The Dial Range is located to the south of Penguin township on the central northwest coast of Tasmania.
The Range extends some 14 kms south to the Leven River at Gunns Plains and is about 4-5 kms wide between the hillfaces of Pine Road on the west through to the Leven River forming it's eastern boundary. In total the Dial Range covers about 5200 hectares of State owned land of which:
- 4354 ha are State Forest and Forest Reserve managed by Forestry Tasmania;
- 300 ha are within the Mount Montgomery State Reserve managed by the Parks and Wildlife Service;
- 35 ha are within the Ferndene State Reserve managed by the Parks and Wildlife Service; and
- 507 ha of land that has been recommended as a Nature Recreation Area under the Inquiry into areas to be reserved under the Tasmania-Commonwealth Regional Forests Agreement 1.
Map 1.1 shows the current land tenure arrangement for the Dial Range.
The Dial Range is a prominent landscape feature and is widely recognised as being a multiple use asset providing for wood production, recreation, water catchment, tourism, flora and fauna conservation, habitat conservation and landscape values for the community.
There are a diversity of recreational users that enjoy the Dial Range. The principal recreational activities make use of the walking tracks and trails found within the Study Area and include bushwalking, trail bike riding, horseriding, nature studies, running, mountain bike riding and exercising dogs. Fishing, canoeing and other water based activities occur along the Leven River. Designated areas have been set aside for clubs involved with motocross riding and field and game shooting. Sightseeing, picnicking and other recreational activities also occur within the Dial Range.
During the 1970's, the Penguin Council and North West Walking Club initiated the development of a network of extensive walking trails through the Range, with the assistance of funds from a Commonwealth's regional employment scheme. These tracks have generally been maintained by the Walking Club and now form part of the Penguin - Cradle Trail, a 6-7 day walking trail from the coast through to Cradle Mountain National Park.
Both users and managers of the Dial Range recognise that there are a number of fundamental issues which need to be addressed in the future planning, development and management of recreational activities. These issues include the need for an effective management structure for recreation management of the Dial Range, resolution of conflicts between different uses of the Study Area, improved access arrangements and the upgrading and maintenance of the existing tracks and trails.
A multiple -use management plan was prepared for the Dial Range in 1975 and provided some broad direction to guide management decisions. Some 15 years later, a draft 1990 Dial Range Management Plan was prepared by Forestry Tasmania as an interim document. The Plan provided a basic inventory of resources and set out management prescriptions for wood production, landscape management, wildlife corridors and recreational uses.
Since the interim plan was prepared, there have been a number of developments with implications for the recreation management of the Dial Range. These include:
- the Regional Forest Agreement which led to commitments to conserve a comprehensive and representative system of conservation values within the State;
- changes to Forestry Tasmania's wood production and management priorities for the region and specifically for the Dial Range;
- increased recreational use and pressures within the Dial Range, including the emergence of some conflicts between different users and some degradation of the recreational resource;
- the limited resources available to arrest the decline in the condition of many tracks and trails within the Dial Range; and
- the limited capacity of the existing management arrangements to achieve effective management outcomes for recreation in the whole of the Dial Range.
The need to prepare a Recreation Management Plan for the Dial Range was identified by the responsible management agencies, the Central Coast Council and user groups. A Steering Committee with representatives from the Central Coast Council, Forestry Tasmania, Parks and Wildlife Service, the Office of Sport and Recreation and user groups was established to assist with the preparation of this study. Consultants, Inspiring Place Pty Ltd, were commissioned to prepare the Dial Range Recreation Management Plan.