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A geopark in an Antarctic gateway city? The case for a Wellington geopark in Tasmania, Australia

conference contribution
posted on 2023-05-24, 20:04 authored by Mark WilliamsMark Williams, Melinda McHenryMelinda McHenry
Tasmania is an Australian island state with incredible geodiversity, second only to Scotland. State geoheritage conservation frameworks recognise over 1100 geosites of from sub-regional through to international significance. Tasmania is famous for hosting the world‘s largest exposure of dolerite, providing substantial evidence of continental drift and plate tectonics through its occurrence in the former Gondwanan supercontinent. Mount Wellington and the encompassing Wellington Park (250 km2) is a well expressed and accessible representation of a significant doleritic landscape typical of the Tasmanian landscape, and lies on the edge of Tasmania‘s largest city, Hobart. It provides the most extensive and well developed high altitude periglacial terrain in Tasmania unaffected by glaciation. The landscape evolution of the park has resulted in numerous dolerite boulder fields, talus slopes and rock columns including the well-illustrated columnar-jointed "Organ Pipes" sill immediately below the summit of Mount Wellington. Additionally, the Wellington Park features string bogs, extensive Jurassic sandstone cliffs and outcrops, Permian mudstones with extensive fossil deposition, all within relatively accessible locations relative to the Mount Wellington summit drive. Additionally, the geodiversity of the Wellington Park supports the most biologically diverse area in Tasmania due to marked variation in climate and soils. Despite the educational deficit of Tasmania‘s 500,000 citizens relative to the rest of Australia, Tasmanians have a strong sense of place and very good awareness and understanding of the value of the landscape, and particularly strong environmental intelligence. For instance, Tasmanians in general are aware of the broad geology of the Wellington Park as a ‗Dolerite landform‘ and can identify significant features with ease. Tasmanians have a strong connection to the outdoors, and spend substantially more time in natural and remote places than other Australians. Thus - the notion of a Geopark in Tasmania is one that is expected to be embraced by the public at large, and can be used to provide meaningful context to the surrounding landscape. A successful UNESCO Geopark designation would provide significant social and economic benefits for Tasmanians through educational and tourism opportunities. Notably, a Tasmanian Geopark would be the only Geopark in Australia. Currently, over 300,000 people visit the Wellington Park each year and this is managed by a state management body of rangers and scientists. Local indigenous people are actively involved in the management of the park to ensure that culturally significant sites are interpeted and appreciated. The annexation of a Geopark would involve a network of trails, both new and existing, to access a number of geosites that provide educational and recreational experiences for a wide range of people while conserving the landscape for future generations. This would have flow on effects to local communities surrounding the park, presenting additional opportunities for 'natural tourism‘ which currently attracts 2 million tourists per year. Here we outline a suitability analysis for the Wellington Park using geoheritage, geospatial and vulnerability assessment as well as stakeholder analyses so as to present a case for admission to the Asia Pacific Geoparks Network and as a UNESCO Global Geopark.



School of Geography, Planning and Spatial Sciences


International Conference on UNESCO Global Geoparks

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8th International Conference on UNESCO Global Geoparks: Geoparks and sustainable development

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Trentino Province, Italy

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  • Restricted

Socio-economic Objectives

Tourism infrastructure development

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