THE walking track to Tongue Point, a popular destination for walkers in Wilsons Promontory National Park, re-opened earlier this month, following reconstruction work in the wake of the massive fire of early 2009.
The fire raged fiercely through this area, but much of the vegetation which was so badly burnt has started to return – with spectacular results, thanks to lots of rain and sunshine in the last few months. Parks Victoria staff worked hard to stop erosion until the vegetation grew back.
Tongue Point can be accessed from Darby Saddle or Darby River – or as a stop on the way from saddle to river (or back the other way, although this is a tougher walk). The former side track to the point had degraded significantly by the time the fire went through and Parks Victoria was faced with several options. The track could be re-established, re-aligned or – and this was the option chosen – a new raised track could be built over the top.
Much of the new side track to Tongue Point is made of ‘Envirowalk grating,’ which is reinforced fibreglass. It is green and blends in more easily with the landscape than the sandy track it replaces.
Darren Hill is the fire recovery manager at the Prom and speaks very enthusiastically about the Envirowalk grating, which is being used at the Prom for the first time, but has already been tried out elsewhere by Parks Victoria.
A bonus of the grating, he said, is that it won’t carry fire, so a fire passing through this area should be much less of a problem. Also, it allows light through to the vegetation underneath, allowing it to grow and the grating to merge more easily with the landscape.
A total of 240 metres of green grating have been installed so far above the old side track to Tongue Point. There are still a couple of sections of track to be added. This will be done later this year.
Parks Victoria closed a number of tracks for reconstruction work in the wake of the 2009 fires and these have progressively re-opened in the intervening time, the Tongue Point track being one of the last.
“The side track to Fairy Cove should open any day now,” said Mr Hill. “The only track that will remain closed will be the Link Track between Whisky Bay and Picnic Bay, which includes a viewing platform. It has had to be re-aligned because of cultural sites in the area. Construction of the re-aligned track is planned for April or May.”
NEW WORKS DEPOT
Along with the track work, a major infrastructure project has been under way at the Prom in recent months. The $3.4 million construction of a new works depot on a site adjacent to the water treatment plant at Tidal River is now complete.
Parks Victoria’s Chief Ranger for Wilsons Promontory National Park, Craig Stubbings, said the new works depot was much more functional than the depot it replaced.
“It’s a really big improvement. The depot now services the whole of the Prom, and with its location near the water plant and the waste water treatment plant it concentrates all the Prom’s operational works in the one area.”
The depot houses fire fighting equipment, maintenance equipment and workshops, with the servicing of tracks and trails operated out of it. It was designed so that it covers a smaller footprint than the previous centre and vehicles can be driven in one end and out the other.
The centre is currently highly visible to anyone arriving at Tidal River – it is on the left just before you arrive at the village – but Mr Stubbings said that landscaping is due to be carried out using plant stocks grown by the Friends of the Prom in their nursery area.
He said that the old depot has now been demolished. Plans are underway to establish new motor huts and Lorikeet Flats on the site.
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