Australian Standard (AS) 2156 sets out 6 classes of walking track. The National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) aims to provide a variety of tracks in these 6 classes to meet the needs of park users.
1. Walking tracks must be planned in accordance with:
- the park’s plan of management (PoM) or statement of interim management intent (SIMI)
- the Park Visitor Facilities Policy (internal document available to staff)
- the Park Facilities Manual (internal document available to staff), which includes technical descriptions of the 6 classes of walking track outlined in AS 2156.
2. Tracks must be appropriately located, designed to minimise environmental impacts, and appropriate to the setting, as noted in the Sustainability Assessment Criteria (internal document available to staff). The planning, development and management of walking tracks should also take into account:
- public safety issues
- how the track fits within other walking opportunities, such as off-park tracks
- opportunities to provide access for people with disabilities
- resources needed to keep the track maintained.
3. Generally only pedestrians are allowed on walking tracks unless a track has been designated as suitable for other users through a park’s PoM and the installation of signs. (People using motorised wheelchairs and other disability aids are ‘pedestrians’ for the purpose of this paragraph.)
4. The park authority may close part of or all of a walking track, either permanently or temporarily, for management or visitor-safety reasons. Decisions to close a walking track will be guided by the principles for closing park roads and trails that are outlined in the vehicle access policy.
5. The Australian Walking Track Grading System (AWTGS) is a means of informing the public about the features of a walking track so that visitors can confidently determine which tracks are appropriate for them. The AWTGS includes standard symbols and text for communicating walking-track experiences.
6. Information and signs to communicate walking-track experiences are to be provided in accordance with the Signage Manual (internal document available to staff).
7. In some places it’s appropriate to use interpretative signs to help visitors learn about parks. Such signs are most often used for tracks that correspond to Grades 1 and 2 of the AWTGS. They should explain natural and cultural features and their inter-relationships, rather than simply naming features.