Conserve & Manage Why can’t wilderness just be sacred… LAKE MALBENA!

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    Greg French

    Hi Gary

    Legally the organised event has to be done as described a few posts ago (a real bugger, I agree – no one is angrier than me).

    Remember, though, these restrictions only apply to the organised event. As an independent walker you are free to walk to Malbena whenever you want. If the time you choose to go coincides with the event, so be it – I’ll very much enjoy seeing you there.

    I understand that the gate to Gowan brae will be open for an hour or so on Saturday morning just after the rally at 9:00 am but that all cars will have to leave Gowan Brae between 5:00 and 6:00 pm on Sunday when the gate will be closed.

    Just make sure you check these times with Reclaim Malbena volunteers at the rally in case we’ve been forced to change things.

    In any case you can definitely walk along the Gowan Brae road to the WHA boundry and beyond during this weekend.


    Greg French

    Hi again Gary

    My colleague Dan Broun has just made a post on our Eventbright page which further clarifies the situation:

    A Message from a coalition of individuals :Hello Reclaimers!


    It’s been an interesting few days to say the least.

    Firstly, apologies for the ambiguity but Greg French and myself have had a bit of juggling to do to manage this.

    Many of you have expressed the wish to walk into Lake Malbena for Saturday night and I simply can’t encourage you to do that, however. I strongly suggest that as independent bushwalkers and anglers that have an interest in walking in the area on the weekend I can’t stop you…

    Saturday will unfold in this way.

    From 9am we will gather at the gates of trawtha makuminya(Gowan Brae), there’s a lovely place to gather. We have invited press and we wish to make a show of the fact that PWS(under direction from the highest level of government) have prevented us from walking into the TWWHA en masse on a 4WD track to Olive Lagoon and subsequently blocked  a smaller number of us from walking into Malbena, despite many assurances we would practice leave no trace, despite the fact we said we would carry poo tubes, despite the fact we are experienced and respectful walkers.

    So what are the options?

    We make a show of being locked out for the media and to make visual content. We form a guard of honour to wave on a selected 8 walkers who will officially represent us at Lake Malbena. After that we settle in for morning tea and the media will disperse.

    At that point independent walkers will find they have access via high clearance vehicles to the TWWHA boundary near Johnsons Lagoon, where they can independently walk wherever they choose into the TWWHA. I understand some people may want to independently walk in via this route on the Friday. We have the blessing of the Aboriginal community to do just that. That is, to follow the Gowan Brae Rd to the TWWHA boundary. Where they go independently from there is up to them. I understand there is lovely camping near Malbena, at Lake Loretta and at Mary Tarn, as experienced and independent walkers we know how to walk observing leave no trace principles. It would be grand to bump into a few of you out there. I’ll be independently walking in that area from the 6th.

    I hope this clears up how we can make a presence and a point at the rally, but also spend some quality time in the area thanks to the generosity of the Tasmanian Aboriginal community.

    If anyone would like to chat about this I’ll be taking calls over the weekend.

    For Malbena and for the Wild Places, Dan x

    0400 758 541



    Thanks Greg for clarifying things. Much appreciated.





    The following was posted on the Fishers And Walkers Against Helicopter Access Tasmania Facebook group:

    A letter from the heart. Keep the peace.

    While the secrecy and back room deals to sell out our wild places solely for cashed up visitors goes on, Lake Malbena remains as it always has been, peaceful. I sat on the shoreline in recent days and cherished the silence. I think I noticed it more because that silence is under threat. Under threat from the hands of greed. Under threat from a Government who have become real estate agents for our wild places. I sat and I went from sadness to anger and now I am just angry. Angry because if they get their helicopters and their private island it will be lost. One more wild place destroyed by greed. I also thought to myself if Mr Hackett does get his way what is he going to tell me when I arrive at that shoreline of Halls Island? Is he going to look me in the eye and tell me to go home? What will I say in return? I think I will just go about putting up my tent and boiling the billy. I might tell the customers how I used to come here for the peace and quiet but they took that away.

    As I walked out I made a commitment to myself to keep the peace. They can’t take that away.”



    Media Release

    5 December 2019

    Court finds Commonwealth Government decision on Lake Malbena ‘heli-tourism’ invalid

    The Federal Court has found that the Commonwealth Government’s decision that no approval is required under Commonwealth environmental law for the Halls Island helicopter-accessed luxury tourism proposal in the Tasmanian wilderness was invalid. The Court has ordered that the Government remake its decision under the national environmental law, the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (Cth) (EPBC Act).

    This important outcome was achieved by EDO Tasmania, acting for the Wilderness Society (Tasmania), following its successful Federal Court challenge to the Commonwealth decision that the tourism accommodation proposal was not a controlled action.

    The Federal Court ruling of 12 November 2019 found that the Government’s decision was flawed, with the legal challenge successful on two of three of its grounds of review. Now both parties have reached agreement on the Court orders to give effect to that ruling. The Commonwealth has agreed to a Court order that the original decision be quashed and a new decision made.  These orders were made by the Court yesterday.
    Environmental Defenders Office Principal Lawyer Nicole Sommer said:

    “The concession by the Commonwealth Government that its decision was invalid and must be remade under the EPBC Act shows that our client was right to take this legal action.”

    “Our client, the Wilderness Society, today submitted new evidence to the Environment Minister about this project’s noise and wilderness impacts on World Heritage values, evidence that was not before the Department when the first decision was made. This new evidence demonstrates that the project is clearly unacceptable because of the significant impact it will have on wilderness values.  It should be rejected by the Minister under the EPBC Act.

    “At the very least, this project must now go through a full and detailed assessment, allowing Tasmanians to have a say on what happens in their World Heritage Area. The Environment Minister’s new decision will be a test as to whether the Government will wave through development in World Heritage Areas.

    “If private development of a World Heritage Area, on public land and in the heart of the wilderness, is not deemed to be clearly unacceptable, or doesn’t even need approval to proceed, then we have to ask serious questions about the process.

    “The Court’s ruling and this outcome to remake the decision have national implications, beyond this development. The Court makes very clear comment on the need for the Commonwealth to ensure it is adhering to its international obligations, as implemented in our national environmental laws, when assessing developments within World Heritage areas.

    “We are really lucky to have such a unique, wild, and remote World Heritage Area in Tasmania. It is internationally significant. National laws are there to protect our wildest places and keep their values intact for current and future generations.

    “These places belong to all of us, and the World Heritage Convention, which Australia has signed up to, recognises that the public must be involved in decisions about their future. The Court’s decision reinforces the importance of public participation as integral to decisions about development of World Heritage Areas and we hope this is manifest in the Minister’s new decision-making process.”

    Background to the case

    The Wilderness Society (Tasmania) Inc challenged the Commonwealth Government’s decision that no detailed assessment was required under the EPBC Act for this development on Halls Island on Lake Malbena in central Tasmania.

    Halls Island is within the Walls of Jerusalem National Park and forms part of the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area (TWWHA). The tourism proposal involves an accommodation complex and board-walking on the island, a helicopter landing site off-island and up to 240 helicopter flights a year between Derwent Bridge and Lake Malbena.

    The TWWHA is an internationally listed World Heritage site and a listed national heritage place. The EPBC Act requires actions which are likely to have a significant impact on a matter of national environmental significance, such as World Heritage or national heritage values, to be subject to rigorous and transparent assessment process with public participation.  The EPBC Act also empowers the Minister for Environment to decide that the action would have clearly unacceptable impacts.

    The EPBC Act is the legislation which implements Australia’s international obligations under the World Heritage Convention to protect World Heritage properties like the TWWHA.

    TWS was represented by barrister Emrys Nekvapil and lawyer Claire Bookless from Environmental Defenders Office (Tasmania) Inc.



    This is tremendous new!

    My heartfelt thanks to the EDO/Wilderness Society (Tasmania) and others who have contributed funds and support.

    I hope the Reclaim Malbena event also gains more publicity against this  proposal. I would like to be there but unfortunately have to work.

    The proposal is invalid, immoral and plain wrong.  Thank goodness the Federal Court could see that.





    Yes, monumental decision but a long way to go. I will be at the boom gate gathering in the morning and WFFC dinner in the evening. Two very different worlds.



    Congratulations to The Wilderness Society of Tasmania, they have done, and continue to do, an outstanding job with this process.



    And so a gleam of sunlight begins to hearken and warm.

    Nice work, Thanks to many good people and their good efforts we may yet get a chance to be fully heard.

    And Boss…for heavens sake please dont bail on this thread just because its only 29 pages long. It is a good historical record and a good read.

    High Regards to the Malbena defenders as well…




    I am currently volunteering as a controller on one of the Northern rivers during the WFFC.

    This morning, while we were loading gear into my vehicle to ferry two of the competitors to their beats, an elderly Italian gentleman (bit rich me calling someone elderly!🙄) was accompanying one of the competitors as a spectator . He saw the “Keep the Western Lakes Wild & Public” sticker on my vehicle. He tapped it and asked if I was against the development. When I said yes and that I was going to a protest event on Saturday morning, he actually thanked me. He then went on to say that he fished in the last World Fly Fishing Champs in 1988 and stayed on for a while afterwards to fish the Western Lakes and that they should be protected at all costs. A bit later in the day as the competitors were getting their gear ready to start fishing, I noticed the old guy photographing both stickers on my car. Not as exciting as news of our court win but it gave me a bit of a buzz to think he cared enough to ask me about it!


    Greg French

    This is a huge win: the EDO and Wilderness Society have my eternal gratitude, and they should have yours too. Why not send them a thank you?

    We can’t rest, however. The government has way too much invested in its secretive EOI process to give up now. I’m sure it realises that it picked the wrong development for its test case, but I’ve no doubt that it’s in it for the long haul. I’ll give an update on exactly how the government is likely to react in a day or two.  In the meantime, it’s vital that we keep making life uncomfortable for supporters of the development.

    Reclaim Malbena looks like its going to receive huge media attention, and in order for the event to gain maximum coverage we need maximum turnout. Please, don’t let the legal win dissuade you from attending.

    Today I checked the road from Pine Tier Lagoon to the boom gate, and conditions are much better than I expected. I drove my little Echo all the way with no trouble whatsoever, and there’s plenty of firm dry ground on which to park. That said, the last 2.5 km (exactly) from the bridge over the Nive River to the boom gate is always a bit slimy after rain, and a bit rough too. If you only have access to a small family sedan and are nervous about driving on poorly formed roads, you may want to consider car pooling.

    Remember, the event is slated for 9:00 am on Saturday, with speeches beginning at 10:00 am. If you care about Malbena, please be there.



    Just out of interest, is anything happening between 9:00 and 10:00 or is that time just to allow everyone to arrive and get organized?


    Greg French

    Brekel, to answer your question, the hour between 9:00 and 10:00 is time for people to socialise and ask question of the Reclaim Malbena organisers. More importantly, it’s time for the media to take photos and do vox pop interviews. If you can at least make it by 9:30 or thereabouts, that would be greatly appreciated.

    Hope to see there!



    I’m aiming to arrive about 9:00.  Looking forward to it!



    Bring your raincoat. I am not far from Bronte and it is a tad wet tonight.

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