People sitting around a campfire after a day of fishing at Penstock Lagoon

Angling for a safe trip

03 August 2020

Tassie’s anglers welcome the opening of our wild brown trout waters every August. This year, the coronavirus lockdown has some of us feeling a little more excited than usual to throw a line in. Maybe you’re looking forward to stalking the trout with those new flies, or you just want to drown a few worms with a mate.


But with some interstate borders reopening and the pandemic still a part of our daily lives, we must continue to take personal responsibility for stopping the spread of the coronavirus.


Back in March, Hydro Tasmania was one of many land managers that took the step of temporarily closing access to our lakes and land. At that time, every Tasmanian was being asked to play their part and stay at home. Our lakes and land reopened in early June and we have been so pleased to welcome people back.


When you visit our sites this fishing season, you might see some new signage. Some signs will ask you to comply with all State Government health advice to prevent the spread of COVID-19. It’s a simple message. Wash your hands often, maintain social distancing, stay home if you feel unwell and keep up-to-date with any travel restrictions.


Even in these remote locations, the coronavirus can easily be transmitted as people gather around boat ramps, campgrounds or toilet facilities.


Watching our friends in Victoria should remind us all how quickly things can change. You can help by doing the right thing.


And speaking of doing the right thing, at Hydro Tasmania we’re mindful of the privilege we have of being Australia’s largest water manager. When you are lucky enough to watch the sunrise on a foggy morning over Great Lake, it reminds us that we have a responsibility to look after something that’s pretty special.


We work with our partners at the Inland Fisheries Service, Marine & Safety Tasmania, Parks & Wildlife, local councils and other groups to keep our sites in order, upgrade boat ramps and jetties, build new toilet blocks, maintain flows for spawning runs and manage lake levels for the enjoyment of all Tasmanians (although someone’s always happy to tell us we’ve got that last one wrong).


So naturally it is disappointing when we find our sites vandalised or damaged. Recently, a Hydro Tasmania Facebook post that showed damage at the Catagunya boat ramp in the Central Highlands, with signs destroyed, a tree cut down and numerous animal carcasses strewn across the ground generated many angry comments. That site has since been cleaned and is now open and ready for use.


Unfortunately, it was just one extreme example of the kind of mindless vandalism that happens all too often on our land. In June, our team in the Derwent Valley removed 99 tyres from Pelham Tiers. Earlier this year, one of our heritage sites near the old Shannon Power Station was found covered in graffiti. And numerous sites have deep 4WD tracks.


Fishing, camping, hunting, boating and 4WDing are all perfectly legitimate activities to be enjoyed by everyone, in the right areas. All we ask is for people to remove their rubbish and leave each site as they would want it to be found.


There is a rich tradition in Tasmania of people and families enjoying their own “secret spot” in the bush, away from designated camp sites. Many of these “unofficial” sites are on Hydro Tasmania’s land, but because they’re away from designated recreation areas, we can’t protect give them the same level of care. So we have begun placing new, clear signage in specific areas where frequent acts of vandalism have occurred, to ensure there is no misunderstanding about what activities are allowed. These signs are a necessary step in the sustainable management of these areas.


We also know this behaviour comes from a very small number of ignorant people. It’s difficult to prevent and difficult to police, but Hydro Tasmania does have one major advantage: you and the vast majority of people who do the right thing.


So this year, please keep up the good work! Remove your waste, clean up the camp fires, stick to the established roads and sites, and stay COVID-safe. Let’s keep the land and lakes open and available for every Tasmanian to enjoy… and maybe we’ll let a few visitors in too.



This opinion piece first appeared in The Mercury on Monday 3 August 2020.

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