Supporters of the Mount Roland cable car believe the time has come to build it, more than two decades after the proposal
The vertical rock columns of Mount Roland dominate historic Sheffield in northwest Tasmania.
- There is a proposal for a 13 cabin gondola on Mount Roland in Northwest Tasmania
- The indigenous community opposes the proposal and considers the mountain sacred
- Some business owners are hoping the proposal could boost tourism in the region, which has felt the impact of ongoing border closures.
The small town attracts tourists from the Tasmanian spirit to see its colorful murals.
For visitors, a horse and cart instead of white utilities seem to be suitable on the wide main street littered with historic buildings.
Some stores have been run by the same family for five generations.
But as the COVID-19 pandemic slows visits to the city, there are those looking for new ways to get people to go for scones and tea – and they’re all resting on Mount Roland.
Company owner Des Brown has been waiting to see a cable car climb the mountain for 22 years and is hoping it can finally come to fruition.
“I think there are more people now who see that it would be a good viewer,” he said.
“We have shown around the world that you can do these things in a reasonable and sustainable way.”
A proposal for a 13-cabin cable car to Mount Roland and an adventure district is on the state government’s controversial list of expressions of interest in the development of Tasmanian parks and reserves.
The cable car would take people directly to the top of the mountain, where they could engage in “mountain-based activities,” the proposal says.
This includes a mountain bike network built by the same company behind the Maydena and recently opened Queenstown trails.
Local Larina Chester thinks the idea is a perfect fit for the city.
“I think it’s a good idea, how much fun,” she said.
“I think it would help a lot to keep traffic flowing here because when it’s quiet it’s calm and I think something like that would really help bring people into the city and help boost the economy.”
Call on the state government to intervene
This is not the only cable car proposition in the state.
Hobart has grappled with the prospect of a cable car to the top of Kunanyi / Mount Wellington for about a century, with strong voices for and against the proposal.
In July, Hobart City Council voted to deny the development request because it would reduce the recreational, cultural, tourist and landscape value of the iconic mountain.
Mr Brown said he wanted the public to have a say in the projects.
“Where you have special projects, keep them away from air combat, but let people have their say democratically.”
The local indigenous community also wants the government to intervene. However, she wants projects like the cable car to be excluded.
“It’s been an intermittent discussion for many years now. I love when it’s off and not on,” said Dave mangenner Gough, a local aboriginal and chairman of the Six Rivers Aboriginal Corporation.
“I’m surprised it never seems to stop, it seems like a few people want to push forward this idea and concept which is such an outdated and inappropriate thing for today.
“The government must… be aware that this is something that will drain money, it will drain resources and it will impact people without a positive result.”
“A sacred mountain”
Mr Gough said Mount Roland was important to indigenous peoples, comparing the proposal to building a cable car over Uluru.
“Sacred mountains must be walked lightly and they must not have any mechanisms or means that obscure or remove them,” he said.
“If you can’t walk lightly and leave it better than you found it, you shouldn’t come near it.”
He said that around the mountain was once an important trade route.
“This area where Mount Roland is located and these other mountain ranges are trade routes for many families who have traded through these areas for thousands of years,” he said.
“It affects from our ancestors to us and to our future generations.”
He also believes the development would harm the reasons visitors come to Mount Roland.
“People come to our country and our landscapes to visit natural and culturally strong environments… not to climb on a mechanical device to climb a mountain.”
Artist and business owner Mark Beech-Ross said development was inevitable and that way the Kent community could control what it looked like.
“What it is about is that the local people are taking control of the tourism industry,” he said.
“To have a tourist facility that is owned by the locals, that provides opportunities for the locals, it does not belong to the big corporations controlled from Sydney, Singapore or anywhere else in the world.”
Make the mountain accessible
The idea of a cable car up the mountain is not new, as the council launched a cable car project in 1999.
Mr Brown said the mountain was surveyed at the time for a cable car and a road.
“At the time, it was about establishing a task force and we had people in the state government departments … and it was a shame that he just left and died. “, did he declare.
A cable car proposal resurfaced in 2011, where a UTAS report for the Mount Roland steering committee said the main issue limiting visits to the mountain was accessibility.
The report also suggested that a cable car and mountain biking on the mountain “would likely bring tremendous benefits to the Municipality of Kentish.”
Sheffield-based company owner Leanne Tamas said a cable car would allow anyone to enjoy the mountain, regardless of age or disability.
“I haven’t been there myself, but they say you can see the sea once you get to the top, so it’s a no-brainer,” she said.
However, Mr Gough believes there are other ways for people with reduced mobility to experience the mountain – through audiovisual experiences such as.
A spokesperson for Tasmanian Parks and Wildlife said the developer must now request a Reserve Activity Assessment (RAA), a process that includes public consultation.
“No RAA has been prepared and no lease or license has been issued,” the spokesperson said.