Protect the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area (TWWHA)

Western lake

Save the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area (TWWHA) in the Central Highland from Earth biggest enemy: Human himself. Anglers, walkers, nature lovers, we came to a point where we need your help and mobilisation. Some really dangerous things are happening behind our back, very quietly. In the last decades, Human kept doing the same mistakes over and over, never learning from the past. It caused the end of the more glorious civilizations all along History. Today, nothing changed despite many alarms and warning from scientific community. Thousands of insect species are disappearing every year, hundreds of birds, fishes and mammals soon joining the long list.


There is a project going on in a place dear to my heart, commonly called “The Western Lakes”. A fly fishing business, “RiverFly 1864” wants to establish a “luxury standing camp” in the Walls of Jerusalem National Park, right in the middle of this Wilderness World Heritage Area. This project is in final stage of approval by the Government. People would be dropped with helicopters, in the middle of this almost untouched and rich of wildlife part of the park. As mentioned on the “Parks and Wildlife Service” website, it is one of the last wilderness region on Earth. They would build cabins with kitchen/toilets and a wide panel of activities would be available, such as guided kayaking, bush walking and fly-fishing on Halls Island, near Lake Malbena. The project is qualified by the business as “Eco-responsible”. The area's status changed by Holly Spirit operation in 2016, from “wilderness zone” to “self-reliant recreation zone” which would legally allow this kind of tourism/very lucrative business.

How can they even talk about Eco-tourism while planning to drop people with helicopters, build cabins and heliport in the middle of a National Park ? They would allow 120 helicopters every year, consequences would be terrible. No doubt it would be a very lucrative project. Obviously, it interested some other developers and at least 25 proposals have been made according to an article in ABC. Another article from the ABC said that Tasmania's national parks advised to reject the luxury tourism proposal.

western lakes
Do we really want to see luxury cabins on this kind of photos ? (Picture from one of my trips on the Plateau)

So it is not only a fisherman's ethic question, even though for the purists, it is way much more rewarding to walk 20km everyday to finally reach this trophy lake far from everything, but a matter of keeping those, too rares nowadays, untouched areas. If we start taking this path, there will be fishing lodges everywhere on the Central Highland and the wilderness will start to vanish. Worse, the area will start to be contaminated with plastics and other Human litter, it will just end up like everywhere else in the World. We are lucky enough to have access to this kind of places, we need to protect them. Is that really what Daniel and Simone Hackett want to leave behind for the next generations ? Is the money that worth ?

I have been aware of this thanks to Simon Taylor, a local fly fisherman who relayed the information through the Facebook Group « Tasmanian fly fishers ». He is member of the group « Fishers & Walkers Against Helicopter Access Tasmania » and initiated the protest movement with Brett Michael Smith and 2 other men. As soon as I took notice I asked him more details about it and thought about relaying on the growing French web magazine. People from all over the world should be aware of what's happening here. The protest group counts 628 likes for now and I call everybody to join it, fisherman or not, and even more if you don't know the area and want one day, have a chance to embrace this wonderful peace of heaven. The ABC released articles about the situation but as concerned fishermen, we need to share this and make our voice heard. Do we really want to see one of the last untouched part of Australia accumulating luxury buildings to accommodate rich tourists who are too lazy to walk ? Do we really want to see those kind of places, polluted, having helicopters flight several times a week to carry people and rubbish over the Plateau ? Helicopters should only be used for emergency and rescue situations in the WWHA as it is now. Fishermen are famous all over the World to defend and protect the water systems. The people at the origin of this project, considered as a strong lobby, should not reach their goal of money-making by sacrificing Wilderness World Heritage Area !

western lake

Last update says that today, 24th of October, the Wilderness Society are taking the project to Federal Court. It has also been revealed that Federal parliament have a transcript stating anglers haven't been consulted at all and the way effluent would be carried out. They plan to remove them from site by helicopters in slings and containers. Eco-responsible, they said.

A rally has been organised by the group's managers on Sunday 28th of October, in the Civic Square in Launceston, to give anglers a voice in the opposition for the commercial helicopter access to the Walls of Jerusalem National Park. I invite all the Tasmanian who care about this place to be there and represent all of us on the mainland or overseas. Guest speaker, the famous Tasmanian author Greg FRENCH will be present. Admired by many, he has been describing the area through many books, among all, the BIBLE “Trout waters of Tasmania” (first edition in 1994 and re edited in 2011).

I let Simon introduce himself and share his opinion about the topic :

Simon with a very nice wild brown trout from "out West".

“I have lived in Tasmania my entire life, and started fly fishing local waters at the young age of 8. I had a stint participating in competitive fly fishing; after coming second in the Tasmanian Fly Fishing Championships three years in a row (1999, 2000, 2001), I was lucky to win the Tasmanian Championships in 2002. I represented Australia 4 times in international competitions, with my personal highlights being competing in the 1996 World Fly Fishing Championships in the Czech Republic, being a member of Australia’s gold medal winning team in the 1999 Commonwealth Fly Fishing Championships, in which I was lucky enough to win the individual silver medal.

While I have been lucky to travel and fish in many different parts of the world, for both trout and salt water species, it has given me the appreciation of how special, fragile and unique the TWWHA and Western Lakes fishery are.

The 1999 Western Lakes management plan was set out by working with the many stake holders of the area (walkers, anglers, Parks and Wildlife, government and was open to the public). In 2016 the current Liberal Government introduced a new TWWHA management plan which incorporates a large area of the ‘Western Lakes’. This new plan was done with no, or little public input. The new plan has changed a large area which was previously classified ‘wilderness’ to ‘Self Reliant Recreation’ and allows for aircraft landings and the construction of ‘standing camps’. The previous plan did not allow either. The government has ignored the National Parks and Wildlife Advisory Council (key adviser under law to the Federal  Environmental Minister) who are against the Lake Malbena development within the Walls of Jerusalem.

The Western lakes is an amazing area, composing of around 3000 relatively small and shallow lakes and tarns, which offer wold class sight fishing to truly wild brown trout. The solitude and isolation of the area adds to the fishing experience. To fish the ‘back Lakes’ requires some effort, but is obtainable by most people who are willing to invest a small amount of time and effort. Allowing the commercial use of helicopters within this area I believe is a selfish, short sighted approach. It will ruin or degrade the wilderness experience for many people so a minority group (in the developers own words –‘Time Poor, High end clients) can fly in to false wilderness experience!”

Thank you very much for those words Simon and furthermore for all the efforts put together with the others members to defend the wilderness of this fabulous region. I can't imagine the disastre if such a project would be completely approved. It would open the gate for more and more similar projects and we would end up with no more wilderness areas at all on the Planet. This is a very important fact people should consider and that is why I needed to share the story here.


Useful links :

Fishers & Walkers Against Helicopter Access Facebook group : here

Tasmanian World Heritage Areas Description : here

Articles ABC : here

About the author

Fishing has always been part of Benjamin’s life. Trout in creeks first, as long as he remembers during his childhood. Freshwater predators fishing then, around Toulouse…