The Lower Gordon River Recreation Zone extends over 40 km from the river’s Macquarie Harbour mouth upstream to its confluence with the Franklin River. Cruise boat operations on the Gordon River have been regulated for almost 30 years, since their use seriously damaged the river’s banks, but private boat use is apparently increasing, and there is a proposal for what would effectively be a floating hotel being assessed by the government’s secretive and much-criticised EoI process.

PWS prepared a Background Report on the Lower Gordon River in May 2020, a precursor to revising the 1998 Lower Gordon River Recreation Zone plan. The report was prepared “to provide a foundation of information” to inform stakeholders’ input to the “action focused ” Recreation Zone Plan but its content is somewhat deficient or selective regarding a number of issues.

The Recreation Zone Plan is a non-statutory subsidiary plan to the 2016 TWWHA Management Plan (i.e. a policy document that is not legally binding). Its drafting was apparently linked to the development of the Tourism Master Plan for the TWWHA to ensure the two plans are aligned. The Draft Recreation Zone Plan was released in February 2022. It is disappointing that “the scope of the Plan is limited to the management of recreation, including tourism activities and associated development, and its impacts within the plan area.” Limiting the scope of the Plan in this manner ignores other management issues, such as the Middle Gordon Power Scheme, that have had, and continue to have, a significant impact on the values of the Lower Gordon River. It is also disappointing the Draft Plan does not rule out any further commercial use of the river given scientific monitoring has indicated the erosion-damaged banks are at or very near their carrying capacity.

Lower Gordon River, Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area. Photo: Grant Dixon

The Tasmanian National Parks Association offers an independent voice for Tasmania’s national parks and reserves, to ensure they are managed for the conservation of the values for which they were proclaimed.