(Transcript from World News Radio)
A battle is brewing over a development proposal for Hobart’s highest point.
International investors and Tasmania’s incoming government are among those throwing their support behind a plan to build a cable car on Mount Wellington.
But the project faces opposition from local Indigenous leaders and environmentalists.
Rhiannon Elston reports.
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Towering high above Hobart, Mount Wellington is the city’s highest point.
The mountain, also known by its Indigenous name of Kunanyi, has become a point of contention in the community following a proposal to build a cable car.
Developer Adrian Bold believes Mount Wellington is, until now, a missed opportunity for tourism and investment.
“The vision for the project really is to open up better access, better enjoyment and better appreciation for Mount Wellington.”
A cable car running from the city to the mountain top is a vision that’s attracted international investors and state government support.
But not everyone is convinced it’s a good idea.
Ruth Langford, from the Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre, says Indigenous communities should have been consulted right from the beginning of the project.
“Any form of scarring of this magnificent, deeply important, deeply powerful landscape — it’s very concerning. They’re not in opposition. Caring for country and development can actually work together and we believe that when we’re actually participating in the process we can actually give clear guidance of how best to do that.”
Developer Adrian Bold says he’s tried to reach out to the Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre, along with other Indigenous groups in Hobart.
He believes the project will respect the Indigenous history of the land, and help communicate its significance to tourists.
“There’s a lot of information and many stories that people would be really willing to find out about, but there’s a severe lack of understanding, a severe lack of interpretation available to the tourism market and to the local population, which we would like to address.”
The project is also opposed by some environmentalists.
The Tasmanian Greens leader Nick McKim recently outlined an alternative concept for a $5 million walking track to link the mountain with the city centre.
“This is about sustainable development on Mount Wellington, sustainable job creation on Mount Wellington but linking Salamanca to the World Heritage area by a world class bush walk.”
But the idea of a cable car ferrying passengers to Hobart’s highest point was first put forward by locals more than 100 years ago.
This proposal is the fourth attempt to bring the vision to life.
Many locals, including more than 11,000 Facebook fans, want to see it happen.
But SBS found there were others on the streets of Hobart who didn’t.
“I’m not so sure, I think it would spoil the nice settings we have here. I’m from Brazil and I see a lot of those cable cars in many places, and I find them very, very spoiling.”
“I really don’t think it’s a good idea, it’s better to go there by walking than anything else.”
There will be a public display of the project and more community consultation next month [April 16].