The proposal for a commercial hut (lodge) at Lake Rodway, below Cradle Mountain, then called the Cradle Base Camp Experience, was amongst the first submitted to the state government’s Expressions of Interest process in 2015. The proponent is the Tasmanian Walking Company (TWC), which currently operates the Cradle Huts, Bay of Fires and Three Capes (private huts) walks.
The proposal has now reached the detailed planning stage with a Parks and Wildlife Service Reserve Activity Assessment (RAA) expected in the next few months. The TWC stated that this would be a Level 4 RAA (the highest level of scrutiny which includes public comment).
The TNPA recently participated in ‘consultation’ conducted by a consultant on behalf of the TWC. Its main purpose was to provide feedback to the TWC on the detail of the proposal but it was the first time that the TNPA was shown plans beyond the very basic information contained in the original Expression of Interest.
The proposal is for a three day – two night walk starting and finishing from Dove Lake carpark, with two nights spent in the proposed hut at Lake Rodway which would have a single staff member (additional to the guides) resident throughout the operating season. The group comprising 12 clients and 2 guides would approach via the eastern side of Dove Lake (probably using the Lake Hanson – Twisted Lakes track) on day 1, climb Cradle (weather permitting) on day 2, and leave via Cradle Cirque and Marions Lookout on day 3. This raises a few questions about how the clients are occupied on day 2 if they don’t want to climb Cradle Mountain, or cannot because of the weather. The usual PWS requirement is for two guides to be with clients at all times, and this would certainly be desirable on the ascent to Cradle summit, so splitting the group would be problematic.
The proposed hut location is at the south east corner of Lake Rodway – see map above. It would be accessed by 900 metres of walking track along the crest of the ridge south of the lake. According to the TWC, the location has been selected because it is not visible from any location on established walking tracks, only from a short distance off-track on the eastern side of the Cradle Mountain summit.
The proposal is actually for a combined hut and standing camp. It needs to accommodate two groups (24 clients) simultaneously but the hut only contains 10, two-guest bedrooms with four tent platforms for the remainder. The tent platforms, with a separate toilet, plus a services building, water tanks and boatshed(!) contribute to a footprint far larger than the hut itself.
The TNPA’s feedback to TWC was that it is opposed to this proposal on the grounds of impacts on the natural environment and the experience of other users of the area, and that, in the event that the proposal proceeds, the hut and the proliferation of other facilities should be redesigned to minimise its footprint.