TASMANIA’S NEXT BIG TRACK COULD BE IN THE HUON!
a cycling and walking adventure from town to town, staying overnight, meeting locals and enjoying regional food and hospitality
the palawa lugganah track
(footmark of blackman)
Ways to Health, Wealth and Pleasure
– Adventure Plan for the Huon
Hike, Bike or Horseride
The stunning beauty of the Huon is what residents and visitors love. Our unique rural setting boasts a mix of forested hills, verdant valleys, clean waterways, working farms and character towns, complete with historical houses and sheds. The physical experience of natural landscapes, informed by ancient Aboriginal and rich European histories, cannot be fully appreciated by the drive-through visitor. An unexplored potential of walking, riding and cycle trails is waiting to be discovered and savoured. The Huon Trails is a chance for people to know our Valley more intimately. The hidden gems, the quiet and secret places.
Developing Easily-identifiable Tracks through the Huon Landscape
Existing Huon trails can be adapted for recreation and adventure. Trails that wind through back country, across scenic ridges and connect to historic towns. Some are already-known tracks that need only improved signage and markers. Promoting an integrated network of trails in the region is a new direction for the Huon. Similar trail ventures developed on the mainland and overseas have revitalised local economies. The benefits don’t stop there. Adventure trails encourage improved health and wellbeing for local residents, as well as visitors. Our trails will be designed for children and adults to experience the joy of walking, riding horses and cycling through the natural landscape. The Huon Trails offer a physical challenge and the chance to explore some of the most magnificent scenery in the country. For locals, the Trails will also offer alternative and additional routes by foot, hoof or cycle.
Currently, the Huon Valley is seen as a day-trip destination from a Hobart- base. The key is to change people’s perceptions to make the Huon their base. An overnight visitor will spend twice as much as a day visitor. Despite the surge of visitors to the region, tourism-related employment in accommodation and food is comparatively low. The Trails are a way to change and revitalise these important aspects of our unique Valley. Creating sustainable employment for our kids is a priority. Limited employment for younger people is forcing many to leave the area to look for work. Developing the Trails and promoting adventure tourism will be a game-changer for our young folk and the Valley. It will add greater diversity and give resilience to the Valley’s economy. We already have a reputation for gourmet food, outstanding scenery and a small-town, friendly atmosphere. Our small-business operators are a vital part of this. The development of the Huon Trails is an economical way to extend and add value to that base. A Huon Trail holiday will be a family-friendly adventure.
The Huon has many small, quiet country roads that are dangerous for riders and walkers, especially on blind corners and narrow shoulders. Along busy roads we need to separate bike tracks so that everyone, including kids, can safely ride for recreation and active travel. The increase in tourism income will support the network of small businesses. The money will stay in the valley, generate employment, support other services, and bring prosperity to the region.
The State Government has committed $80,000 for a feasibility study into mountain-bike trails. This budget could be augmented to increase the scope to include the walks and other trails across the Valley. If Council organises the feasibility study to be completed by the next Federal election in mid 2019, we will be well positioned for a Federal grant. There is a high demand for “experiential” tourism. For example, Derby’s local councils put a major financial investment into 80kms of mountain bike tracks. They estimated this would attract 5000 riders a year – they now expect 10 times that number. Hobart is drawing large numbers of tourists who could be enticed to spend a few days in the Huon Valley if there were sufficient activities to draw them.
With signage, education, strategic links and bypasses, the many existing small roads could be made suitable for family bike riding, horses and walking. Existing walking trails can be brought up to a family-friendly standard at minimal cost. These things can happen now with immediate benefits to the locals. Investment in bike tracks along major roads will depend on on Council working actively to obtain grants for these important projects. The Greater Hobart Mountain Bike Masterplan identifies the Huon Valley as a short drive from Hobart, yet far enough away to create a feeling of leaving the city for an “adventure”. A mountain bike park in the Snug Tiers has enormous potential. It is a recreation area with natural beauty and would be well supported by local population. The feasibility study should be extentended to include the Jan Zappner walking trails. Jan has been exploring the Huon for 20 years. He has mapped walking trails from each town up adjacent hills with views over the valley. His dream is to work with landowners to make an iconic eight day walk from kunanyi/ Mt Wellington to South Cape Bay — as far south as you can go in Tasmania. This “european-style” walk carrying only day packs couId traverse stunning rural and native scenery and stop overnight for food and accommodation at Vince’s Saddle, Huonville, Franklin, Geeveston, Dover, Southport and Cockle Creek. The Huon Trails proposal opens up small business opportunities that include trail building and maintenance, bike hire, shuttle bus, guiding and cultural information, trail rides and skills education. The activity generated will support businesses in gourmet food, accommodation, arts and culture.
Design and Marketing
The principle of the Huon Trails is that it is dispersed. It is not a self-contained one-stop shop. It is designed to spread the benefits of tourism widely across the Valley with opportunities for all. For example – a family could hire bikes for a guided ride one day, go kayaking a second day and then head out for a day’s walk in the wilderness. Each day they would stop for meals in a different town and stay overnight in local accommodation. As well as sharing wealth across the valley, this design prevents one area being over-run with visitors, jeopardising these communities. Huon Trails will be designed and marketed with an emphasis on family-friendly adventure in nature. It will draw in other adventure activities such as kayaking and sailing, and fit well with the Huon’s existing reputation for a friendly, local atmosphere with gentle rural landscapes. We need a high quality product and critical mass of trails and an investment in quality marketing to make a name for the Huon Valley as the adventure destination for a fun family holiday
Prosperity to the Region
Huon Trails will be a much more powerful economic driver than the Blue Derby mountain-bike trails. We have a resident population in Hobart, Kingborough and the Huon to support the use of trails at a base level. We are close to Hobart which is the hub of Tasmanias tourism. We have many small businesses already catering to visitors and a solid reputation as a day-trip destination. We will have a broader appeal because of this reputation and the variety of new experiences we will offer. The proposal is spread across the region so that the money stays in the community to be spent again by locals on other services. This means every visitor dollar equates to $1.80 in our local economy. The Derby trails have been remarkably successful and for all of these reasons the Huon Trails promises to have an even greater economic benefit to the region. The Huon Trails tick all boxes. It will benefit locals physical and mental health as well as enhancing safe daily transport options. The tourism aspect of the proposal will provide ongoing and permanent youth employment and the money that flows to the community easily justifies the expenditure, especially as it will be an investment that keeps giving year after year.