apr, 2014 7:41 am

As someone who was involved in the early development of Cradle Huts I don't have a particular problem with the concept but it really comes down to the details. Most importantly choosing the right route and ensuring that the accommodation method, siting and servicing doesn't interfere with normal users of the route. I think the coastal walk could be done well. There is plenty of access and it would be easy to tuck a cabin or two away from sight. Katoomba 2 Kanangra is more problematic in working out appropriate locations and servicing options, not to mention crossing the cox unless you use the 6 ft track and bridge.

These sorts of proposals can either be done well or badly, until I see some more information I will sit on the fence.
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Re: Push for NSW to develop world-class walking tracks

Postby wildwalks » Tue 01 Apr, 2014 7:52 am

Good point Mark
it is often how these things are played out that really matter.
Interesting example on The Coast Walk Royal NP. A few years ago a popular campsite at Wattamolla was closed to the general public with access limited to commercial operators only. No alternative was provided and even when the campsite is not used by commercial operators (which is most of the time) the general public is still not allowed to camp there. The concept of "exclusive" use is very popular way of pushing for market differentiation in NSW.
There is an important place for commercial tour operators and I absolutely want them supported. At best they serve 10% of the visitors to parks - the main focus should be on how to support and encourage self-guided walkers, this is where parks can have the biggest influence. And to make sure it is done in a way that protects the parks bio-diversity and allows for significant growth without adding pressure to the park.

Matt :)
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Re: Push for NSW to develop world-class walking tracks

Postby Nuts » Tue 01 Apr, 2014 8:53 am

Mark F wrote:As someone who was involved in the early development of Cradle Huts I don't have a particular problem with the concept but it really comes down to the details.


Matt knows my opinion on private huts. I can offer a comment on this aspect generally.

I'm not opposed to higher levels of infrastructure in parks, on popular tracks, but (imo) it should definitely not be privately owned. I suspect in fact not really even lawful to have such an incursion if ever properly challenged. With private huts park services may give away the one cherry that could self-fund track maintenance or actually turn a profit (if there is a case for huts at all).
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Re: Virgin's push for NSW to develop world-class walking tra

Postby davidmorr » Wed 16 Apr, 2014 8:53 pm

awildland wrote:As for potential routes, in two minds about that, as to make a world class track it is probably going to have to go through a wilderness area.

I don't agree with this entirely. To some extent it depends on what you mean by "world class".

I have done a bit of walking in the UK over the last 10 years. If you have ever walked or travelled in Britain, you would realise there is no wilderness in the sense we mean it. Every square inch of the land has been worked or forested or farmed for thousands of years. Yet there are literally dozens of marked and well-used multi-day walking tracks that could be called world class. Most of them cross farmland, which is possible because of the historical accident of certain routes having been public rights-of-way for thousands of years.

Two years ago, I did the Offa's Dyke Path, which follows the border between England and Wales. It took two weeks. We walked along roads, over farmland, through odd little parks, on river banks, through towns. The accommodation was usually some distance off the track, as much as several kilometres for some.

Then there are all the other National Trails, such as the Hadrian's Wall Path, the Pennine Way, South West Coast Path, etc.

http://www.nationaltrail.co.uk

There are also lots of unofficial paths, such as Wainwright's Coast-to-Coast, the Dales Way, and so on.

These walks are extremely popular, and bring regular income to shops, accommodation places (and pubs) and transport companies along the route.

None of them involve wilderness, but many have other attractions, such as historical monuments, great views, pubs for morning tea, lunch and afternoon tea, etc. They are doable by ordinary people who can carry only a daypack, and are very accessible to public transport.

What I would say is that the web site seeking suggestions lists a whole lot of day walks as examples. People do not come from the other side of the world to do an isolated daywalk, or even from a long distance in NSW or Australia.

In the UK, most of the walks are structured around the time periods people usually are available. Most people can only get a weekend or a whole week off work, so the walks tend to be two days, 7 days, or 14 days. If day walks are to be included, then there better be a bunch of them fairly close together to keep people busy for a weekend or a week.

New Zealand is a little different to Britain, in that there is more emphasis on carrying your own food, bedding, etc, but huts are provided to stay in, and campsites if you prefer and want to save a little money. Walks also tend to be around the 3-5 days mark, with some substantially longer (eg, Dusky). Daywalks do not feature highly in the walks available, and are certainly not why people travel all the way to New Zealand.

Local businesses also benefit from the walkers in NZ, in terms of food and drink suppliers, transport companies, and accommodation places near the start and finish. Some walks have commercial huts but they coexist with the independent walkers with no apparent problems. (We even have an example of this here, in the Six Foot Track.)
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Re: Push for NSW to develop world-class walking tracks

Postby Allchin09 » Thu 17 Apr, 2014 11:02 pm

Your description David of walking in the UK reminded me of how lucky we are in Australia! Whereas the areas that you refer to have been logged and farmed for centuries, we actually still have areas that are in a relatively unchanged state to what they were centuries ago. Theres areas have been identified and classed as wilderness areas, affording them the protection of NSW's Wilderness Act. The idea is to try and keep these areas in the state which we found them in, and prevent and reverse any development in these areas where possible.

By preserving these areas, we have keep something that many other countries simply don't have! Surely this shouldn't be lost to advantage those who feel it is necessary to stay in cabins and follow signs and tracks?

We have plenty of areas in NSW that aren't wilderness, and as mentioned, what they really need is some maintenance and promotion to get them up to scratch. I think a great way to promote our National Parks to tourists, it to promote day walks. They require minimal skill and equipment, and they are a good starting place for those who have never bushwalked before. In Jim Smith's "How To See the Blue Mountains - 2nd Edition" he outlines an itinerary for a weeks visit. It comprises 15 day walks of varying difficulty and length, and places of accommodation are suggested for each night. The government could for example, promote a similar series of day walks, all starting and ending at townships with much accommodation, to encourage people into our parks.
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Re: Push for NSW to develop world-class walking tracks

Postby davidmorr » Thu 17 Apr, 2014 11:32 pm

The accommodation is not there at present, nor most other facilities, but the Great North Walk would be a good example of a long distance walk that could be done as a series of daywalks carrying a daypack, and with a transport company taking bigger bags from accommodation to accommodation. This is what is done in Britain.

Ofc, the GNW is an extended example of Australian bush - there is not a lot of variety. Wasn't there talk once of a Pacific Coast Walk up the NSW coast? Compare to Abel Tasman in New Zealand.
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Re: Push for NSW to develop world-class walking tracks

Postby davidmorr » Fri 25 Apr, 2014 2:53 pm

Talking to a retired NPWS ranger over Easter, he warned to be very careful about privately owned structures in national parks.

Typically, he said, it will start off as a small hut which noone could complain about. Then it will be extended a bit, again only a small extension which hardly has any impact. Then it will need to be rebuilt at some stage, maybe after a fire, and it will become bigger and more comfortable - after all, why rebuild a basic and uncomfortable hut. This too is likely to be extended a bit, perhaps with showers.

Anyway, you can see where this is heading. Sooner or later it will be a luxury hotel. And if you ever wanted to get rid of it, the owners would threaten to sue for millions in damages. Now public servants are not too comfortable with the thought of being sued, so they tend to cave in.

So all accommodation should be outside the park, or in public ownership and operation if inside the park, much as the huts are in NZ parks.
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Re: Push for NSW to develop world-class walking tracks

Postby tastrax » Sat 26 Apr, 2014 9:49 pm

davidmorr wrote:So all accommodation should be outside the park, or in public ownership and operation if inside the park, much as the huts are in NZ parks.


I thought the original huts on the Milford were run by the Tourist Hotel Corporation(1960's?) and no private walkers were allowed? This changed some time later when the public huts were built
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Re: Push for NSW to develop world-class walking tracks

Postby melinda » Sun 17 May, 2015 7:52 pm

Wilderness is wilderness.
Not up for grabs!
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Re: Push for NSW to develop world-class walking tracks

Postby Suz » Wed 20 May, 2015 4:36 pm

I personally really like hut to hut walking - for an independent solo walker it is quite a nice way to meet people (over a glass of wine in the evening). I personally like to walk alone during the day, but socialise a bit with other people in the evening. There is always the option of the European model on huts rather than the kiwi. More expensive but much more luxurious (with demi-pension and sometimes a shower) and these are all independently owned (or owned by an alpine club), rather than by a tour operator offering guided walks along the whole track - thus there is no implication of track ownership, only hut ownership. That deals with one problem. Although perhaps there is not sufficient demand here as in Europe for such a model, for we lack the vast populations. The presence of both manned and/or unmanned huts and campsites can also be organised in a way that is flexible to all track users, depending on their preferences.

Hut-to-hut hiking (in independent not 'guide' huts) is also the way in which I've gotten into multi-day walking - I don't think I would have contemplated solo hiking camp-to-camp without this step. Therefore, I think that from personal experience, there is something of a democratising effect created by huts - they allow the beginner out into the wild, to walk independently, safely and still fairly cheaply and to gain experience before venturing out into more wild and unassisted terrain.

My experience has led me to a certain bias on the subject, I don't pretend to know about the politics or environmental consequences of any of it. And I do also harbour the desire to run a mountain hut for a season…one day, which further adds to my bias.

I do also agree that 'Great Walks' might be used to favourably leverage the voting public feelings on our NPs (as someone else mentioned earlier here), which is important. Don't forget there are other threats to our NPs other than walking operators. Note the actions of The Abbott in this area for one: http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-03-05/a ... up/5299046 Creating viable business in our NPs might be one way to preserve them (mostly) in their current state. Any govt is going to be happy about NPs creating more jobs and generating more income. Could put them off trying to un-NP them.
Suz
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