Aerial firefighting fleet bolstered

Minister for Police, Fire and Emergency Management

Aerial firefighting fleet bolstered

6 January 2022

Tasmania’s firefighting capacity has been bolstered with the launch of the summer aviation fleet to help keep Tasmanians safe from the threat of bushfires.

Tasmania now has 12 specialised aircraft on hand to help fight fires from above, including a mix of firebombing, air supervision and aerial intelligence gathering aircraft. Eight are helicopters and four are fixed wing planes.  These aircraft are made possible through the collaboration of the Tasmanian and Australian Governments who jointly fund the aircraft through the National Aerial Firefighting Centre.

The fleet are all strategically positioned so that they can be moved quickly around the State to respond to fires.

In addition, 20 local aircraft are available to call on to assist when required, taking the total firefighting aircraft available in Tasmania to 32.  This will ensure a rapid response to bushfires when they start, keeping fires small until ground crews arrive.

Tasmania is well prepared for the bushfire season, and we recognise the importance of having access to a sophisticated, flexible, aerial firefighting capability to respond to bushfires, protect our communities and to support firefighters on the ground.

The Tasmania Fire Service, Parks and Wildlife Service and Sustainable Timbers Tasmania have been busy preparing for, and responding to bushfires over the last month.

We know that investing in the aerial firefighting fleet is a critical part of keeping Tasmanians safe during bushfire season.

The Tasmanian Liberal Government is committed to keeping Tasmanians safe from the threat of bushfires, which is why we are investing $111.5 million over the forward estimates for bushfire prevention and safety measures.

Discovery and Wilderness Rangers ready for the summer season

Minister for Parks

Discovery and Wilderness Rangers ready for the summer season

24 December 2021

The Tasmania Parks and Wildlife Service’s Discovery and Wilderness Rangers are ready to welcome both locals and visitors to Tasmania, enhancing the visitor experience within our national parks and reserves.

10 Discovery Rangers, and 12 Wilderness Rangers recently completed four days of training ahead of their deployment across Tasmania to support existing Parks field staff and volunteers right throughout the peak summer season.

The aim of our Discovery and Wilderness Rangers is to provide an enhanced visitor experience by supporting walker safety and knowledge through the delivery of information and activities, as a way of providing interpretation of an area’s natural and cultural heritage.

Importantly, they also provide education on how to experience all that Tasmania has to offer in an environmentally responsible way, through the delivery of key messaging including ‘Leave no Trace’ principles.

This ensures visitors to our beautiful State enjoy our national parks and reserves, but importantly, leave the environment just as they found it.

Discovery Rangers have been delivering services in Tasmania’s national parks for more than 40 years.

This Summer they will be stationed at eight popular locations including Maria Island National Park, Cradle Mountain National Park, Mt Field National Park, Freycinet National Park, Narawntapu National Park, Stanley, Strahan and the West Coast.

The Discovery Rangers will also run a range of free activities including guided walks, evening talks, games and activities to suit all ages.

Wilderness Rangers provide support to walkers in Tasmania’s remote track locations including at Mt Anne and Walls of Jerusalem, to ensure walkers are well prepared and educated on safety requirements for some of Tasmania’s more challenging tracks.

For more information, visit the PWS website: Education programs | Parks & Wildlife Service Tasmania

Mount Anne Circuit and Lake Judd Track to reopen 13 December

Minister for Parks

Mount Anne Circuit and Lake Judd Track to reopen 13 December

6 December 2021

The multi-day Mount Anne Circuit and the day walks to Lake Judd, Mount Eliza and Mount Anne will all reopen on 13 December following works to repair extensive damage from the 2018-19 bushfires.

Contractors and Parks and Wildlife Staff have been working hard to rebuild more than 11km of hardened track, 4000 steps, 20 bridges and a toilet block on the challenging 34 km Mount Anne Circuit since early 2020.

This $3.5 million project was funded through the Community Recovery Fund and importantly was completed utilising Tasmanian contractors and locally-sourced materials.

I would like to thank all those who have worked so hard to reopen this stunning wilderness track in time for the upcoming holiday season, including PWS staff, contractors and specialists.

I’d also like to acknowledge Hobart’s Hilary Wallace and her late husband Allan whose support through Wildcare’s Wild Bushwalking Tracks fund has added more than a kilometre of timber-planking, tent platforms and a new toilet at Lonely Tarns, as well as a new toilet at Shelf Camp.

Anyone planning to undertake the multi-day walk of the Mount Anne Circuit, staying at Shelf Camp and Lonely Tarns, is asked to register their walk via the free online registration system.

The walker registration system was introduced by PWS to manage daily departures and to reduce the potential for long-term damage to remote bushwalking environments.

The daily departure cap for those wanting to camp at Shelf Camp and Lonely Tarns is 12, with toilets now provided at both locations as well as tent platforms at Lonely Tarns.

Overnight walker registration for camping at Shelf Camp and Lonely Tarns opened today.

The Mount Anne Circuit is an alpine walk suited to experienced walkers who are prepared for the ever-changing conditions.

Walkers are encouraged to read the Safe Walking Guidelines, the Walk Safely video, the Hypothermia Safety video and use the Walker Pack checklist, available at: https://parks.tas.gov.au/explore-our-parks/know-before-you-go/safety-in-parks

To register your walk, please visit the EventBrite website: https://www.eventbrite.com.au/e/mt-anne-shelf-camp-lonely-tarns-circuit-walker-registration-tickets-189386097917

Building starts on the all-weather shelter at Ben Lomond National Park

Minister for Parks

Building starts on the all-weather shelter at Ben Lomond National Park

1 December 2021

The visitor experience at the Ben Lomond National Park will soon be enhanced with construction starting on a new $2.1 million public shelter to provide a state-of-the-art entry point into the village.

The Tasmania Parks and Wildlife Service (PWS) has engaged Tasmanian business Anstie Constructions Pty Ltd to build the new shelter which will feature a heated internal area along with amenities and public toilets.

Importantly, the shelter has been designed to sensitively blend into the landscape and will replace the previous shelter that was unfortunately destroyed by fire during 2018.

Once complete, this new shelter will be an important recreational asset in northern Tasmania all year-round.

The Ben Lomond National Park snowfield activities provide economic benefits for the retail, recreation and tourism sectors both on and off the mountain.

In recent years there has also been a noticeable increase in summer visitation with visitors enjoying short walks, stunning wildflowers and a rich variety of bird life.

The Tasmanian Liberal Government is proud to be working with the community to provide the best outcome for stakeholders and visitors to this iconic destination. 

PWS celebrates 50 years

Minister for Parks

PWS celebrates 50 years

19 November 2021

It was my absolute pleasure today to attend the Statewide celebrations to mark the 50th Anniversary of the Tasmania Parks and Wildlife Service (PWS).

From humble beginnings in November 1971, the Service has now grown from 59 employees to over 450 employees who are dedicated and committed to delivering a world-class parks service, while preserving and protecting our world-renowned reserve system and our beautiful and glorious natural and cultural values.

50 years on, our dedicated staff and volunteers care for more than 51 per cent of our beautiful island state, including National parks, reserves, marine seascapes, Crown lands and three World Heritage Areas.

The 50th celebrations today were a fantastic occasion for past and present staff and volunteers to get together and celebrate and reflect on the achievements of the Service since these humble beginnings, and to share their thoughts and insights for the next 50 years of the PWS.

It was also an important opportunity to acknowledge and recognise the traditional and original owners and continuing custodians of this land, including reflecting on the return of Aboriginal cultural burning practices in Tasmania’s Parks and reserves, delivered importantly by Tasmanian Aboriginal people.

The achievements of the Service over the last 50 years are a true reflection of the continuing camaraderie and outstanding teamwork of our staff and volunteers.

I’m incredibly proud of what the Service has achieved over the last 50 years, and on behalf of the Tasmanian Government, I thank and congratulate our Parks staff and volunteers who play a vital role each and every day in helping visitors to our Parks recognise, value and enjoy our natural and cultural heritage.

Montezuma Falls Bridge reopens

Minister for Parks

Montezuma Falls Bridge reopens

16 November 2021

The iconic Montezuma Falls Walking Track Suspension Bridge on the West Coast has reopened to the public and is once again, providing a spectacular view of one of the highest waterfalls in Tasmania.

As the suspension bridge crosses just below the falls, it offers a unique perspective of the falls, and was closed to allow for engineering works last year.

The walk to Montezuma Falls is one of Tasmania’s 60 Great Short Walks and is one of the most popular tracks on the West Coast attracting over 20,000 walkers each year.

The toilet amenities at the start of the Montezuma Falls walking track remain closed following recent damage to the facilities, with the Parks and Wildlife Services working to re-open them as soon as possible.

In the interim, there are public toilet facilities available at nearby Rosebery.

For more information about Montezuma Falls please visit the Parks and Wildlife Service website: https://parks.tas.gov.au/things-to-do/60-great-short-walks/montezuma-falls

Tasmania prepared for upcoming bushfire season

Minister for Police, Fire and Emergency Management

Tasmania prepared for upcoming bushfire season

9 November 2021

This Tasmanian Liberal Government understands the importance of keeping our communities safe from the threat of bushfires, which is why we are investing $111.5 million in bushfire prevention over the Budget and forward estimates.

While the current overall assessment for the 21/22 Bushfire Season is for a normal fire potential, we know we cannot be complacent about the dangers of bushfire.

I’m pleased to advise that preparations for the upcoming bushfire season are well advanced, with more than 150 people taking part in a multi-agency pre-season briefing in Launceston today.

A total of 139 community bushfire protection plans and response plans have been developed, and 18 mitigation plans for at-risk communities and specific assets have also been prepared.

This year, a total of 217 fuel reduction burns treating over 32,000 hectares have to date been completed, and our successful “Red Hot Tips” Program has also supported farmers and large landholders to conduct 229 burns covering over 5,300 hectares.

The Tasmania Fire Service now has a total remote area capability of 144 career and volunteer firefighters, who undertook further training in September and October.

There are also 155 Parks and Wildlife firefighting personnel, with the Service also receiving $2.1 million to implement remote area firefighting helicopter winch capability, enabling the deployment of specialist firefighters quickly.

The Tasmania Fire Service has a Lightning Strike Strategy in place, and works closely with Parks and Wildlife Services and Sustainable Timber Tasmania, to detect and respond to fires caused by lightning strikes with the assistance of spotter flights and pre-positioned aircraft.

I am also pleased to advise that the Tasmania Fire Service has secured exclusive access to 11 aircraft for this Bushfire Season, including 7 helicopters and 4 fixed wing bombers prepositioned strategically throughout the state.

In addition to this, we also have access to 5 local helicopter providers, as well as Large Area Tankers if required.

The Tasmanian Liberal Government is taking action to keep Tasmanians safe, and we will continue to invest to ensure bushfire safety and prevention.

I would like to thank all of our hardworking firefighters and volunteers who have been working tirelessly to ensure the safety of Tasmanians and to ensure we are well equipped to respond to situations that may arise this upcoming bushfire season. 

Bushfire recovery supporting local jobs

Minister for Parks

Bushfire recovery supporting local jobs

28 October 2021

Following the devastating 2018-19 summer bushfires, infrastructure recovery works undertaken by the Tasmanian Parks and Wildlife Service funded by the Tasmanian and Australian Governments have been a key economic driver across a range of sectors in regional and remote areas including construction, transport, retail and have supported an estimated 39 full-time jobs.

The Tasmania Parks and Wildlife Service identified the need to rebuild and repair over 117 kilometres of walking tracks, 119 kilometres of roads, many bridges and other assets which had been damaged or destroyed during the bushfires.

Jointly funded by the Tasmanian and the Federal Government’s Community Recovery Fund, this $8.3 million reconstruction program has worked with 24 Tasmanian businesses who supplied materials including treated timber, metal plates, chicken wire, bugle screws, gravel, fibre-reinforced polymer sheeting and tent platforms.

I’d also like to acknowledge the PWS employees and transport operators who have been a critical link in our supply chain, ensuring the delivery of these materials to the remote track work teams in the TWWHA in Tassie’s infamous “four seasons in one day” weather.

This includes delivering over 5000 metres of timber planking, 20 bridges, and approximately 4000 steps and 400 water bars to the three teams completing the rebuild of the Lake Judd and Mt Anne tracks.

In the two years since the bushfires, a number of iconic tracks in the fire affected areas have already reopened including Lake Rhona and Farmhouse Creek, with the much anticipated Mt Anne Circuit due to reopen soon.

The Eastern Arthur Range Traverse – between Hanging Lake and Cracroft Plains – and the Western Arthur Range Traverse north/east of West Portal are undergoing critical works, and are expected to reopen in autumn next year.

The Tasmanian Liberal Government’s investment in restoring the infrastructure of some of our most iconic remote area bushwalks following these devastating bushfires is a clear demonstration of our support for our regional communities, local businesses and local jobs.

Search is on for new Tasmanian Wilderness Rangers

Minister for Parks

Search is on for new Tasmanian Wilderness Rangers

16 October 2021

The Tasmanian Government is looking for new Wilderness Rangers to help protect our National Parks and improve the visitor experience for walkers.

A recruitment campaign is underway by the Tasmania Parks and Wildlife Service to employ rangers who will provide education and advice to walkers on some of our State’s most remote multi-day walks within the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area this summer.

The Wilderness Rangers, previously known as Track Rangers, will play an important role in keeping the walking community safe as well as enriching the overall visitor experience.

The rangers will be based in remote locations throughout the TWWHA, including Lake Rhona and the Walls of Jerusalem, along with soon-to-be-reopened overnight walking tracks at Mt Anne Circuit, Eastern Arthurs, and Western Arthurs.

The Wilderness Ranger program has been expanded this year to enhance walker safety and knowledge, particularly around Leave No Trace principles.

Additionally, the rangers will share the natural and cultural heritage values of these irreplaceable wilderness areas with walkers.

They will also help visitors understand why a voluntary overnight walker registration system is now in place to protect these fragile remote bushwalking environments.

The rangers will be deployed on more walks and for longer during the peak walking season to ensure full coverage on these remote walks.

In recent years, rangers have identified that some walkers are unaware of Leave No Trace principles, which can lead to impacts on vegetation, new campsites being formed, trail braiding (which creates a path next to a designated trail due to people walking off track) and inappropriate toileting.

With unprecedented demand for Tasmania’s National Parks and Reserves, even during COVID-19, the team of Wilderness Rangers will be out in the field and ready to greet and assist walkers during the peak walking season from December 2021 to April 2022.

More information about the Wilderness Ranger program can be found online at: www.jobs.tas.gov.au

Volunteers help preserve Maria Island convict buildings

Minister for Parks

Volunteers help preserve Maria Island convict buildings

12 October 2021

The Tasmanian Government highly values our built heritage and appreciates the hard work of volunteers and Tasmanian Parks and Wildlife staff in maintaining these buildings.

In a joint effort, volunteers worked alongside PWS staff within the Darlington precinct on Maria Island National Park to limewash the 1825-1850s buildings as part of ongoing maintenance work.

Limewash is often used as a decorative finish and is the basis of mortars, plasters and renders for older buildings in Tasmania. Specific directions on limewash and lime slaking were followed by the group.

Maria Island National Park is a special place for Tasmanians and visitors alike, with the location having the unique combination of nature and history.

The contributions from PWS volunteers at Maria Island National Park and across our parks and reserves in Tasmania provides assistance in the protection and conservation of our National Parks.

Thank you to all of the volunteers and staff who were involved in this five-day effort to ensure these beautiful historic buildings are maintained for visitors to explore.

I encourage visitors and Tasmanians to visit Maria Island National Park and be sure to visit the newly transformed convict buildings while you are there.

For more information about Maria Island National Park visit the PWS website:  https://parks.tas.gov.au/explore-our-parks/maria-island-national-park