Walls of Jerusalem tourism project stalled

CLOCK STOPPER: Halls Island can host tourism developments, despite the World Heritage status of the Walls of Jerusalem.
CLOCK STOPPER: Halls Island can host tourism developments, despite the World Heritage status of the Walls of Jerusalem.

The approval process for a proposed eco-tourism development at the Walls of Jerusalem has been stalled after complaints by the Wilderness Society. 

A proposal to build luxury accommodation at Halls Island, Lake Malbena under the name of Wild Drake was being processed by the federal Environment and Energy Department through a referral process. 

While the referral was going through its community consultation period, the department ordered the developer, Wild Drake, to provide more documentation.

“We have paused the statutory 20-day referral decision clock so that the proponent can supply extra information that the department has requested,” a department spokesman said.

The proposed development would see three timber and steel buildings house visitors, who would partake in kayaking, bush walking, cultural interpretation, art, botany and bird watching. 

Guests would be flown into the area by helicopter from the Derwent Bridge. The helicopter landing site would be to the east of the island, outside the national park.

Wild Drake co-owner Daniel Hackett said there was nothing sinister about the company’s proposal or the request for more information to accompany it.

“There is nothing unusual about addressing public comment, something that we recognise as very important,” he said. “Our existing small business RiverFly 1864 has long term and well-known partnerships with conservation groups.”

The area is a part of the World Heritage Area, however an exemption exists for standing camp accommodation at Halls Island. 

This [development] will have an undeniable impact on the wilderness and especially on wilderness-based recreation.

Wilderness Society spokesman Vica Bayley

A Reserve Activity Assessment written by the Parks and Wildlife Service was required for the application, however the proponent’s assessment written for the referral was omitted from the publicly available documents because it contained commercial-in-confidence materials. 

“We got in touch with the federal department and raised it as an issue and said this is totally unacceptable...the referral relies heavily on a secret document that we can’t see,” Wilderness Society spokesman Vica Bayley said.

“This [development] will have an undeniable impact on the wilderness and especially on wilderness-based recreation.”