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Tourism development in protected areas – Analysis by John Souter

Nothing dollarable is safe, however guarded.

What was true in the USA in 1909, when legendary American conservation crusader John Muir wrote those words, remains equally true in Australia in 2023. As proof, look no further than the suite of developments and proposals for tourism development in protected areas multiplying throughout the national parks estate. The race to commercialisation in some of our protected places has become a vexed issue.

The popularity of Tasmania’s Three Capes Walk has had mainland state bureaucracies salivating at the prospect of emulating the feat, even though there’s no telling whether it is actually making money for Tasmanian Parks and Wildlife. Commercial-in-confidence provisions in the relevant leasing and licensing contracts see to that. The ‘iconic walk’ fairy dust is now being sprinkled liberally all over the place. And with the iconic walk sobriquet invariably comes the business case pressure to commercialise and privatise in some way.

Thus we have the Australian Walking Company succeeding in its proposal to build eco-pods in the Flinders Chase National Park on Kangaroo Island, in which to house its guided walking clients on the 5-day Kangaroo Island Wilderness Trail. Expect to pay around $800 per night per person for the privilege. In this case the word ‘wilderness’ is something of a marketing tool but there have been serious proposals by such companies to build luxury accommodation in more remote designated wilderness areas: an unsolicited (and unsuccessful) proposal to do so on the Kanangra to Katoomba (K to K) walk through the Kanangra-Boyd and Blue Mountains Wilderness areas a few years ago springs to mind.

Such proposals are concocted, oblivious to the fact that the phrases ‘wilderness lodge’ ‘wilderness resort’ or even ‘wilderness hut’ are all oxymorons. But most of our national parks are not declared wilderness and the legal restraints that apply are fewer.

In coastal southern Queensland, there’s a proposal to build 10 ‘eco’ huts sixty metres up the banks of perched Poona Lake near Rainbow Beach in Great Sandy National Park to facilitate commercial guided walking on the Cooloola Great Walk. This national park also encompasses k’gari (Fraser Island); it’s only k’gari’s protection as a world heritage site preventing such development there.

Meanwhile, Victoria has come up with the Falls to Hotham Alpine Crossing that will stretch an overnight backpack walk into a 5-day, 57-kilometre affair at the cost of many tens of millions of dollars. The consequent ‘low impact’ huts (with up to 10 two or three-person huts, a communal hut and two toilets at each site, this is more akin to a mini mountain village) are to be built at taxpayer expense but not available to the independent walker: the ‘preferred model’ is to lease them to a single private operator who would also operate the high-end accommodation and guided hiking package at around $800 per night.

Parks Victoria has already set its own precedent with the huts it had constructed at two walk-in campsites along the northern section of the new Grampians-Peaks-Trail. You can stay in these 4-person eco-huts so long as you employ the guiding and cooking services of either the Grampian Peaks Walking Company or Raw Travel and sign up for a 3-day guided walk: expect to pay around $900 each per night. When not being used by the two commercial operators (that is, most of the time), the huts lie unoccupied.

New South Wales has come late to the party but is busily making up for lost time. First up on the far south coast, the controversial Light to Light Walk upgrade, featuring two new huts. An earlier version of the proposal, modified after a public backlash, excluded independent walkers from camping at certain scenic sites and sought to force them to camp at the existing and less salubrious drive-in camp sites. The stay at the Green Cape lighthouse at walk’s end will be available exclusively to Light to Light walkers and will no doubt be bulk booked by commercial operators who will likewise seek access to the new huts on a bulk-booked basis.

At $56 million, the 4-day Dorrigo Escarpment Great Walk will also have 3 new (basic) huts and campsites and a swish new Rainforest Visitor Centre. It is unclear whether it will be publicly managed or not: the department website states, ominously, that detailed operational procedures and pricing are not yet provided.

No such ambiguity with the proposed Great Southern Walk between Kurnell and Sublime Point. This 67-kilometre walk traversing Kamay Botany Bay NP, Royal NP and the Illawarra Escarpment State Conservation Area, is already open for Expressions of Interest to find a suitable delivery partner even though no new infrastructure has been built yet. Once the new huts and campsites are completed, the suitable partner will ‘help run the guided walking and manage the new camping experiences using the new facilities’: more outsourcing to a private operator on an exclusive basis. The rationale for this – and I quote – ‘it … allows us [NPWS] to get on with managing our visitors and conserving the natural and cultural values of the national park.’ [Department of Environment website]

Apparently, managing walkers’ huts and campsites isn’t considered by NPWS to be part of managing visitors. If NPWS lacks the expertise to do so it should be recruiting skilled staff because the ‘provision for sustainable visitor or tourist use and enjoyment…’ is one of the legislated management principles under which it operates. You can bet that if a guided-walks operator is managing the new huts, their clients will get priority or even exclusivity, with independent walkers relegated to the camping platforms.

For something far more egregious, look to the plans for the long awaited and recently created Gardens of Stone State Conservation Area (SCA). No sooner had it been declared than a draft Plan of Management was released for public consultation. The problem with this slimline document was it had almost nothing of substance in it. All detail of what is being proposed for the SCA – a veritable theme park in the park’s ‘Lost City’ area – was devolved to a separate document: a draft Master Plan for the delivery of $50 million-worth of eco-adventure tourism.

The problem (or, more cynically, the trick) is that the master plan is a non-statutory document – it doesn’t need to be adopted by the Environment Minister, nor would it require public consultation to alter it; it could be changed at will. Along with zip-line courses, a via ferrata rock scrambling course and 4WD touring routes, there will be the multi-day hut-to-hut Wollemi Great Walk. No doubt, the huts, to be built with taxpayer funding, will again be effectively privatised through a long-term lease to a ‘preferred operator’, an all-too-familiar trope.

There are other ways of operating such long-distance walks that are still compatible with the high-end market. You can walk Victoria’s popular Great Ocean Walk the luxe way, staying off-park each night at the same luxury walkers lodge (midway at Johanna, which is not part of the park) and being transported with your daypack each day to the trailhead. Similarly, WA’s Cape to Cape Walk can be done in guided luxury, staying at Margaret River.

Kosciuszko’s new 55-km, 4-day Snowies Alpine Walk between Guthega and Lake Crackenback (Thredbo River) will be able to be walked self-guided or guided but staying at existing infrastructure at Guthega, Charlotte Pass and Perisher. Close to home, Shoalhaven’s soon-to-open 34-km Murramarang Coast Walk can be walked pack-free and with a roof over your head, staying either off-park (operators are already advertising guided package deals) or on-park at pre-existing accommodation, for example the cabins at Pebbly Beach, Depot Beach and Pretty Beach. But with bureaucracies feeling the political imperative to monetise the national parks estate in return for the sudden windfall funding for tourist infrastructure, this model seems to be on the wane. Put simply, there’s not enough money in it.

The argument is inevitably made that guided hut-to-hut walks increase equity of access by enabling people to complete such walks who would not otherwise be able to do so. This may be true in theory but in practice, the high costs of such guided walks in Australia preclude the majority of people availing themselves of the opportunity.

I recently attended a full-day symposium organised by Bushwalking NSW on Tourism in Protected Areas and not surprisingly, several of these case studies were discussed. It’s fair to say there wasn’t a lot of love in the room for commercial enterprises seeking exclusivity or for National Parks management seeking to outsource responsibility for managing the assets that are, after all, publicly owned and taxpayer funded.

So what is a reasonable stance to take on these issues? There is a (hard)core of bushwalkers who decry any roofed accommodation and related infrastructure ever being built in our national parks. They would hold to the idea that only self-reliant and self-sufficient walkers have any place venturing there on multi-day excursions. This is not what I’m advocating here. I don’t have an in-principle problem with huts in our national parks – either pre-existing or newly-built – if they are truly low-key, sensitively placed and having a low environmental impact. Huts have a particularly valuable place in more hostile environments and I’ve slept in plenty over the years. It’s the model that’s the problem. Given that our national parks and other such protected areas are all public land (unlike, say, European national parks), my first objection is to any form of de facto privatisation: giving commercial entities exclusive long-term leases on public infrastructure or on land on which to build their own.

I don’t object to paying a (modest) premium for staying in a basic hut rather than using an associated campsite. But there should always be a choice. Nor do I object to commercial operators providing guiding, cooking, pack transportation, food drops, trailhead client transport and the like under an appropriate licensing agreement. But such arrangements should be transparent, contestable and nonexclusive and the financial details should not be shrouded in commercial-in-confidence.

My biggest objection is to any attempts to mandate the use of huts, private or public, as a precondition for undertaking a multi-day walk a la the Three Capes Walk template. At the end of his presentation at the above-mentioned symposium, I asked a very senior NPWS manager why the Green Gully track – a 65-km walk in the NSW Oxley Wild Rivers National Park – is off limits to tent-based walkers. Self-guided walkers are required to move each day between the 5 pre-booked, six-person huts for which solo bookings are not accepted. The cost, though a small fraction of comparable commercial guided walks, is considerably higher than the Overland Track. I got a sheepish reply that this walk’s overly prescriptive regulation is an aberration, a mistake not to be repeated. I fear otherwise.

 

 

Camp Quality Sydney Trek

Camp Quality’s Sydney Trek is on 17-18 September where participants trek 50km in 24 hours for kids facing cancer.

To successfully run the event, Camp Quality are looking to recruit at least 120 volunteers. Every single volunteer will play a critical role in helping to deliver a safe and fun event and raise funds to support families facing cancer.

There are a range of roles available, but many would really benefit from teams of people that already know each other.

Volunteers can select more active roles that involve walking long distances or can choose a less physically demanding role and work at one site for the duration of their shift.

As a team, participants could run a Fun Stop together, managing the Start Line or Finish line, or for a more active roles, mark a section of the trail or act as one of our Tail End Charlie teams.

A trail marking shift or Tail End Charlie shift involves walking a section of the trail (sections range from 8.5km to 20km) and either placing marking equipment or removing the marking equipment. For all roles, there are shifts available across both the day and night, with the average shift length being around 4 – 9 hours with breaks.

Those who are interested should contact Sophie Gallagher​ at Camp Quality on (02) 9876 0594.  Alternatively you can sign up online to volunteer here.

Oxfam Trailwalker Sydney 26-28 August 2022

Oxfam Trailwalker Sydney 2022: Event Volunteers needed!

Oxfam Trailwalker is a community event that brings people together from all walks of life. Event organisers are looking for dedicated volunteers to create an incredible experience for teams, helping them walk 100km in 48 hours to raise much needed funds to tackle poverty. The event from the Hawkesbury to the Harbour spans across nine locations from Parsley Bay through to Bobbin Head and finishes at the scenic Tania Park. There are volunteer roles to suit everyone!

Trail Markers & Sweep Teams

Being based in the bush, the event requires keen and active bush walkers to head out and mark sections of the trail prior to the event and then sweep sections of the trail as final walkers walk through. This is done in groups of approximately 4 volunteers per section.

Checkpoint Crew

Checkpoint Crew look after walkers as they rest along the 100km journey at checkpoints, making sure they have the support and supplies they need. You will assist with timing points, walker retirements, and general operations.

Perks?
  • Walk for Free at any Oxfam Trailwalker event in 2023!
  • Have a fulfilling feeling of giving back to the community and helping others in need around the world!
  • Receive an Oxfam Trailwalker volunteer gift
How to sign up?

Fill in this Expression of Interest form here or head here to find out more.

Bushwalking NSW 2022 Photo Competition

Show us your best shots!

Do you take beautiful photos of people and scenery when you are walking?

We want to share them with the world!

Enter our 2022 Photo Competition to see your photos featured in our newsletter and on our website and to be in the running for a great prize from Paddy Pallin. The competition closes on 30 March 2022.

You can share these types of photos:

  • NSW/ACT national park scene
  • People bushwalking in NSW/ACT
  • NSW/ACT wildlife
  • Website banner sized 1000 x 250 pixels to illustrate any BNSW web page

To enter simply email your images or a public link to your photos (eg google drive, dropbox or photo share apps) to Bushwalking NSW here.

There’s $245 of great prizes to be won courtesy of Paddy Pallin.

1 Arcade Adventure Belt

1 Camelbak Chute Mag 750ml bottle

1 Sea to Summit 2 Piece Dining Kit

1 Osprey Ultralight Roll Organiser

1 Inflatable Solar Light

1 North Face Horizon Breeze Brim Hat

Prizes courtesy of Paddy Pallin

Please note that by submitting images to this competition, you acknowledge that:

  1. You possess copyright to the images,
  2. You give Bushwalking NSW permission to use your images in any Bushwalking NSW website, newsletter, social media, email, online and printed publications without attribution, and
  3. You warrant that Bushwalking NSW will not infringe any copyright by using the images you have supplied in any way.

Thank you for sharing the beauty of our bushland and wildlife with the world!

 

 

GET Ground Truther’s Competition

Great Escarpment Trail

Paddy Pallin

Ground Truther’s Competition

18th January, 2022

We are looking for people who can “ground truth” the Great Escarpment Trail (GET). We need to you to walk the trail and try out the campsites and adjacent accommodation, food and transport options. We then want a trip report from you on the good and the bad of the section you walked. We would love to see your photos, videos, maps and track notes on anything and everything of note.

You could also win yourself some great Paddy Pallin gear! Just share with us:

  • the best photos and video taken of spectacular sights along the GET
  • videos and photos that capture the essence of the GET
  • the best 3-day-2-night and 6-day-5-night walk/experience along the GET
  • the best track notes or best name for a 3-day-2-night or 6-day-5-night walk within the GET

Every 6 months we will award a prize in each of these categories:

  1. The most spectacular photo or video taken on/from the GET track, campgrounds or accommodation
  2. The best video or photo displaying the unique character of the GET track, campgrounds and accommodation – a photo that tells the viewer the best thing/s about the GET experience – it could be sitting around a campfire, your mates gazing at a view, an abundant moss & lichen garden – whatever strikes you as the essence of “The best of the GET”
  3. The best idea for a 3-day-2-night or 6-day-5-night walking adventure/experience along the GET – the experience could involve spending a final day at a resort at the end of the trail, or staying an extra night along the trail to do side-trips – tell us the most exhilarating 3 or 6 day experience you can envisage on the GET
  4. The best track notes or best name for a 3-day or 6-day walk along the GET. We would love to see photos of track junctions and wayfinding indicators.

Things you can share about the section you walk are:

  • good photographs
  • whether the route is easy to follow
  • mobile phone coverage
  • identifying hazard points, like watercourse crossings, bad erosion, steep inclines, fences, gates, and access.
  • places of scenic interest
  • potential locations of campsites
  • any commercial operator along the trail that services bushwalkers, like accommodation providers, shops, roadside stalls, etc.  For example the Styx River Forest Station is listed as a free camp as it is on a main road.
  • anything else that may strike you.

Paddy Pallin have generously contributed these great prizes for the 4 categories:

1 x PAT Altvia pack 22L Abalone Blue- L: https://www.paddypallin.com.au/patagonia-altvia-22-pack.html

1 x KNO Bandicoot 250- Blue: https://www.paddypallin.com.au/knog-bandicoot-250-lumen-rechargable-headlamp.html

1 x  OPT Crux Lite Stove: https://www.paddypallin.com.au/optimus-crux-lite-stove.html

1 x Pure Race starter pack bottle: https://www.paddypallin.com.au/pure-sports-nutrition-race-starter-pack-bottle.html

Paddy Pallin Prizes

How to enter

Firstly, contact  Gavin Dale – Bushwalking NSW Operations on operations@bushwalkingnsw.org.au to receive the latest track notes and maps for the sections of track that you’d like to walk.

On your walk, take note of any improvements/corrections you would suggest to the track notes. Record your experience of the trail in words and photos. And think about what would make an awesome 3-day-2-night or 6-day-5-night walk along the GET.

On your return home simply email your entry photos and feedback to Gavin at operations@bushwalkingnsw.org.au. Attach your images to your email or include a public link to your photos (eg google drive, dropbox or photo share apps).

Please share photos and video with the highest resolution and quality possible.

Terms & Conditions

Photos with the best photo quality will be more likely to win. We would love to know who was the photographer for each photo however please note that by submitting photographs to this competition, you acknowledge that:

  • you possess copyright to the images,
  • you give Bushwalking NSW Inc (BNSW), Bushwalking Queensland Inc. (BWQ) and The Great Escarpment Trail Inc. (GET) permission to use the images you supply in any BNSW, BWQ or GET website, newsletter, social media, email, online and printed publications without attribution, and
  • you warrant that BNSW, BWQ and GET will not infringe any copyright by using the images you have supplied in any way.

We will contact the winners via their email address and publish the name of the winners in our monthly newsletter. Any prize that isn’t claimed within 1 month of the email being sent to the winner will be forfeited and will go into the next 6 month prize draw. Prizes for categories that haven’t received entries will go into the next 6 month draw.

 

Wishing you well in your ground truthing. We hope you have a great time!

 

Light to Light Walk, Ben Boyd National Park

Ben Boyd NP - Andrew Connor

Ben Boyd NP – Andrew ConnorLight to Light Walk, Ben Boyd National Park

Light to Light Walk, Ben Boyd National Park

In 2019 the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) exhibited a draft Light to Light Walk Strategy along with amendments to the Ben Boyd NP Plan of Management. The draft Strategy proposed a signature multi-day coastal walk, transforming the existing campground walk experience with hut to hut and lighthouse style accommodation in addition to new walk-in campgrounds. There were also proposed realignments to the existing track. As well as forcing independent walkers and others into formal campgrounds, the draft Strategy also proposed the prohibition of bush camping along the walking route.

The public exhibition attracted over 200 submissions, including from Bushwalking NSW Inc and bushwalking clubs. NPWS has now released the final Strategy and Plan of Management Amendments along with a report on submissions made and responses. These documents can be accessed here.

The final Strategy delivers much of what was proposed in the draft, although changes have been made to address some of the concerns raised during the exhibition period.

Bush camping will be allowed at Mowarry Point although it is unclear if the existing area will need expansion over time. NPWS will not co-locate independent camping with accommodation at Hegartys Bay. Independent camping will be relocated from Hegartys Bay to purpose built walk-in only sites at Bittangabee Bay. A separate group camping area will also be developed at Bittangabee Bay. Given the new facilities proposed at Mowarry Point, NPWS will no longer construct purpose built walk-in only campsites at Saltwater Creek. Two new hut accommodation sites at Mowarry Point and Hegartys Bay are proposed to cater for a maximum of 36 walkers per night. The existing accommodation at Green Cape Lightstation will be reconfigured to accommodate 36 walkers.

The Strategy confirms that the new accommodation will be managed by NPWS rather than a commercial operator.

The proposed walk has been awarded $7.9 million funding by the Regional Growth – Environment and Tourism Fund program, an initiative of the NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment. Subject to approvals, work on the first stage was expected to commence in late 2021 and be completed in late 2022. Before work commenced, a Review of Environmental Factors was released for public comment.

To assist with the implementation of the Strategy, NPWS will be establishing a Light to Light Walk Stakeholder Reference Group. It is hoped that this group will include representation from the bushwalking community.

Review of Environmental Factors Released for Public Comment

NPWS has also released a Review of Environmental Factors (REF) to inform the proposed upgrades to the Light to Light Walk. The REF is open for consultation until 15 October 2021. BNSW Inc will be making a submission on the REF and affiliated clubs are encourage to do likewise. The REF and accompanying documentation can be found here.

 

 

St John Ambulance First Aid Course Updates

Volunteer St John Ambulance trainer, Belinda Keir, has been instructing First Aid at Senior level since before 2000. Belinda’s practical teaching methods have helped to raise the level of First Aid knowledge within bushwalking clubs. Belinda was recently awarded the Bushwalking NSW 2020 Chardon Award.

St John Ambulance first aid courses have recently changed so it is recommended that Clubs check course codes on the Bushwalking NSW First Aid Training page. The course code for Provide First Aid is now HLTAID011 instead of HLTAID003 and for Provide First Aid in a Remote or Isolated Situation is now HLTAID013 instead of HLTAID005. The change in course codes mean that all class ID numbers have been revised. You will need to quote the correct class ID to book any course. As our next Remote course is only a few weeks away, we would be grateful if this could be done as soon as possible.

People who have a less than 12 months old HLTAID003 or HLTAID011 Provide First Aid certificate can request a credit transfer for Provide First Aid in a Remote or Isolated Situation. This gets a discount in time (you don’t need to attend day one) but not a price discount. Credit transfers can take time to arrange and need to be organised well before the course. Please request a credit transfer form when you enrol and return it with evidence of your current HLTAID003 or HLTAID011 certificate. This will be verified by St John and if a credit transfer is granted it will be attached to the class roll.

Please note that while class size limits are currently 18, this could change due to COVID. While the two remote courses are put on our calendar for bushwalkers, there is usually space in other Provide First Aid courses which are offered to members of Scouts NSW.

In 2022 it is anticipated that Provide First Aid in a Remote or Isolated Situation HLTAID013 courses for bushwalkers and Scouts will run at Barra Brui (St Ives) over two weekends in February, July and November.

Keith Maxwell has stated:

“I have always thought that an important role for Search and Rescue/Bushwalking NSW was to encourage the spread of First Aid knowledge throughout the bushwalking clubs. For example, the Bush Club runs its own stream of First Aid training. Training for their Club walks leaders is fully subsidised by the club”.

Kirsten Mayer, Executive Officer of Bushwalking NSW Inc said:

“First Aid training is important for our clubs and we are so grateful to the entire team of Scouts and St John Ambulance volunteers who facilitate and deliver this training. All of this volunteer effort keeps the price very low for our bushwalkers. We encourage our club members to undertake this training. We also encourage our clubs to consider subsidising First Aid training for walks’ leaders.”

The Jack Mundey Spirit Lives On

Peter Stevens, a past President of the Wolli Creek Preservation Society, has been
honoured by Canterbury-Bankstown Council with its inaugural Jack Mundey Environment
and Heritage Award.

 

“This is recognition of Peter’s long-term commitment to the completion of the Wolli
Creek Regional Park, established and grown as the result of community pressure, led by
the Society, over several decades.’ said Gina Svolos, the present President of the Society.

“The Park is now nearing completion and Peter has renewed his commitment by
organising to protect the Wolli Creek Valley bushland and the Regional Park from the
proposed location of an industrial plant within the Park boundaries. The proposal would
have negative effects on both the natural environment and a heritage-listed structure,
the two things cited in the Award, and for which Jack Mundey as an initiator of Green
Bans is rightly famous.”

“There is a better alternative nearby: a vacant, government-owned, non-bushland site,
outside the Park boundaries that we want Sydney Water to use.” Ms Svolos emphasised.
Mr Stevens reports that, working with the Nature Conservation Council of NSW, the
Society’s petition to the Minister for Water, Melinda Payne, passed 3,000 signatures on
February 10 and is still growing.

“That is a thousand signatures a week since its launch,” Mr Stevens said, “and over 100
of these are from interstate and many more from regional NSW and urban areas remote
from the Wolli Creek Valley. Which goes to show that while people may leave the Valley,
the Valley does not leave their memory or their concern.”

See here to sign the petition.

Contact: Gina Svolos President 0431 308 303
Media Contact: Peter Stevens 0412 596 874

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Vale David Atkins

VALE DAVID ATKINS (8th June 1942 – 4th Jan 2021)

Many gathered to pay their respects to and celebrate a most remarkable person who made a sizeable contribution to our community, Wayne David Atkins, fondly known as Akky by many. David had a life-long keen interest in bushwalking and skiing and, more latterly, bicycling as well as caving and conservation in his earlier years. He  greatly enjoyed these and generously put considerable effort into serving the community to foster, share and protect these interests.

David joined the Launceston Walking Club (LWC) when 16 years old. I first met him about 50 years ago when encountering an LWC walk at Lake Promontory in poor weather. There he was helping cut wood for a fire to make his party more  comfortable; it was obvious he had come well prepared for the conditions. Later I  spent many years working closely with him on behalf ofTasmania’s peak bushwalking  body, and the national bushwalking body. I found David utterly dedicated to protecting bushwalking in Tasmania, and nationally. He was always reliable,  supportive and helpful. During that time I never heard him grumble about the work  involved, even if he did about some wanting to cull some aspect of customary bushwalking.

Apart from David’s greatly valued efforts for the Launceston Walking Club (LWC), who  awarded him Life Membership in 1980, there is his huge service to the wider  community stemming from his appointment as a Delegate of that Club to the  Federation of Tasmanian Bushwalking Clubs (FTBC), which has since transformed itself  into Bushwalking Tasmania (BWT), to represent all Tasmanian bushwalkers. As a well engaged and valued member of the two State bushwalking organisations, David was  soon appointed to key roles, and held important roles for many years; at least 21 years. At various times he was elected President or Secretary.  

David was very active representing both the LWC and the wider Tasmanian  bushwalking community through his actions and words. David had some particularly  useful attributes for such key positions. He was prepared to take on roles and duties  that others shied from. Whether a key role or not, David was always prepared to stand up to the unreasonable and stubborn who acted against Tasmanian walker  interests. David was persistent when merited. Sometimes David showed quite a sense of humour in adverse situations – usually dry, so not recognized by all. On the odd occasion he would deliberately show emotive anger to a Minister of the head of PWS. This sometimes put them on the back-foot.

David was unafraid to speak bluntly or write a blunt letter when he disagreed with something. There was a decisive late letter sent to the then Nomenclature Board  when Parks wanted to delist two used tracks, that would have the consequence of  barring anyone marking or maintaining the tracks. The Board thought it wise to have a recreation person on their body.  Delegates to Bushwalking Tasmania very much appreciated David’s dedication, work  and passion, and felt comfortable about his representingtheir views, even if not some  of his spelling.

When a national bushwalker body was to be formed, David attended the inaugural  meeting and joined the inaugural governing body. He served on that Bushwalking  Australia Council for 18 years, including as the national Secretary from 2016 to 2019,  leaving just over a year ago when Genevieve, his wife, took up a position in  Queensland. When national bushwalker conferences were to be held in Tasmania.  David took care of the local logistics, accommodation and eating arrangements for all attendees. He certainly made sure of good value without things being scrappy – well done David! He even went out of his way to do airport pickups, apparently most at his own expense. This is the kind of thing that is invaluable to volunteer organisations who have limited funds.  

David cared about how walkers and volunteers were treated. For instance, he put effort into arranging facilities and some nibbles for volunteers when re-establishing  the Cuvier Track. This included free shelter, showers and kitchen facilities. This kind of effort helps attract volunteers, and shows appreciation.  In recognition of his lengthy, broad and deep service, Bushwalking Tasmania has received emails of condolence from all over Australia, as well as diverse places and people in Tasmania. A rare honour! 

David’s love of the bush and his passion to ensure that bushwalkers retain rights of access to all areas of the bush is one of his many enduring legacies. During his service for Bushwalking Tasmania, at various times, a Minister of the day appointed him and  another BWT person to an additional body to deal with particular issues. A key group was the Track Assessment Group that eventually overturned a plan for an expensive booking system for all overnight walking in the Tasmanian 

Wilderness World Heritage Area. That would have seen a major decline in our ability to walk in the TWWHA due to unreasonably low walker quotas. The Track Assessment Group met for two days a month over three years, often with considerable pre-meeting material to read – it  required considerable effort and dedication.

Many remember David’s determination and fight to ensure bushwalkers would continue to have access to the Cape Pillar area. It was intended that we walkers would no longer be able to do overnight walks in the area unless doing an expensive hut to hut walk, although Tasmanian bushwalkers had put in thousands of man-days to make the first tracks and campsites to establish the great coastal bushwalking there.  

After petitioning and meeting the Minister about our concerns, we were appointed to the Three Capes Reference Group. David & I did several trips to the Cape Pillar/Three Capes area to plot all the campsites then ask we retain only three existing sites as formal sites to continue our customary use of the area. At his own initiative, David  saw the local council and promptly got them on side. After three years pushing to retain customary access and use, the goal was achieved.  

During our efforts to reach the goal, David & I spent two days hiding from helicopters  that were carrying building materials for the 3CT. That trip was to inspect and map all sites with evidence of camping. At the time, the whole 3CT area was actually closed  to walkers, but we needed the data to argue our position to retain the most suitable  campsites for Tasmanian walkers. Should we have been sprung, I suppose we could have said we were doing it for the Minister. 

In general, David spoke strongly on behalf of walkers whenever he saw unreasonable  encroachments on walkers’ customary use. For instance, we made many  representations and wrote several submissions to stop over-zealous constraints on walkers doing their well-established overnight walks that use part of Overland Track.  Some of the constraints had put walkers in danger. David also spoke publicly strongly  against the upmarket commercial development of Lake Malbena in the TWWHA.  David saw the rationale for these as commercialism displacing customary use for the  benefit of the wealthier. Something many more now recognize as happening more  generally. David was so strongly opposed to the Overland Track constraints, he  attended many a meeting in Hobart and elsewhere to help loosen the constraints.

David helped write countless other submissions on behalf of Tasmanian bushwalkers  over many years with BWT & FTBC. It can take considerable effort to write  submissions that have to research then articulate and justify the walker position when plans are based on opposing values. 

David was so committed to seeing walkers maintain their ability to communicate their issues, that for the first half of 2020, he voluntarily filled in as Secretary for BWT while in Queensland. Thus, David is one of the very few to receive a certificate of award from Bushwalking  Tasmania to recognize his outstanding service to bushwalking. The award is so well deserved. He held BWT together at one time when all other delegates would have BWT serve them; quite a responsibility for him.  

I also met David at Ben Lomond associated with skiing and skiing races. There he belonged to a neat lodge, Ben Bullen along the Carr Villa Track to Legges Tor. At Ben Lomond David often appeared early in the day to help set up and run skiing races for a number of years where I was able to help him carry the considerable equipment using an oversnow vehicle.  

These few examples of what David willingly did, demonstrate the community-minded effort David was prepared to make on behalf of all Tasmanians, many of whom remain unaware of the efforts that are required to maintain our way of life.  

Of course David & I did a few walks. These mainly in his later years where we often had to talk about and resolve walking issues. In his positions with Bushwalking  Tasmania, he was a gracious host in order to facilitate meetings and discussions. I was privileged to stay at his and Genevieve’s home and beach house many times to facilitate bushwalking business. David was also prepared to drive from one end of the State to another to get bushwalking business done. On many occasions he drove to the south or far south to meet Ministers, the head of PWS, other PWS staff or myself.  One time he drove all the way to Strathgordon just to have a brief meeting with an HEC officer to pursue access over the Gordon Dam. It was such selfless effort! 

David will be remembered and appreciated by the LWC, BWT, BAI and others for the  dedicated passionate person he was and for his enormous contribution towards making LWC & BWT what they are today. He will be honoured and remembered at  the Tasmanian Arboretum, as his name W. David Atkins will be added to the LWC Deceased Life Members tree. 

David’s main recreational legacy additional to the achievements mentioned, is that more Government Authorities now realise that Tasmanian walkers are keen to have their customary recreation and traditional uses protected. Most Authorities have, and are taking more action to aid this. There is also the legacy of the conservation movement in Tasmanian that David helped initiate, stemming from the flooding of Lake Peddar. Many individuals benefitted by learning about how to handle themselves well in the bush or on snow via Scouting, club and family events that David coordinated or was heavily involved in. … 

It was such an unexpected loss of so remarkable a person. David will be hard to replace, and much missed. We are privileged to have known him. His was a life well lived. I for one will miss David greatly – and wish that he may enjoy great walking throughout eternity.  

On behalf of Bushwalking Tasmania, Bushwalking Australia, Bushwalking Queensland,  Bushwalking NSW Inc., Walking SA, Hobart Walking Club, Circular  Head Walking Club, Launceston Ramblers Club, HikeWest (formerly Bushwalking  Western Australia), Bushwalking Victoria and personally I extend my deepest  sympathy and best wishes to Genevieve, David’s children, grandchildren, siblings and other relatives, and all of his friends. 

Dr Andrew Davey

President, Bushwalking Tasmania 

Council Member, Bushwalking Australia

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Springwood Bushwalking Club Celebrates 50th Anniversary with Memoir Launch

Springwood Bushwalking Club is concluding a year of celebrations for its 50th anniversary with the launch of their Club memoir entitled “Adventures, Friends and Memories,” on 27th August 2017 at Wentworth Falls.

This book captures some of the many adventures SBC members have experienced, and celebrates the wonderful memories those adventures have provided. Through the Club and its activities, members have formed many lifelong friendships. This 250+ page book is full of amusing stories, anecdotes and photos from throughout its life. It includes the way the Club has changed over the years, as well as reminiscences from former and current members. Each decade of the club is covered extensively, including details of day and extended trips, travel, conservation and social activities, membership, gear and incidents. The final chapters highlight the Life members of SBC and its 50 year celebrations to date.

Anyone who has been a member of SBC will enjoy reading and remembering some of these sojourns into the bush. Those who are not SBC members will be inspired to enjoy the outdoors in a similar way.

You can order your own copy of “Adventures, Friends and Memories” for $25 (+$12 for postage if required). To order, send a bank transfer to:

SBC Special Purpose Account
St George Bank
BSB 112 879
Acc. No. 412 429 591

Along with an email advising your name, contact number, address and how many books (+ postage if required) you have ordered to info@springwoodbushwalker.org.au.

If you would like to attend the book launch, please get in touch with SBC by email for more details.