Our Latest News

Visitor safety under the spotlight in new walker safety video

16/04/2018

Visitor safety in Tasmania's national parks and reserves has received a major investment with a suite of projects, including a new feature video on bushwalking preparation and safety.More

Draft Frenchmans Cap Recreation Zone Plan 2018

12/04/2018

The Parks and Wildlife Service has released the Draft Recreation Zone Plan 2018 for the Frenchmans Cap area.More

Redeveloped Lake Tahune Hut now open

12/04/2018

A locally designed and built, energy-efficient and sustainable hut is now welcoming bushwalkers at Lake Tahune on the Frenchmans Cap Track in the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area.More

Draft Frenchmans Cap Recreation Zone Plan 2018*

The full version of the Draft Frenchmans Cap Recreation Zone Plan 2018 can be downloaded as a PDF File (6.6 Mb).

Schedule of Public Representations and Responses

Public comment is invited on the Draft Frenchmans Cap Recreation Zone Plan 2018. The draft plan has been prepared to improve management of the recreational, natural and cultural values of this area. 

Your input is welcome and may be provided in writing, addressed to: 

Director of National Parks and Wildlife
GPO Box 1751
Hobart TAS 7001

or 

by email to representations@parks.tas.gov.au 

The consultation period closes on Saturday 26 May 2018.

Summary

IMPORTANT error correction 12 April 2018 
A mapping error was identified in the Draft Frenchmans Cap Recreation Zone Plan 2018 version posted on this website on 11 April 2018. The error pertained to Map 1 (page 8) with an inconsistency between the management zoning applied to Map 1 and the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area Management Plan 2016 Map 5 TWWHA management zones and overlays – north. The Irenabyss Track, from North Col to the Franklin River, is zoned self-reliant recreation. Map 1 of the Draft Frenchmans Cap Recreation Zone Plan 2018 and a text reference on page 24 have been adjusted to reflect the correct management zone. The corrected version of the plan is available using the above link.

Frenchmans Cap (1,443m) constitutes perhaps the most dramatic landform in western Tasmania. Its prominent and distinctive shape made it a landmark from the earliest days of European settlement. The area has a long history of both recreational use and reservation, with a national park in the area first proclaimed more than 70 years ago.

The 45-kilometre return walk to the Cap is a challenging experience but is, nevertheless, the fourth-most popular backcountry-walking destination in Tasmania with 1,832 people visiting in 2016-17. Walkers typically undertake the return trek over four days, with almost 80% of visitor nights spent in the area utilising the public huts at either Lakes Vera and/or Tahune for overnight accommodation. Apart from the Overland Track, Frenchmans Cap is the only other backcountry walk in the TWWHA where such a public hut-based walk experience is possible.

Walkers are not the only recreationists who utilise the area. Frenchmans Cap has been popular with rock climbers for more than 40 years and many traditional-style routes have been established on its steep walls. The wild Franklin River’s gorges partly surround Frenchmans Cap and the Irenabyss Track provides a recreational link for both rafters and walkers.

Several companies are licenced to undertake commercial walking trips, however customer demand for a guided experience has been relatively low to date.

Many sections of the main access track have been subject to construction or stabilisation works at various times. Major PWS-funded works were undertaken during the 1980s and 90s, mainly in the higher altitude areas, with a focus on environmental protection. The most recent track work is part of an ongoing 10-year project, begun in 2008, facilitated by business person Dick Smith providing $100,000 annually to the Wildcare Inc Gift Fund. A major part of this project has been the construction of a new 4.5 kilometre track section bypassing much of the former “Sodden Loddon” plains. The opening of this bypass in March 2013 resulted in an immediate 50% increase in walkers, with a lesser trend since.

In addition to the indisputable scenic and recreational values, aspects of the area’s flora and geoheritage values are important. Rainforest and fjaeldmark communities are particularly noteworthy environmental values of the Frenchmans Cap area. The large area of rainforest in the Lake Vera-Barron Pass area contains large and very old specimens of King Billy and Huon pine, and the Huon pines are amongst the highest altitude occurrences known. This forest is particularly important given the fate of neighbouring rainforest areas destroyed in a 1966 wildfire. The summit dome of Frenchmans Cap is of particular significance, being the most alpine of all mountain country in Australia and containing several rare and trampling-sensitive species.

As the Frenchmans Cap area becomes increasingly popular, preserving its wild character while maintaining the self-reliant visitor experience will involve careful planning. The purpose of this plan is to outline the values and management issues that will need to be addressed in coming years, describing actions that aim to protect both the area’s high conservation values and the visitor’s experience.