Newsroom

Great Lake trail plans facing opposition

Have you heard of the Great Lake Adventure Trail project?

Neither had we, but behind the scenes momentum has been building to create a 100 km adventure trail looping around yingina/Great Lake in the Central Highlands for walking and bike riding.

But opposition to the plan is starting to build from some of the people who own shacks and hunt and fish in the area, with a petition against the trail on change.org already attracting hundreds of signatures.

The Trail Timeline

Track builders World Trail were commissioned by Johns Group, which owns the Great Lake Hotel, to produce a feasibility study for the trail back in 2019. Since then World Trail and Johns Group have been refining the concept and talking to Hydro Tasmania and the Parks and Wildlife Service (the land owners) about the details.

The Johns Group are redeveloping the Great Lake Hotel over the coming years to increase the accommodation capacity of the hotel as well as creating a caravan and camping area. It is also involved in sponsoring fly-fishing competitions in Tasmania.

Tasmanian Government ministers and federal parliamentarians have been briefed, and the Central Highlands Council has provided “in principle” support for the project, subject to planning considerations.

It is not clear whether the project has been going through the Expressions of Interest process for public land the Tasmanian Government has been running for the past few years. As part of the proposed trail would cross over the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area it would need a Reserve Activity Assessment as well as usual planning approvals, although the proponents say the suggested route is mostly on Hydro reserve land surrounding the lake.

The Trail Concept

A 95–105 km trail of 1.2–1.8 metres width with a hardened surface would be built around the Great Lake on land owned by the government (Hydro Tasmania and the Parks and Wildlife Service) that could be used by people walking or riding. There would be points along the trail where people could exit to access private accommodation or return to the car park.

The target market for the trail is “adventure seeking” visitors, and e-bike riders are seen as a significant potential group of users.

While people who like to mountain bike would be targetted, the trail will not be built as a mountain bike trail but rather a cross-country or “enduro” style trail that can easily be walked or ridden. The trail would be ridden clockwise from Liawenee, although the section between Liawenee and Tods Corner could be either way.

Parking for trail users would be provided at Miena at the Great Lake Hotel development and there is also the possibility of a shuttle bus and boat to pick people up along the trail.

The project proponent estimates it will cost $7–8 million to build and is looking for state and federal government funding to cover the cost.

The Opposition

A petition has been posted opposing the trail on change.org, which uses some of the arguments we’ve heard before against rail trails. The petition wording is:

“The great lake has long been a fishing and hunting area. We believe that the proposed bike walking trail will have a great impact on the traditions and practices that have been happening in this area for generations, with increased traffic on the narrow roads, more rubbish and litter, reduced privacy for permanent and holiday dwellers and an increased rate of thefts and vandalism. It is our belief that the landscape and forna [sic] will be greatly disturbed and taking away the ruggedness and beauty of the foreshore. we also believed that this will also add to the costs associated with the shack and land owners with increases to rates and land tax as well as insurance. We are not against a bike walking trail as we suggest that it could be relocated behind the great lake hotel were [sic] people can still enjoy the atmosphere and remoteness of the area.” 

Other comments from petition signatories include concerns about the area being taken over by tourists, too much development disturbing the area’s peace and solitude, the effect on ability to hunt, a belief there are already enough bike trails in Tasmania, that trails won’t get used, and that people riding and walking would be too noisy and scare the fish away.

A Facebook group has also started up as part of the campaign against the trail.

The opposition campaign has only formalised over the past week or so, so it remains to be seen whether it builds to such an extent that it stops further work on the trail concept.

Main image: www.jjharrison.com.au