Travelling Stock Routes (TSRs) are parcels of Crown land reserved under the Crown Lands Act 1989 for use by travelling stock. TSRs have been an integral part of rural life in Australia for more than 150 years and were originally set aside to move livestock from farms to markets or railheads. Today, there are more than 6,500 TSRs on Crown land throughout NSW, covering an area of approximately two million hectares, and is used recreationally and has cultural significance for many Aboriginal communities across the State.
Local Land Services NSW (LLS NSW) had little to no information on the assets and their condition across the TSRs due to previous dispersed management. Creating an Asset Information Strategy was the cornerstone of generating an evidence base for funding from Treasury, and innovative approaches to maintaining data currency.
Creating A Consistent, Comprehensive Evidence Base within Travelling Stock Routes in NSW
Understanding the Value of Travelling Stock Reserves
Travelling Stock Routes (TSRs) are parcels of Crown land reserved under the Crown Lands Act 1989 for use by travelling stock. TSRs have been an integral part of rural life in Australia for more than 150 years and were originally set aside to move livestock from farms to markets or railheads. Today, there are more than 6,500 TSRs on Crown land throughout NSW, covering an area of approximately two million hectares. The government is committed to maintaining a viable, well maintained and connected TSR network for the future.
TSRs are an important asset and a significant part of our communities. In addition to being used by travelling stock, TSRs have a range of economic, cultural, recreational and environmental uses and values. Many TSRs are used for multiple purposes concurrently.
Economic —TSRs support a range of industries, including the farming and apiary industries. TSRs are also used for environmental and cultural tourism.
Cultural — TSRs hold values for both Aboriginal and European cultural heritage – many routes are believed to have followed pathways used traditionally by Aboriginal people for travel and trade. TSRs provide benefits to Aboriginal people as the TSR network enables them to maintain connections to Country and maintain traditional practices, access and manage cultural sites and to pass on knowledge to future generations.
Aboriginal rights and interests — Aboriginal people may have rights under the Native Title Act 1993 (Cth), or a right to claim (or undetermined claims) in TSRs under the Aboriginal Land Rights Act 1983 (ALRA). There are approximately 8,700 undetermined Aboriginal land claims under the ALRA affecting TSRs.
Recreational — TSRs are used for a range of approved recreational activities, including camping, horse riding and provide access for fishing and walking trails.
Environmental — TSRs contain significant environmental values including important remnants of native vegetation in highly cleared landscapes, endangered ecological communities and habitat for threatened species, such as koalas. The long, linear nature of the TSR network ensures that these species can move through and disperse across the landscape
Creating an Evidence Base for Funding
TSRs had been under different funding envelopes, and within those envelopes there was little to no data on the assets or their condition. In 2014, Local Land Services commenced an amalgamation process with the aim of creating a single view of TSRs.
In 2017, Local Land Services NSW and the Department of Industry commenced a review process with the community on how TSRs were being used at a local level, and what values they are important for. After the community review, the findings showed that many areas hold great significance. In 2021 Local Land Services embarked on journey in information management, and evidence-based funding requests for future liability.
Creating Information Management Systems
Due to the previous fragmented management of the TSRs, there was little to no information on the routes. Local Land Services NSW had no visibility of the assets on the 6,500 TSRs, nor the condition of those assets.
Local Land Services started building an Asset Information Strategy that included:
- GAP ANALYSIS – the sparse existing data was reviewed and consideration given to the quality and accuracy of the data. This was mapped to the information that was needed
- ASSET INFORMATION REQUIREMENTS – LLS NSW identified the asset information that was needed to support the decision-making and operational processes, as well as the data quality and accuracy requirements
- PROCESSESS – Evaluation and documentation of ongoing alignment of data needs with decision-making requirements
- RESPONSIBILITIES: Responsibilities and accountabilities for information management within the LLS NSW team
- INFORMATION SYSTEM REQUIREMENTS – Evaluating the system business requirements to support the business processes and information needs
- ONGOING DATA CURRENCY – Creating a sustainable plan for keeping all the data up to date
This Asset Information Strategy gave LLS NSW a pathway to understanding the future liability on maintaining TSRs for the community, and to make an evidence-based application for funding from Treasury.
Additionally, the outputs of this strategy delivers the information for the 4-yearly Statutory Financial Audit.
Assessing the TSRs
Asset condition assessments across 6,500 TSRs would be a lengthy process. LLS NSW created an innovative approach to moving along in Asset Management maturity, as well as creating evidence for funding requirements sooner.
LLS NSW assessed 8% of the TSR in NSW from a selection of TSRs that had different uses. The startling results were the commonality of the assets found on these routes. Most commonly these assets were found:
- Cattle Troughs
These assets could then be grouped into asset classes for prioritisation of the asset renewal program. These were:
- Critical water infrastructure
- Critical safety infrastructure (mostly in animal handling yards)
Using a skilled assessment team from AssetFuture, LLS NSW were able to establish a clear condition rating of the assets with photos as visual aids. This formed the baseline of the condition ratings used in the Asset Register for all future data acquisition.
This data was then stored as an active, dynamic Asset Register within AssetFuture, and this 8% was extrapolated to create a full picture of the assets, their condition which enables Life Cycle Costing analysis to be performed.
From this extrapolation, LLS NSW were successfully able to apply for funding to Treasury.
Data & Information Management – innovative leverage of existing process and human capital
In the initial data acquisition, LLS NSW used skilled assessors from AssetFuture. This standardisation of the condition ratings and baseline information has been used to create the comprehensive Asset Register. The subsequent Life Cycle Costing analysis underpins the Asset Management Plans now in place for LLS NSW TSRs.
Ongoing data and information management is critical to ensure the data is up to date and forecasting future liability is accurate for future funding requirements. As part of the Asset Information Strategy, LLS NSW created plan to train NSW Rangers to collect asset data. Rangers regularly travel through the TSRs as part of their daily duties, and this presents an ideal opportunity to collect data on the routes they travel, especially if an asset is damaged due to weather or animal movement.
LLS NSW arranged for the Rangers to be trained on the AssetFuture mobile application AssetCapture to collect relevant data for ongoing data currency and governance. The mobile application can be used offline, which is especially important due to the remote nature of some of the TSRs.
Realising the value of TSRs for Communities across NSW
The excellent use of best practice Asset Information Strategy and Management has created a solid evidence base that enabled the TSRs to be funded, as well as meeting statutory Financial Audit requirements.
The funding from Treasury now means that assets can be replaced – based on condition and criticality, and enable the communities that use TSRs to travel safely through NSW. The long-term vision for the TSRs is to have safe routes for all members of the community now and into the future.