Project stakeholder update - July 2021

The Snowies Iconic Walk is the working title for a project to build an exceptional multi-day walk across the alpine roof of Australia in Kosciuszko National Park - the traditional lands of the Wolgalu and the Ngarigo people.

Funding awarded for stage 4 of the Snowies Iconic Walk

In June, Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack announced $10 million in funding to deliver the 11-kilometre track between Perisher Valley and Bullocks Flat as part of the Regional Recovery Partnerships program.

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development Michael McCormack said the project will complete the Kosciuszko Snowies Iconic Walk, a world class walking experience through the internationally recognised tourism destination.

"Set in the Snowy Mountains, the Snowies Iconic Walk will showcase the unique alpine ecosystems of the Kosciuszko summit precinct," Mr McCormack said.

"This is all about attracting visitors to the surrounding region, which suffered devastating social, environmental and economic losses in the 2020 bushfires."

NSW Deputy Premier John Barilaro, whose electorate includes the Snowy Mountains, said the walking trail would cement the region as the premier adventure destination in the country.

"The Snowy Mountains is no longer just a winter destination; it is the destination of choice year-round," he said.

Snowy Monaro Regional Council Mayor Peter Beer said that the announcement is welcomed by the community and shows continued investment in the region.

"This is a key part of a long-term project assisting to lift our visitor numbers in the non-winter months, which all helps to build on our growing year-round visitor economy in the Snowy Mountains and beyond."

The project will build upon the NSW Government's $17 million investment in this iconic attraction through the Regional Growth - Environment and Tourism Fund, funded through Restart NSW.

See map on project webpage for detail of the 3 new sections of track.

Australia's highest suspension bridge completed on the Guthega to Charlotte Pass walk

The Spencers Creek bridge nearing completion in late May 2021
The Spencers Creek bridge nearing completion in late May 2021

Australia's highest suspension bridge was constructed this year in Kosciuszko National Park. At an elevation of 1627 metres above sea level, the new Spencers Creek bridge is the final critical piece of infrastructure to complete the second stage of the Snowies Iconic Walk. This 9.9-kilometre walk from Guthega to Charlotte Pass provides panoramic views of the Snowy River and majestic Main Range across the alpine roof of Australia.

The bridge is located 3.3-kilometres from Guthega near the Snowy River confluence and blends in well with the surrounding landscape. Steelworks Engineering has carefully constructed it to avoid disturbance of the creek's bed, banks and instream habitat features.

Walkers on the Guthega to Charlotte Pass walk will enjoy beautiful high-country scenery and stunning views of snow-capped mountain ranges, as well as unique flora and fauna such as gnarled snow gums, hidden valleys of mountain ash, summer wildflowers, wombats, echidnas and native birdlife.

The walk from Guthega to Charlotte Pass will open in spring 2021. This will be the first new stage of the Snowies Iconic Walk project to open to the public.

High quality and enduring track infrastructure on stage 2 of the Snowies Iconic Walk from Guthega to Charlotte Pass
High quality and enduring track infrastructure on stage 2 of the Snowies Iconic Walk from Guthega to Charlotte Pass

Charlotte Pass to Perisher Valley walk

Meanwhile, the third stage of the Snowies Iconic Walk, featuring a new section of track to link Charlotte Pass and Perisher Valley village via Porcupine Walk, has progressed well over the summer construction period. Construction will recommence after the snow melts in November 2021. The estimated completion date is early 2022.

Steel mesh walkway on stage 3 of the Snowies Iconic Walk between Charlotte Pass and Perisher Valley

Visitor experience planning

Building the track is only the first step in creating a world class, transformative experience that will make the 'bucket list' of domestic and international markets. National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) has undertaken extensive market research to identify who will be interested and how, in conjunction with tourism industry partners and stakeholders, we can create a world class walking experience of which the region can be justifiably proud.

Our market research has pinned down the key success factors for the Snowies Iconic Walk project. Success will be measured by the walk's capacity to encourage people to travel to the region and ideally spend even more time in the area before and after undertaking the walk.

The research clearly indicates that the full Snowies Iconic Walk experience - which will offer high-quality track infrastructure, great interpretation, optimal daily track lengths, support services such as ideal light pack weights and transport, quality food and accommodation options, tours and other value-adds at relevant price points - will bring new walking markets to the region. These factors complement the major drawcards of alpine scenery, unique environment, and fresh mountain weather, which set the walk apart from others.

We acknowledge and greatly value the contribution of the many research participants who have helped to generate critical market insights and will continue to work with our tourism industry partners and stakeholders to provide guided and self-guided options for experiencing this world class walk.

Project Officer Alek Cahill captured this great image of the new Spencers Creek suspension bridge recently

Snowy Mountains Special Activation Precinct – have your say

There are 2 separate but related consultations currently underway:

1. Snowy Mountains Special Activation Precinct (Department of Planning Industry and Environment)

The Snowy Mountains Special Activation Precinct is a whole of government planning initiative which seeks to re-balance the extreme seasonality of the Snowy Mountains region by promoting summer and year-round visitation while still supporting snow sport and snow play activities.

Special activation precincts are place-based planning mechanisms used to activate strategic locations in regional NSW through infrastructure investment and fast-tracked, streamlined planning to facilitate job creation and economic development.

Priorities for the Snowy Mountains Special Activation Precinct are to:

  • celebrate the unique cultural and environmental attributes that attract three-quarters of a million visitors annually to the region
  • revitalise the Snowy Mountains into a year-round tourist destination
  • reaffirm the region as Australia's Alpine Capital, with Jindabyne at its heart.

The Snowy Mountains Special Activation Precinct Draft Master Plan is currently publicly exhibited until 12 August 2021.

The Snowy Mountains SAP Master Plan will be the 40-year strategic plan for the precinct. Other local plans and development controls will need to be amended to align with this strategy. They include the amendment to the Kosciuszko National Park Plan of Management, also on public exhibition.

2. Public exhibition of the Draft Special Activation Precinct Amendment to the Kosciuszko National Park Plan of Management (National Parks and Wildlife Service)

A draft amendment to the Kosciuszko National Park Plan of Management is being publicly exhibited until 16 August 2021. The amendment would enable the elements of the Snowy Mountains Special Activation Precinct Master Plan that are on park.

Changes are proposed to the Kosciuszko National Park Plan of Management to better manage and service park visitation. Park visitation has increased significantly since the plan was adopted in 2006. This places pressure on management to provide opportunities for visitors to experience the park and protect its environment from the potential impacts of increased visitation.

Key issues proposed in the draft plan of management amendment that directly relate to the Snowies Iconic Walk include:

  • altering the alpine resort accommodation policy, including an increase in the maximum occupancy permitted in the resorts
  • enabling additional camping options within the precinct
  • allowing limited commercial vehicle support on the Summit Trail for multi-day walkers of the Snowies Iconic Walk.

The draft amendment can be viewed at the Kosciuszko National Park: Draft Amendment to the Plan of Management: Snowy Mountains Special Activation Precinct public consultation page. It is recommended that readers of the draft amendment refer also to the current plan of management.

SAP sub precincts, SAP investigation area and Local Environment Plan (LEP) zoning

Jointly funded by the Australian and NSW governments.

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