Tasmania’s most visited national park is struggling to cope with the influx of visitors, with people being warned of overflowing car parks and delays due to traffic congestion.
Freycinet National Park is a key tourist draw for the state, attracting 272,000 visitors in the last financial year, up from 186,000 in 2011/12.
Parks and Wildlife East Coast parks and reserves manager Donna Stanley said access to the park, particularly Wineglass Bay, has become increasingly congested over the past four years.
December 23 to mid-January and the Easter period are particularly fraught periods, she said.
“This year however, the concentration of visitation has increased through late November and we expect it will not ease until after Easter,” Ms Stanley said.
Ms Stanley said the Parks and Wildlife Service (PWS) will monitor traffic flows this summer to inform how they manage the influx of visitors into the future.
Additionally, “PWS is currently planning a new track between Richardsons Beach and the Wineglass Bay Tracks car park, which will provide alternate options for accessing the start of the Wineglass Bay walking track.”
PWS took to Facebook this week to warn people to expect delays and congestion between 10am and 2pm suggesting people “consider visiting before 9am and after 4pm when the day is cooler”.
It also said roadside parking is limited due to the narrow roads, and “walking to the Wineglass Bay tracks via the road is not recommended”.
Public comments on the Facebook post suggested implementing a shuttle bus service, similar to that which operates at Cradle Mountain where visitors park further away and are shuttled to the main park access.
Ms Stanley said PWS staff are on hand to help maintain traffic flow through the car park during peak times, and suggested visitors plan ahead to help ease congestion.
“Leave towed vehicles such as caravans and boats outside the park – there is no space for these at the car park and limited space at the Visitor Centre overflow car park or Ranger Creek car park (which is generally used by campers),” she said.
“Car pool with friends and family where possible.”
Failing this, she suggests other locations in the park which are easier to access, such as Cape Tourville, Sleepy Bay, Honeymoon Bay, Richardsons Beach and the Friendly Beaches.
Minister for Parks Matthew Groom was asked for comment.
Guide Chris Banks at Burnie’s century-old Wivenhoe Cemetery, where the Ghosts of the North-West tours will kick off on Wednesday. Picture: CHRIS KIDD
FROM the sad tale of a young lad who was killed when he fell from a horse, to the stately funeral procession involving 125 horse-drawn carriages to see off one of Burnie’s first entrepreneurs, a new ghost and grave tour in the North-West promises to bring the stories of its dead back to life.
The Burnie Regional Museum’s Ghosts of the North-West tours start on October 1, and tour five of the region’s oldest cemeteries each Saturday night for five weeks.
The tours will follow the opening of an accompanying exhibition at the Burnie Art Gallery on Tuesday.
The kerosene-lamp-led tours are touted as a bit of fun, but guide and museum volunteer Chris Banks said it would not be a flippant exercise.
“We will bring these stories back to life in a respectful way and we invite those who come along to bring a flower to place on a grave,” Mr Banks said.
The Wivenhoe Cemetery, which opened in 1900, will be the site of the first tour.
Those buried there include Duncan Bridley, who was thrown from a horse at 15, and Captain William Jones, a pioneer sawmiller, hotelier and shipping company owner whose funeral procession in 1907 included 125 horse-drawn carriages, 40 horsemen and the Burnie Federal Band.
The tours will continue on October 8 at Somerset before moving to Wynyard, Ridgley and Penguin.
TOP NOTCH: The Three Capes Track cabins designed by JAWSARCHITECTS have won the top gong at the 2016 Australian Timber Design Awards for walkers’ accommodation on the track . Pictures: JAWSARCHITECTS
SOARING visitor numbers to national parks have sparked calls for increased funding and for more areas to benefit across the state.
Tasmania’s latest eco-tourism venture – the Three Capes Track – has defied all expectations as record park visits drive up tourist numbers to Tasmania to a record 1.18 million from interstate and overseas for the 12 months to March this year.
State Growth Minister Matthew Groom said almost 12,000 people had walked, or were booked to walk, the Three Capes track.
Parks and Wildlife originally hoped to get 6000 walkers in the first year to break even.
More than half of the walkers are from NSW and Victoria, with 20 per cent from Tasmania and nearly 600 international bookings from Austria, Brazil, Indonesia, India, Spain and Sweden.
Mr Groom said the State Government’s plan to make national parks “more accessible and user-friendly to locals and visitors … is paying off”.
Visitors to Freycinet increased 16 per cent to a record 272,000.
Mt Field has experienced a 28 per cent increase to a record 189,000 visitors for the period.
Cradle Mountain, the state’s second-most visited park, attracted 228,000 people, a rise of 15 per cent.
Visitation rose 17 per cent at Hastings Caves and 16 per cent at Tasman Arch and the Overland Track.
Tourism Industry Council Tasmania chief executive Luke Martin said the figures highlighted the “critical importance” of national-park regional destinations.
Mr Martin said visits to popular parks such as Cradle Mountain had doubled in the past 10-15 years, but funding for national parks had not grown at the same rate.
He called for a re-evaluation of investment in national parks because they were “critical economic and cultural assets that underpin our identity and a $2 billion tourism industry”.
“The Three Capes numbers are extraordinary and surpassing the wildest of expectations. [It] shows when we invest in world-class visitor infrastructure in our parks, the market responds,” Mr Martin said.
The good news for Three Capes included Tasmanian firm JAWSARCHITECTS winning the top gong at the 2016 Australian Timber Design Awards for walkers’ accommodation on the track.
Wilderness Society Tasmanian campaign manager Vica Bayley said the figures showed national parks were “icons that attract visitors and distribute benefits across the local community”.
But he said popular parks such as Freycinet and Cradle Mountain were struggling to cope with the boom in visitors, identifying a need for more national parks.
“Minister Groom would be hard pressed to argue against the need for more funding for the Parks and Wildlife Service with figures like these,” Mr Bayley said.
He said the figures reinforced the case for a Tarkine national park in the North-West “to share the visitors and benefits they deliver”.
An artist’s impression of the Krynens’ $5.5 million vision for apple sheds at Franklin. Picture: SUPPLIED
A FORMER Queensland businessman is leading the resurgence of his new home town, Franklin, with plans for a $5.5 million hotel and museum designed by the architects behind Pumphouse Point.
Martin Krynen, 81, has plans for a 22-room hotel, heritage museum, cafe, microbrewery and retail tenancies in refurbished buildings on the historic Franklin Evaporators site.
Mr Krynen has hired Cumulus Studio, the team behind Pumphouse Point and the Cradle Mountain Master Plan, to design the project.
The wooden boat enthusiast and former waste-equipment manufacturer moved from Noosa with wife, Judy, just 18 months ago.
But, already he has bankrolled Franklin’s major drawcard, its Wooden Boat Centre.
His latest idea came in a moment of “youthful exuberance”, Netherlands-born Mr Krynen said.
“We were looking at Franklin and we really like the resurgence.
“We used to drive past the shed every day and we’d say to each other, ‘Somebody should redevelop that.’ It’s right beside the river, it’s in the middle of town.”
The Krynens’ love for the Huon Valley is tied to their love of wooden boats.
Mr Krynen spent five years restoring Huon-pine steamboat the Nancy, regularly travelling south to the Wooden Boat Festival. He has three steamboats he hopes can be part of the new development.
Australia’s oldest rowing boat, the Admiral, could also be displayed in the museum.
“It’s sitting somewhere in an apple shed and they’ve asked for a space to display it,” Mr Krynen said.
“What we really want to do is give people something else to look at in Franklin.
“We’ll just try and improve it and create a few jobs and quietly go on our retired way again.”
Franklin’s riverside charm is being recognised with an influx of artists and the opening of new eateries.
Franklin History Group president Alan Cato said community organisations were supporting the town’s new resident and his proposal. “Franklin badly needs accommodation because it means people would stay longer in the valley,” Mr Cato said.
“It’s all very positive.”
Franklin Evaporators began operating in 1898 and was run by the same family until the early 2000s.
Its sheds were used to dry apples and plums and make juice sold to Cascade.
Architect Peter Walker said Mr Krynen had been inspired by Willie Smith’s Apple Shed, another of the firm’s projects.
“We like the idea of using the existing shed buildings in a way that reveals the history and stories of the site to visitors while new uses, such as the cafe, microbrewery and hotel, are clearly contemporary insertions,” he said.
HEAVY rain may lead to flash flooding near Swansea on the state’s East Coast and other inland areas this morning, the Bureau of Meteorology has warned.
A severe weather warning has been issued for the Midlands and parts of the Upper Derwent Valley, South-East, East Coast and Central Plateau today.
A rain band moved over the North-East last night and will bring heavy rain to parts of eastern Tasmania this morning, before the low moves further east this afternoon.
Rainfall totals of 20mm to 40mm are expected between Swansea and Bruny Island, with higher totals of 60mm to 80mm possible about elevated areas. Oatlands, Orford, New Norfolk, Bothwell and Hobart will also be affected.
Current totals around the state since 9am yesterday include 55mm at Gray, 48mm at Mt Victoria, 44mm at Mt Wellington, 42mm at Wynyard, 39mm at Cressy, 38mm at Friendly Beaches and 37mm at St Helens.
BOLD PLAN: Tasmanian Walking Company is looking to build an eco-tourism lodge at Lake Rodway, under the foothills of Mt Emmett in the Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park.
JENNIFER CRAWLEY, Mercury
September 12, 2016 11:00am
TASMANIA’S best known eco-tourism group is one step closer to building a remote lodge in the Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park.
Tasmanian Walking Company’s Cradle Base Camp lodge at Lake Rodway, under the foothills of Mt Emmett, will house up to 24 guests and employ three permanent and 34 casual staff.
A project manager and planning team have signed on for the ambitious project, which is the closest to fruition of the four TWC projects in the State Government’s expression of interest process for tourism in national parks.
The project has advanced to the lease and licence stage.
“We think that they are all good ideas but if we put all those products on the market at the same time it’s unsustainable,” TWC general manager Heath Garratt said.
The site is only accessible by foot and the lodge will be built with prefabricated materials to minimise site disturbance. All materials will be flown into the area by helicopter.
“The aim is to be able to potentially remove every building material from site and remediate the area,” he said.
The Greens oppose the TWC proposal because it is “smack in the middle of a national park”.
“This is a lodge, not low-impact tourism,” Greens leader Cassy O’Connor said.
The lodge at Lake Rodway is within the recreation zone of the World Heritage Area Management Plan but is outside the existing day walk and Overland Track areas.
TWC has yet to submit a development application with the local council or a reserve activity assessment with Parks and Wildlife because they are still working with Parks to determine the most suitable site, Mr Garratt said.
“There are significant checks and balances in place given we are looking at a World Heritage Area, national park and an incredibly special area,” Mr Garratt said.
“This has caused – and will continue to cause – delays but we welcome them.”
Mr Garratt said the TWC vision was to transport guests who were keen to immerse themselves in a wilderness experience but who were not happy to “tent it”.
“That’s why we are keen to have commercial infrastructure in national parks. We want to take the client into national parks who wouldn’t otherwise go. They can have a hot shower, a glass of wine and a three course meal – they are guided safely.”
D’Wayne Quin poses at his recently sold Kingston home, which attracted multiple offers.
Pictures: MATHEW FARRELL
A SEVERE lack of houses for sale in Greater Hobart is having dramatic effects on the property industry and turning pockets of the market red hot.
Often houses are being sold before they even hit the market – some in mere days – and others for tens of thousands of dollars above expectations.
Agents working in the top, middle and lower ends of the sector have seen houses sell within days or hours of being listed.
There have been reports of agents taking multiple offers at a property’s first open home, which can leave out in the cold those looking to upgrade subject to selling their present home.
While agents have offered theories on what has caused the shortage, there is no simple explanation.
It has led many property agents to think outside the box.
Some are extending their traditional marketing techniques to include social media to help drum up listings and make sales.
Others are taking advantage of a seller-friendly market to create a database of clients who are house hunting in specific areas – and these buyers are ready to pounce immediately.
Nest Property auctioneer Paul Farrelly cancelled plans for an auction when his Blackmans Bay vendor received an offer that was too good to refuse. He said they had more than 40 inspections and sold the home after just four days on the market.
Raine & Horne Eastern Shore consultant Karen Young had similar success in Sandford with a home that was put on the market and then taken straight back off.
Happy with fast sale, top price
D’Wayne and Melissa Quin were confident that their Kingston home would sell quickly but they were blown away when it took just a handful of days.
The sale was launched on a Monday, 25 groups came through the open home, six came back for a second look and four would have bought it.
Each bidder came in with offers above what the Quins were hoping to achieve.
Mr Quin is still happily buzzing about their one-week sale.
He said selling in winter and without many other houses to compete against “worked perfectly for us”.
Elders Kingborough sales consultant Mark Riley said the combination of low stock and the right sale strategy lead to this excellent result for his vendor.
“At the open home some people were wondering out loud why there were so many potential buyers out house hunting in winter,” he said.
“With stocks so low, there is an opportunity for sellers to secure a sensational result like this one.”
“It sold on the same day that it was listed,” she said.
Petrusma Property director Jake Towns said in the past quarter the average number of days on the market for properties he sold had been just six.
He said it could easily have been less than that but he “holds them off” for a week to ensure properties are marketed correctly.
“Greater Hobart as a whole is stable and healthy across the board but prices have not increased much,” he said.
“However, there are umpteen examples of homes having over 100 people through an open home and then selling well above the asking price.
“Recently we sold one in Bellerive for $150,000 more than what we were looking for.”
Knight Frank senior sales consultant Rorie Auld said with strong prices and properties selling extremely quickly Tasmania’s “severe lack of stock” was frustrating buyers and sellers.
He said there were now sellers who had become unwilling to go to market because they feared being left homeless if they sold but could not secure a new house to buy.
“If you are a coy in this market, you will certainly miss out,” he said.
First National Elite Bellerive consultant Colin Miller has had success this year selling directly to a database of clients.
He recently sold a house in Bridgewater within 24 hours directly to a waiting investor database and it was a cash offer above the asking price.
In areas such as the inner city, the Eastern Shore and Kingborough, agents had been securing some skyrocketing prices for their vendors.
When Ray White Southern Tasmania director Ant Manton listed a stunning Sandy Bay home last month it stayed on the market for only one day and it fetched $3.85 million.
“That’s the highest figure for a residential property since 2011,” he said.
Real Estate Institute of Tasmania president Tony Collidge said figures showed there had been a drop in the number of listings in Hobart and surrounding municipalities of between 20 and 40 per cent compared to the number of homes for sale three years ago.
He said some areas were down by about half.
“While demand is strong it’s not over the top,” he said.
“We haven’t seen significant price increases anywhere except the inner city suburbs.”
‘If you are a coy in this market, you will certainly miss out’ – Knight Frank senior sales consultant Rorie Auld
Mr Collidge said traditionally spring was busy for the property market and it would not be a shock if things picked up by 20 per cent in October and November.
For now, the stock shortage remains a uniquely Tasmanian issue.
CoreLogic RP Data’s monthly capital city listings figures show Hobart has had the biggest decline in listings over the past year.
Hobart is about 30 per cent down over the period while Canberra has about 6 per cent fewer listings and Melbourne has had only a 2 per cent decrease.
All of the other capitals have had listings growth.
Strike fast or lose the chance
SARAH Finearty and Sam Polanowski bought their new home at lightning speed – just one hour and it was a done deal.
The couple had been going to every open home in Howrah but missed out over and over again.
Ms Finearty said agents were even taking offers on the spot at open homes, an example of the fierce level of competition in the marketplace.
“There aren’t a lot of properties around, everything is moving quickly and demand is high,” she said.
The pair recently settled on a perfect place for them, just a two-minute walk from the house they were renting.
When Ms Finearty saw it was coming on the market, she rang the agent directly, organised an inspection, and then bought the house that evening.
“Every open home we went to, we saw the same people who were at the previous one,” she said.
“My team leader was at one and she tried to tell me it was haunted so we wouldn’t buy it.”
Tourism operators worry that the tax changes will deter backpackers.
MORE than eight in 10 Tasmanian tourism operators believe a backpacker tax will reduce visitor numbers to their regions, new figures show.
A survey, conducted last week by the Tourism Industry Council Tasmania, has found that 83 per cent of operators expect the backpacker tax to negatively effect the number of tourists to their region and more than 60 per cent expect the tax to have a negative affect on their own business.
The findings from a survey of 10 per cent of the state’s tourism operators, comes as representatives from the Commonwealth Department of Agriculture and Water Resources arrive in Hobart today for face-to-face consultations with representatives from the horticulture, tourism and agricultural sector.
Under proposed Federal Government rules, foreigners on working holidays will no longer have access to a tax-free threshold of almost $20,000 and will be forced to pay at least 32.5 per cent tax on income from the first dollar earned.
TICT chief executive Luke Martin told the Mercury that backpackers contributed to Tasmania’s visitor economy “not only as customers but as employees”.
“Regional areas of Tasmania including the West and East Coasts are particularly dependent on the short-term labour provided by working holiday visa holders,” he said.
His sentiments were echoed by Primary Industries Minster Jeremy Rockliff, who said the horticulture and agriculture sectors could also be affected.
“Tasmanian perennial horticultural enterprises such as cherries and berry fruits are in an expansion phase,” Mr Rockliff said.
“As an example, one industry grower alone exports to 20 countries and employs a permanent workforce of 20 staff.
“This workforce swells to 600 from December to February during the peak harvest time for cherries. That’s why we have expressed our concerns to the Federal Government not to risk the competit-iveness of Tasmania’s vital horticulture, agriculture and tourism sectors.”
Huon Valley apple and pear grower Mark Duggan said backpackers were “vital” for producers and for the state’s tourism sector.
“From hostels through to caravan parks and just in general … the money value that they bring to the Huon Valley is just incredible,” he said.
Mr Duggan said he was “very, very concerned” about the impact a backpacker tax would have.
“At this stage there are a lot of farmers not sure whether to put a crop in the ground or not because they might not get the backpackers to harvest the crop,” he said.
Mr Martin said negative publicity about the backpacker tax had already had an impact on visitor numbers.
“The latest International Visitor Survey released this week revealed backpacker arrivals in Australia fell by 7 per cent in the past 12 months, in striking contrast to overall visitor arrivals to Australia increasing by more than 10 per cent,” Mr Martin said.