Safety comes first on Mt Somers track

John Duncan (left) of the Ashburton Plains Rotary Club with Mt Somers Walkway Society members Barry Austin and Tiny Beckley at the unveiling of the information kiosk. PHOTO SUPPLIED

Signs save lives and big new ones at either end of the Mt Somers track will help keep the 10,000 trampers who use it every year stay safe.

The first of two new information kiosks was officially unveiled in perfect walking weather on Sunday.

The kiosk and sign are at the Woolshed Creek end of the track; the second will be erected at the Staveley end when the new Sharplin Falls track is completed.

The kiosks are a combined project between the Mt Somers Walkway Society, the Ashburton Plains Rotary Club made a contribution and a family anonymously gave $2000 in remembrance of many family outings on the track.

Society spokesperson Barry Austin said about 20 members of the Rotary club joined track supporters for the unveiling ceremony and a walk up to the old coal mine.

He said the new signs were important because many who walked the track were new to the area; the information helped keep them safe.

Some trampers had recently got into serious trouble because they had chosen one of the “hard”ways to Woolshed Creek hut and were luckily spotted by other trampers and rescued. “That made us realise we needed to improve the signs.”

Society members built the kiosks and were grateful for the funds donated.

Mr Austin said the track was already busy and the Woolshed Creek hut fully booked from now until April. There was plenty of room outside for tents.

He said society members spent about 2000 volunteer hours on the track last year, bringing it to a standard that could be easily walked by families with young children.

Plains Rotary Club spokesperson John Duncan said the track was a great community asset and enjoyed by locals and visitors alike. The kiosks were part of a legacy project to mark the club’s 50th anniversary.

He said the society volunteers were unsung heroes because maintenance was hard work with tools and materials having to be carried up the hill. The club was proud to give its support.

The occasion had been scheduled earlier in the year but delayed by bad weather and Covid-19.

Progress continues on the new Sharplin Falls track. The old track has been shut since 2015 following rockfalls in the area.

The society has mapped a new track to the popular falls and is currently working on environmental assessments and on engineering designs for the new bridges required.

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