The Cradle Mountain Visitor Experience Master Plan was released in March 2016 but it is still driving development at Cradle despite some glaring inadequacies.
This document does not deserve to be called a plan – it’s better described as an ambit claim from the tourism industry written on the premise that Cradle Mountain needs the gimmick of a cable car to attract even more visitors.
A credible Master Plan would have started with consideration of the number of visitors that Cradle Valley can sustain while still providing a worthwhile experience of visiting a wild natural area (possibly fewer than now visit at peak times).
It could also have explored the proposition that the Dove Lake car park has outlived its usefulness – what is the best future use? It would have canvassed a range of options and subjected these to feedback from the wider community including those who know and love the Cradle area.
Specifically, it could have included the option of closing and largely rehabilitating the car park and moving the shuttle bus turning circle back 200 metres or so, out of sight of Dove Lake, with toilets and a modest shelter discretely located. Visitors could have walked along the former road and current walking tracks (wheelchair accessible) to the shore of Dove Lake. Surely this would have been a far more appropriate introduction to one of the world’s great national parks than emerging from a shuttle bus or cable car to get your first sight of Cradle and Dove Lake through the window of a grandiose viewing shelter located on the former car park?
Instead of alternatives we were presented with the fait accompli of the Master Plan. The only ‘consultation’ was an online survey, mainly of interstate residents who were considering visiting Tasmania for a holiday in the next 2 years. i.e. a survey of people with little or no actual experience of Cradle Mountain or the options for access to Dove Lake (see Master Plan pages 31-35).
Despite these obvious shortcomings, the Master Plan has been uncritically endorsed by both major political parties and the Parks & Wildlife Service. In addition to the Dove Lake viewing shelter and cable car, it included the uncontroversial and long overdue proposal for a new visitor centre which opened in early 2020.
It’s time to reconsider all recommendations of the Master Plan before we are locked into the construction of any more unnecessary and unjustified intrusions into the naturalness of Cradle Valley!
The Cradle Mountain Visitor Experience Master Plan can be downloaded here