The operators of a proposed eco-tourism project in the Walls of Jerusalem National Park have shared the first vision of what their standing camp will look like, along with details of the new public access program for the land it would be located on.
The release comes amid continued criticism from wilderness groups, bushwalkers and fly fishers ahead of a public comment round expected later this month.
Public access to Halls Island and its historic hut will allow 15 visits per year of up to four people, a number well above historic numbers in the visitors journal, according to the owner Daniel Hackett.
Visitors will be required to book visits and overnight stays – subject to approval by the operator – in an effort to “improve environmental outcomes” and avoid multiple groups arriving at once.
IN OTHER NEWS
The camp’s design will cover approximately 65 square metres with a “respectfully minimal” appearance and ability to be fully installed or removed in under one week.
“This is the nature-based tourism model that Tasmanian’s have been working towards for the past decade: small, sensitive and locally-owned, and operating within rural communities that are embracing the visitor economy in the post-forestry era,” Mr Hackett wrote in a statement issued on Thursday.
Todd Henderson, an architect and director at Cumulus Studio who has been heavily involved since the project’s inception said the design was an “interesting challenge”.
“Daniel and Simone’s brief called for a lightweight, fully demountable camp design, while delivering aesthetics that paid homage to the existing, culturally significant Hall’s Hut.”
Speaking to The Examiner, Mr Hackett added the site would also feature a “complete capture” toilet provided by them for the benefit of public guests with “significant annual costs”.
Full details of the public access program have been placed on a website for the proposed venture.
Mr Hackett and his wife Simone took on the lease as part of their proposal through the Tasmanian government’s parks and reserves tourism expression of interest program.
Vica Bayley, campaign manager for the Wilderness Society Tasmania, said it should be the job of the Tasmania Parks and Wildlife Service to manage visitor access to sensitive locations, “not that of a private commercial developer”.
“I think most Tasmanians will deeply confronted and insulted that a private developer will determine who goes to a piece of World Heritage publicly-owned land.”
#releasethelease. If the proponent has "decided to allow the public 15 day trips to Halls Island each year - offering free access...", surely the lease arrangement that gives him the power to privately regulate public access to public land should be released for scrutiny.— Vica Bayley (@VicaBayley) January 9, 2019
On Thursday, Tasmanian Greens leader and parks spokesperson Cassy O’Connor joined calls made by Mr Bayley to make public the lease details and said the ability for a private operator to decide who visited a protected area was “perverse”.
“This place is a public protected area and these leases must be made public,” Ms O’Connor said.
The government confirmed the matters of the lease are commercial in confidence and would not be released.
The Examiner understands the entire island has been included in the lease and licences since their introduction in the 1950s, prior to World Heritage listing and National Parks status.
In his statement, Mr Hackett also referred to the “anticipation” of an upcoming development application to the Central Midlands council and public comment period “planned for late January” as the reason for the release of information this week.
A Federal Court challenge of the proposal was launched by the Wilderness Society in October last year.
While you're with us, you can now sign up to receive breaking news updates and daily headlines direct to your inbox. Sign up here.