Walk Bookings.

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Walk Bookings.

Postby Mechanic-AL » Fri 10 Dec, 2021 7:24 pm

I've read a few post lately that mention bookings for walks in places such as The Walls of Jerusalem, Frenchman's Cap and even Mt Anne.
The Overland Track appears to be the only walk requiring a booking according to the Parks website so I am assuming some people maybe using the word booking when they are actually referring to the Covid Registration requirements.

Is the OT still the only track that needs to be booked ?
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Re: Walk Bookings.

Postby matagi » Fri 10 Dec, 2021 7:29 pm

https://parks.tas.gov.au/explore-our-pa ... gistration

There are actually caps on the number but it is a voluntary system for most sites.
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Re: Walk Bookings.

Postby Mechanic-AL » Fri 10 Dec, 2021 8:03 pm

Thanks Matagi.

A registration is not a booking then, but it would be hard not to regard it as a precursor of things to come I guess.
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Re: Walk Bookings.

Postby Tortoise » Sat 11 Dec, 2021 8:43 am

Mechanic-AL wrote:Thanks Matagi.

A registration is not a booking then, but it would be hard not to regard it as a precursor of things to come I guess.

Not a booking requiring payment, but a 'booking' required to reserve your spot, as Matagi said. Parks say it's Covid + limiting numbers in popular/sensitive areas.
You can still turn up and find it chockers, or find that the people who had booked the previous day didn't turn up, and you could have had the good weather when it mattered after all. :x
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Re: Walk Bookings.

Postby Nuts » Sun 12 Dec, 2021 3:35 pm

They need Garmin minis, in impenetrable mini boxes.. at the track register. And a proper advertising campaign.
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Re: Walk Bookings.

Postby Nuts » Sun 12 Dec, 2021 4:24 pm

Mechanic-AL wrote:Thanks Matagi.

A registration is not a booking then, but it would be hard not to regard it as a precursor of things to come I guess.


Yeah, for sure. 'Lessening Impact' these days can mean maximising profit but at worst to loose a few $ to pay for minimal upkeep of that track might be ok? If that's what's got to happen? But just hardened campsites, toilets, some track repair, maybe a wandering ranger? much like things were.. :) And some commitment that this is all would be nice. Even the money/ penalty doesn't seem to stop the Overland bookings streaming in, well ahead of time.
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Re: Walk Bookings.

Postby north-north-west » Sun 12 Dec, 2021 6:38 pm

Nuts wrote: ... a few $ to pay for minimal upkeep of that track might be ok?


Isn't that what Park passes are supposed to be for?
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Re: Walk Bookings.

Postby Nuts » Mon 13 Dec, 2021 1:16 pm

Oh yeah, sure. I mean I'd just add these designated track fees to park fees then embed it all in the footy tickets.
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Re: Walk Bookings.

Postby Mechanic-AL » Tue 14 Dec, 2021 7:55 pm

I can recall a comment Tastraxs made about having defined levels of acceptable impact on tracks which is somehow set by the classification of the track in question. But he also said something along the lines that when push comes to shove the defined level of impact gets turfed out pretty quickly in favour of more infrastructure and hardened tracks.
So at a glance I guess Tas Parks should be applauded for trying to keep a lid on the numbers via the rego system , even if it has been a bit clumsy with the implementation. At least they are sticking with their original goal.
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Re: Walk Bookings.

Postby Nuts » Thu 16 Dec, 2021 9:14 am

Yeah the track monitoring & classification has been great parks work (I believe Tastrax was involved).
https://parks.tas.gov.au/Documents/Walk ... olicy_.pdf

Unfortunately, for the intent of conservation, they only have a few people jumping up and down in support v's many 000's talking up manicured trails, with a narrow perspective.
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Re: Walk Bookings.

Postby tastrax » Thu 16 Dec, 2021 5:32 pm

The overnight walker registration system is a 'feel good' attempt by the current management at limiting impacts. My view is that it will fail and likely also lead to some displacement of walkers into even more pristine areas (as is the norm for this type of voluntary, unenforceable system)

https://parks.tas.gov.au/explore-our-pa ... gistration

If the daily numbers on each of those tracks were (even half) filled then I have no doubt that track impacts will continue to occur and tracks will start to fall outside of their prescriptions for the various track classes (if they are not already). In many ways its about limiting the need for more camping infrastructure and trying to keep social interactions to 'acceptable' levels (ie walkers dont feel crowded in remote areas) whilst trying to maintain a 'remote experience' for folks in the chosen areas. Had even lower limits been imposed back in the late 1990's according to the science, then the areas could have been a world class 'high quality experience' whilst keeping impacts within specified limits however, politically, that is a very sensitive issue and certainly not backed by the current Liberal government and often not backed by locals (the old NIMBY syndrome - do whatever you like so long as it doesn't affect me).

This may sound harsh but its generally what occurs all over the world - we seldom appreciate restrictions until its too late and then we don't like the developments which follow.

I have been out of Parks for 8 years but ran the Track Management Team between 1993 and 2006. The majority of the science, research, monitoring and education work was done by professional staff like Grant Dixon, Martin Hawes, Roger Ling, Jennie Winham, Tracey Diggins plus many others and is still acknowledged as some of the best walking track research anywhere in the world. I was just the glue keeping it all together, doing the paperwork, finding the dollars and spending them wisely across the state! In addition to all the above there was also an extensive maintenance program in field centres as well.

If you want better tracks then start lobbying the PWS and politicians and get the Track Team back together and fund them accordingly to get works done across the ENTIRE track network. If you dont put in the effort then expect more commercial tracks, more Great Bushwalks and less general maintenance of the majority of the track network.
Cheers - Phil

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Re: Walk Bookings.

Postby Mechanic-AL » Thu 16 Dec, 2021 9:14 pm

Thanks for your response Tastrax. It certainly adds a bit of insight to the current situation.

It must be pretty disheartening for the people involved to be doing all the hard yards and feel like they are heading in the right direction only to have all their work thrown in the bin by successive governments but I guess this is the kind of waste that must occur time and again at all levels of public service.

When you say we should lobby PWS and politicians to get the Track Team back together does this mean there is no current dedicated Track Management Team ?
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Re: Walk Bookings.

Postby tastrax » Fri 17 Dec, 2021 7:35 am

I am philosophical about the public service. Anyone who works in it needs to understand that its VERY, VERY political so you need to work with that regardless of which department you are in. There will be times when directors change, budgets change, priorities change so you make the best of what is delivered to you whilst at the same time trying to maintain your own integrity.

To the best of my knowledge there is no longer a dedicated team of folks working on overall walking track management. There are likely project teams that get assembled for major projects like Three Capes or the Tyndall's project but they would be focused solely on each project not the overall health of the track network across the state. I am aware that Grant has been asked to do some monitoring on the network but there doesn't appear to be anyone coming through the ranks to take over that work and certainly no support for a statewide approach to track issues such as maintenance, monitoring or education. I suspect there are also no dedicated budgets for annual track maintenance in field budgets (other than the icon walks). Its likely that most track work is done after major events such as fires etc via insurance payouts. This leaves the general brush cutting, drainage management etc of most tracks either to volunteers like Wildcare or Bushwalking groups or the occasional motivated member of staff who can convince the boss to give them some $$ and time.

It can be disheartening when you know the science and data backs your case for real change and it is ignored (generally for political reasons). The upside is that we also have great organisations like the Tasmanian National Parks Association doing great work in keeping the government honest and accountable, especially for things like Lake Malbena where processes were manipulated to back developers. I feel sorry for the public servants that were no doubt forced to make the changes that allowed such actions to occur.
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Re: Walk Bookings.

Postby tastrax » Fri 17 Dec, 2021 7:44 am

As an aside, tracks are just another asset class (like buildings, roads, bridges, interpretive displays, signs etc) and there is plenty of well accepted treasury models that spell out what percentage of capital value should be spent on them for good overall maintenance. I suspect ALL asset classes are underfunded in PWS. There seems to be a trend of simply 'fixing on failure' rather than strategic long term maintenance.
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Re: Walk Bookings.

Postby Nuts » Fri 24 Dec, 2021 9:14 am

Well.. someone Has twiddled the 'dry-boot' reference.. :)

Great work, I'm sure I thank your team on behalf of most of us 1500..

I kinda feel similar on these Macro level considerations by G&M : https://wild.com.au/conservation/what-w ... 1u5MLA1TWY that assigning classes can equally be used to help either further conservation or further development.

In essence, with minimal impact the guiding regime, we could treat every last piece of crown land as 'wilderness, only wilderness or places in transition to wilderness or, including buildings themselves, assisting wilderness in any way possible.
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Re: Walk Bookings.

Postby Scooter » Fri 21 Jan, 2022 2:12 pm

I was planning a walk to Perrins Bluff. I thought I would do the right thing and register to use the Arm River Track. There is a limit of 8 walkers per day on this track, so I would have to wait some weeks for a vacant time slot. I was also informed that it was mandatory to use the designated camp sites; ie Pelion Plains. The idea of the caps on walker numbers is primarily a response to Covid, and yet when you reach your destination everybody has to use the same camping area. According to NPWS, camping in a remote area breaches the "Leave no Trace" principle. So, to climb Perrins within the set limitations, I would have to get from Pelion to Perrins and back within one day! If NPWS enforce their rules to the absolute letter of the code, then it will be impossible for anyone to visit any remote peaks in the Cradle Mountain Lake St Clair national park without breaching the code. I doubt this was an intended consequence of the walker registration system and leave no trace concept, but these are the rules that people behind the booking system are trying to impose.
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Re: Walk Bookings.

Postby Nuts » Fri 21 Jan, 2022 3:01 pm

Did you get that in writing or is it written somewhere, about camping & LNT?
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Re: Walk Bookings.

Postby Mechanic-AL » Fri 21 Jan, 2022 7:21 pm

Like a lot of people I'm pretty vague on how some of aspects of this system are meant to work but full credit to you for at least making the attempt to play by the rules.
Having done that I'd say now is probably time to go and climb Perrins Bluff. If you wait around for Parks to sort this out you'll probably never get up there.
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Re: Walk Bookings.

Postby tastrax » Fri 21 Jan, 2022 9:25 pm

Scooter wrote:According to NPWS, camping in a remote area breaches the "Leave no Trace" principle.


I think they need to read the LNT principles again! There are clear principles to follow when 'off trail' walking. Its about party size, frequency of travel and using durable surface etc for walking and camping....as well as all the usual minimal impact

https://lnt.org/why/7-principles/travel ... -surfaces/

...and good on you for asking re the registration
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Re: Walk Bookings.

Postby Scooter » Sat 22 Jan, 2022 5:32 am

Nuts wrote:Did you get that in writing or is it written somewhere, about camping & LNT?

I rang the NPWS number listed on their website to register my intention to use the Arm River track, and was informed that I could camp nowhere other than Pelion!!
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Re: Walk Bookings.

Postby headwerkn » Mon 24 Jan, 2022 4:26 pm

Scooter wrote:I was planning a walk to Perrins Bluff. I thought I would do the right thing and register to use the Arm River Track... I was also informed that it was mandatory to use the designated camp sites; ie Pelion Plains... I would have to get from Pelion to Perrins and back within one day!


As you've likely now figured out, you've been given a bum-steer here. In my experience anyway, many of the Parks' customer service/admin staff at Cradle aren't terribly well versed in the Overland Track Fair Use policies regarding off-track destinations/routes around the main track. In fairness, their jobs mostly revolve around keeping often-clueless tourists from attempting dumb things, and rarely differentiate experienced walkers who've done their research. Ongoing COVID restrictions and the registration system only add to the confusion, unfortunately.

Off track overnighting around the OLT is perfectly acceptable, it just needs to be well off the main track. PWS don't want to encourage OLT walkers just pitching a tent anywhere they feel tired etc. When we did Perrins/Achilles a couple of years ago we went in via ART straight to Frog Flats and up to Leonards Tarn in a day - a big effort but doable. With the COVID restrictions it's obviously best to limit your time around New Pelion especially later in the day as OLTers filter in.

Parks do appreciate a courtesy email ahead of time if you're doing certain longer routes around the OLT - Leonards Tarn, Never Never etc. Details are in the OLT Fair Use Policy document. Also it is recommended to let the nearest hut ranger know that you're going into the area and your itinerary as a courtesy, if high fire danger weather is forecast it helps them know how many people are where if there's an emergency.

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Re: Walk Bookings.

Postby lefroy » Tue 25 Jan, 2022 5:49 am

I was told the same thing for Philps/Agamemnon when trying to play along. PWS said that the track was full and camping was not allowed away from the designated camp sites. Just do your own thing, the less you ask the less confused PWS seem to be. A side note that friends(x3) did Frenchmans over the same weekend and had the huts to themselves.
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Re: Walk Bookings.

Postby headwerkn » Tue 25 Jan, 2022 9:02 am

lefroy wrote:I was told the same thing for Philps/Agamemnon.


I think commonsense needs to apply - as rare an attribute that may be these days :roll: . We didn't bother with booking a recent Philps/Agememnon trip - you're not really 'doing' the 'Frenchmans Cap track' after all - but cleared out of the hut as soon as the day's walkers started filtering in, took the rearmost platform and were ready to shift back onto the ranger's platform (we had an off-duty ranger with us) if need be... which wasn't necessary in the end as Vera is one of the few nodes with plenty of platforms. There also were the old sites nearer the lake as a backup. Basically did our bit to not displace any booked-in walker and "not be in the way" though ironically we ended up being asked to help fix a duff cooker and spent plenty of time chatting away/hanging out.

Where I believe the booking systems need to be fully respected - and, really, enforced - is in areas where platforms are limited and using natural tent sites in the surrounds is discouraged due to ongoing regeneration efforts. Much of the Western Arthurs, Rhona, Anne Circuit (though Lonely Tarns is fairly capacious now), Bechervaise and Hanging Lake all fall into this category. Case in point: we just returned from a six-day club walk into Fedders and - knowing full well Bechervaise has barely enough room for 7-8 people - booked months ago for our three days required to do Bechervaise-Hanging Lake-return.

Disappointingly but sorta unsurprisingly, we arrived back at Bechervaise fairly late on to several, mostly-interstate rock climbers who had completely taken over the platforms, hadn't booked in, were full of excuses ('but it's voluntary maaan...') and weren't even willing to attempt to make room for us as they still had mates walking in to meet them. Fortunately we had enough light left in the day to walk down to Lower Bechervaise which was a bit damp but comfortable enough. While PWS do suggest it as an overflow area, they are also trying to regenerate the area too, so our presence wasn't exactly helping matters even though we were being careful/sensible.

Unfortunately based on the sheer number of walkers we saw hiking in on our walk out, this scenario will no doubt be playing over daily for the next few months, both on Farmhouse Creek and elsewhere.

Personally I don't see the 'voluntary' aspect of the booking system working long term. I know why they've done it - they don't have the ranger numbers to actually enforce it, and hope enough people will do the right thing to improve overcrowding issues - but unfortunately the old adage of giving people an inch and they'll take a mile is too true often enough. Most bushwalking in Tasmania is restricted to the summer/autumn months and people are at the mercy of their travel plans/car hire/weather etc. I don't really want to get to the point where we're all forking out $50+ each time we walk, but honestly if it meant worrying about whether or not there'll be a spot for you at the end of each day went away and tracks got a little more maintenance, I'd happily pay it. Otherwise I see many tracks in Tassie going the way of Yosemite and other areas in the US where ballot systems and sheer luck seem to reign.
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Re: Walk Bookings.

Postby Tino B » Tue 25 Jan, 2022 11:15 am

May 2021 I did the ART, PW, Achilles, Perrin, Thetis, Ossa, PE circuit with a mate. I called PWS and they asked me to email an itinerary for the head ranger to approve.

I got our slots on the ART and was told to camp at Pelion on day 1 - Pillinger, Oakleigh, Pelion.

Camping at Leonard’s Tarn and the 3 tarns at the back of Ossa was allowed.

I want to take another mate on a similar circuit but also try to squeeze in Proteus. I called PWS to book ART and it was a débâcle with the person on the phone being incredibly uninformed. The ART bookings are not available except by emailing dates - I was informed.

Omicron intervened and delayed our trip so I think I’ll wait and try to make this a May 2022 trip when the ART will be less busy.
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