The Cradle Mountain Cableway Proposal and Transport Options Study
Transport options for access to Cradle Mountain are a priority concern of the Friends of Cradle Valley. The concept of a cable car to transport people from the Visitor Centre to Dove Lake was first proposed in the Cradle Mountain Visitor Experience Master Plan (CMVEMP, PDF), released in 2016. As a follow-up to the CMVEMP the Office of the Coordinator-General was asked, in 2017, to develop a Cradle Mountain Transport Options Study. This study was to provide a
- detailed engineering feasibility of the cableway option and to consider route alignment, passenger capacity, capital and operating costs, initial environmental assessment and the impact of construction on the visitor experience; and
- review of alternative transport options.
The report of the study was to be released for public comment. However, as of October 2021 this report is still unreleased.
Our position on this proposal is as follows:
- A cableway is commercially non-viable and environmentally unacceptable.
- The Cairns Rainforest Cableway (similar length, operation & tree top level) has a potential clientele from Cairns of 10,000,000 bed-nights per annum. They charge adults $57 one way and $109 return and $272 return for family of 4. These charges have increased by approximately 30% since 2016. These charges illustrate the commercial non-viability of a Cradle Cableway at $25 per adult return and with a much smaller potential client base.
- The proposed Cradle Cableway is likely to include 40 support towers. This would entail an unacceptable footprint on the environment and the removal of native vegetation. Construction would also of necessity involve a significant proportion of labour from overseas as this expertise is not locally available.
- The current coach service to Dove Lake has received excellent feedback.
- The introduction of the current coach service using diesel/electric and diesel coaches at transport regulation standards has proven to be highly successful. The experience is ‘close to the wilderness’, flexible in being able to stop to view wildlife at close range, and flexible in being able to respond to changing demand. Drivers, mechanics, and other staff are locally sourced.
- Some of the promised $60,000,000 from Commonwealth and State sources could be well used to support the inclusion of more diesel/electric coaches and 4WD coaches for snow days.
- We call on the Government to release the study report as soon as possible. The lack of a public release after all this time raises many questions.
Update May 2023
- The $30 million funding contribution from the Commonwealth government has now been withdrawn as project information that was required to be provided by the Tasmanian government was not provided by the April 2023 deadline.
- The estimated project cost has now more than trebled in size from $60 million to $190 million.
- Consequently, the likelihood of a cableway being constructed has fortunately considerably diminished.