Friends of Melaleuca WILDCARE

The team by the completed boardwalk. Photo by Chris Hall

In 2021, Wildcare’s Tasmanian Nature Conservation Fund made a grant to the Friends of Melaleuca (the Friends) for remediation of deteriorated bushwalking track on Mt Beattie in southwest Tasmania. Boating visitors use the track to climb the mountain, which gives great views of Melaleuca Inlet, Bathurst Harbour, the surrounding mountains and Port Davey. This use has caused the track to deteriorate, especially where it crosses peaty areas.

Last year, 3 volunteers from the Friends worked with Parks and Wildlife Service (PWS) staff on the remediation (as described in this article). However, they could not finish the work because of limits on time and materials on site.

In March 2023, 6 volunteers from the Friends (Chris Hall, Lesley Ashburn, Richard Tatnell, Rob Banfield, Shannon Bratton and Stephen Mattingley) worked on the track over 5 days with 3 PWS staff (Ranger Andy Condous, Field Officer Dan Rowe and acting Ranger Steve Locke). Work focused on building boardwalk of parallel planks over a stretch of peaty moorland about half-way up the mountain.

On the first day, Dan and Steve ferried the volunteers, their gear and some tools in a PWS boat from Melaleuca to Claytons Corner of Forest Lagoon, where the track starts. After Chris, Lesley, Shannon and Stephen climbed to the work site, Dan and Steve gave them excellent introductory training on building the boardwalk. Richard and Rob remained at Claytons Corner to do remedial work on the old house there. At the end of the day, 3 volunteers chose to stay for a couple of nights at Claytons Corner, where generous host Bob Cleary treated them to fine dinners aboard his boat, while the rest of the team commuted in the PWS boat between Claytons Corner and Melaleuca.

Work on building the boardwalk picked up pace on the second and third days, with 2 crews each including 2 volunteers and 1 or 2 PWS staff. The PWS staff were excellent teachers, and did much of the heavy work of driving the pegs to support the boardwalk into the deep peat and gravel. The volunteers mainly cut and carried timber, helped establish the alignment of the boardwalk and screwed the timber together.

The crews worked in opposite directions to extend the boardwalk up from the first section built at the lowest point near where the materials had previously been dropped by helicopter. This way of working avoided the crews interfering with each other’s work and made building steps easier. Some extra timber left over from last year was also carried up to the work site to maximise the amount of boardwalk that could be built. Also, Richard and Rob finished their work on the house at Claytons Corner and trimmed vegetation overhanging the track below and above the new

On the fourth day, 5 volunteers worked with the PWS staff, building more boardwalk. Also, work started on fixing wire netting on the new boardwalk so walkers are less likely to slip on it. Building and netting of the boardwalk finished on the fifth day, with 4 volunteers and the PWS staff at work. They also installed water bars to divert water off the track above and below the boardwalk. Finally, they packed up the remaining timber so it could be lifted by helicopter for use elsewhere.

Altogether, the team built just over 80 metres of boardwalk, including 20 steps, and fixed wire netting to it all. They also installed 3 water bars.

Special thanks go to Rob Banfield and Steve Locke for organising the project, to Dan Rowe, Steve Locke and Andy Condous for their guidance of the volunteers and to Bob Cleary and Janet and Geoff Fenton for their hospitality to the workers.