Following media statements released by Bushwalking Victoria and the Victorian National Parks Association (VNPA), Parks Victoria’s Draft Management Plan for the Falls to Hotham Alpine Crossing trail has been thrust into the spotlight.
The two groups raise concerns for the proposals within the plan, which include building four accommodation complexes (cabins and luxury camping sites), while also introducing more commercial activities such as guided walks and horseback rides.
According to ABC News, Stuart Hughes from Parks Victoria has said the development is intended to cater for everyone.
“The Alpine National Park is a very special place, so we want to make sure how the facilities would be developed is done sensitively,” he said.
“The accommodation is just one part of that. It is really though just to provide accommodation out of the elements.
“Everyone else would still be able to use the track and be able to camp.”
President of Bushwalking Victoria, Peter Campbell doesn’t believe the Draft Mangement Plan reflects this, with permits and restrictions proposed for recreational users that will restrict their access and may compromise their safety in severe weather conditions.
“The Draft Management Plan initially stated that recreational bushwalkers couldn’t camp within 500 metres of the route or proposed accommodation sites. This has since been adjusted that to 100 metres,” Campbell said, when interviewed by Wild today. “That figure is still completely arbitrary and reflects Parks Victoria’s lack of consideration of the needs and safety of recreational users.
“Bushwalking Victoria does not support the construction of major, permanent and visually obtrusive infrastructure along the proposed Falls to Hotham route such as the accommodation proposed to be built on the pristine Diamantina Spur.
“Commercial tour operators are being prioritised and catered for in the draft management plan to the detriment of the general public and landscape values.”
On the VNPA’s website, the association calls out the government and relevant agencies for their ‘tunnel vision’ when it comes to the plans.
‘It appears investment in national parks is suffering from policy tunnel vision focusing on poorly conceived overnight tracks, trails, and luxury huts aimed at untested high-end tourism markets to the detriment and exclusion of everyday Victorian bushwalkers.
‘Government agencies seem intent on implementing old, flawed Coalition policies by stealth, even though the ALP has a clear policy stance against these strategies. In the meantime, core funding for park management remains seriously underfunded.’
Submissions to Parks Victoria in response to the proposals are open to the general public until the 27th of January. Send your response to firstname.lastname@example.org.