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Cape Hauy track upgrade a boon for local contractors


Major improvements to the popular Cape Hauy track in the Tasman National Park are expected to be completed early next year.

The $1.2 million upgrade will enhance the walker experience and includes benching, extensive gravel surfacing, rock paving and construction of steps.

Minor realignment of the track in three areas will improve track durability and safety.

The 4.7km Cape Hauy Track is among the state’s 60 Great Short Walks and meanders through a variety of heath and woodland to magnificent steep sea cliffs overlooking spectacular rock formations.

It forms part of the Three Capes proposal, but is being treated as a discrete project in itself to make the track more sustainable and provide an economic benefit to local tourism operators. 

Contracts for the upgrade were awarded to Tasmanian businesses and around 25 jobs have been created. The project is also providing local benefits, with several Tasman Peninsula workers, contractors and suppliers being involved in the project.

David Mason’s Mountain Trails is working on the first section of the track from the Fortescue Bay camping ground to the Mt Fortescue junction.

His five-man team includes a conservation and land management trainee. He has also engaged a stonemason to assist with intricate bridge and step work.

A former field officer with the Parks and Wildlife Service, David established Mountain Trails four years ago and has worked on the Overland Track.

David said as well as using traditional track building implements such as  crowbars, wedges, feathers, picks and shovels, his team and the second contractor, Walking Track Services, were able to draw on a mini excavator to move large rocks, mechanised wheel barrows and heavy-duty drills.

“I factor in the use of mechanised equipment where possible,” he said. “The power carriers make the work so much easier and they can shift 400kg gravel at any one time.”

Helicopter drops of gravel and rock to specific work areas have also been a boon.

Heavy-duty woven bags can withstand loads of up to 800kg of rocks for trail edging and steps, as well as gravel for the track surface.

These essential track materials supplied by local contractors are trucked into a temporary helipad in the Tasman State Foresty where Parks staff, including Wanita Wells, Albert Thompson and Mike Copping, organise the loading. The aim is to fly at least once a week to ensure the track crews have plenty of material to work with. However, the weather is the deciding factor.  

David admitted it was “uncomfortable” working during winter but at least the rain showed the locations of natural springs and where to place culverts.

With only a maximum of an hour to walk back to the Fortescue Bay campground and car park, his crew is able to warm up and dry off in their comfortable accommodation on Tasman Peninsula.

Life is a little harder for Geoffrey Lea’s Walking Track Services crew. Working on the latter section of track nearer the cape, they have erected a camp and spend their working week nights “under canvas”.

Environment, Parks and Heritage Minister Brian Wightman inspected the track this week.

“Being able to view the magnificent scenery along the proposed route was an amazing experience,” he said.

 “Even on those parts of the Cape Hauy track that were only partly completed, I was impressed with the extremely high quality of the track work,” Mr Wightman said.

The ABC 7.30 program  has filmed trackwork in progress and will present its report in the next few weeks.

  “It was also great to see that projects like these are able to benefit Tasmanian-based companies like Helicopter Resources during times of the year when they would traditionally not have as much business.”

Photos - Ben Clark and Jane Lovibond

Cape Hauy track upgrade a boon for local contractors

Visitors are warned of trackwork ahead

Cape Hauy track upgrade a boon for local contractors

Contractor David Mason and Three Capes project manager Colin Shepherd check out work on the track

Cape Hauy track upgrade a boon for local contractors

Trackwork is a muddy business even in fine weather

Cape Hauy track upgrade a boon for local contractors

Beautifully-crafted steps make the going eaiser

Cape Hauy track upgrade a boon for local contractors

Mechanised equipment is a boon to trackwork

Cape Hauy track upgrade a boon for local contractors

The choppper drops a bagged load of gravel on the track

Cape Hauy track upgrade a boon for local contractors

Wanita Wells, Mike Copping and Albert Thompson assist with refuelling

Cape Hauy track upgrade a boon for local contractors

Materials and equipment are prepared for an onsite heli-drop