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QUEENSLAND'S ECOTOURISM WONDERS.
PRESERVED. EXPLORED. TREASURED.
EDITION 9 | July 2021

Welcome to the latest edition of the Queensland Ecotourism Trails program eNewsletter. The Project Team has been working hard behind the scenes to secure a number of important approvals and reach new milestones for the Queensland Ecotourism Trails projects.
      IN THIS EDITION
  • Locals have their say on the Cooloola Great Walk Ecotourism Project
  • Cooloola Great Walk Ecotourism Project Milestone
  • Mowbray River Pedestrian Bridge complete
  • Wangetti Trail South Update
  • Market process for Thorsborne Trail and Whitsunday Island multi-day walks
  • Funding secured for Cardwell Tropical Mountain Bike Network Early Works project

Locals have their say on the proposed Cooloola Great Walk Ecotourism Project 


The Cooloola Great Walk Ecotourism Project team has wrapped up extensive community engagement across the Noosa, Cooloola and Gympie regions to have direct discussions with key stakeholders, interest groups and community members about the project. A Noosa-based company, the Social Deck Pty Ltd, was engaged to organise community engagement events.

Consultation ran parallel to the publishing of a referral for the Cooloola Ecotourism Project under the Australian Government Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act). Community engagement activities were undertaken to notify the public and key stakeholders of the EPBC Act process, as well as share information with the community on the proposal and detailed environmental assessment processes undertaken to date.

Engagement included; pop up stalls at local events such as the Rainbow Beach markets and the Come Together Festival at Noosa, one-on-one interviews with key local government, industry and conservation stakeholders, and several community information sessions. Officers from the Department of Environment and Science were joined by representatives for preferred proponent CABN and the Kabi Kabi People Traditional Owners at most events held.

Overall feedback was positive on the quality of the assessments with community members acknowledging that improving access to the national park can also improve its protection through greater awareness, education, respect and appreciation. 

Cooloola Great Walk Ecotourism Project Milestone


The Cooloola Great Walk Ecotourism Project has completed a major assessment milestone, with the Australian Government deeming the project to not be a controlled action under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act).
 
The EPBC Act was established to protect Matters of National Environmental Significance (MNES), which are nationally and internationally important wildlife, ecological communities and heritage places.  Any activity that may impact on any MNES must be referred to the Australian Government for assessment under the EPBC Act.
 

As the Cooloola Great Walk Ecotourism Project is located close to several MNES, the Department of Environment and Science (DES) lodged a referral to the Australian Government for assessment under EPBC Act in early June 2021.The referral sought approval for:
  • Construction of the five proposed eco-accommodation sites;
  • Indicative structure designs;
  • Proposed ancillary infrastructure (including raised boardwalks, access tracks, power and water infrastructure and wastewater management);
  • Construction and operations activities; and
  • A detailed list of measures to avoid and mitigate environmental impacts.

On 1 July 2021, the Australian Government Minister for the Environment advised DES that the project is not considered a ‘controlled action’ under the EPBC Act. This means that the project does not require any further Commonwealth assessment.

From here, the Cooloola Ecotourism Project will progress to finalise site designs, take into account feedback from the recent community consultation, conduct baseline ecological surveys (to inform ongoing environmental monitoring), seek local government approval, complete agreements with the Kabi Kabi People and seek a final State approval under the Nature Conservation Act 1992.

Mowbray River Pedestrian Bridge Construction Complete


Construction of the new Mowbray River Pedestrian Bridge is now complete. This first stage of the Wangetti Trail project was delivered by North Queensland Civil Contractors with Yirrganydji/Nyakali and Kubirri Warra Yalanji Cultural Heritage Monitors on site throughout the 11-month construction period. Around 20 people were employed during peak construction of the 65-metre bridge which includes a viewing platform to offer locals and visitors a safe way to take in the scenery of the Mowbray River and spot the resident croc ‘Mo’.

The Australian Government has committed $8 million to the Wangetti Trail project under the National Tourism Icons Program and the Queensland Government committed $38.9 million for construction of the trail. A related $1 million project by the Department of Transport and Main Roads to build dedicated turning lanes and upgrade the existing car park to service the new Mowbray River Pedestrian Bridge has also been completed.

The Queensland Government will work with the Australian Government and the Douglas Shire Council to officially open and handover the new Mowbray River Pedestrian Bridge in the coming months.

Wangetti Trail South Update 


Since securing the design and construct tender for Wangetti South, world-leaders Wagners CFT have been onsite to conduct detailed surveying and design works. The 33-kilometre Wangetti South section will connect Palm Cove to the Wangetti township and feature a public camping site.
 
Last year the Queensland Government referred the Wangetti Trail project to the Australian Government for assessment under the Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act).
 
The protection of the natural and cultural values of the unique World Heritage listed landscape the trail will traverse is paramount. The Project Team has been working closely with the Wet Tropics Management Authority and the Australian Government to deliver the trail in line with a suite of strict conditions and strategies to mitigate any risks to the environment during the construction and operation of the Wangetti Trail.
 
In the coming weeks, the Queensland Government will submit information on the management plans and strategies that will be upheld throughout construction of Wangetti South section of the trail to the Australian Government under the EPBC Act. Following this submission, there will be a public notification period in which the public will be invited to comment on the project. Details on how to make a formal submission will be available on the Australian Government Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment website, and details will be made available on the Queensland Government Department of Tourism, Innovation and Sport website.
 
The Wangetti South section of the trail will provide employment and traineeships for locals and Traditional Owners including cultural monitoring onsite to protect items of cultural significance found during construction. Subject to necessary approvals, it is anticipated construction of the Wangetti South section of the trail will commence late 2021.
 
The $41.4 million Wangetti Trail project is funded by the Australian Government under the National Tourism Icons Program and the Queensland Government and once complete is expected to inject up to $300 million into the local economy each year.

Market process for Thorsborne and Whitsunday Island multi-day walks 


In 2018 the Queensland Government ran a market process seeking private sector proposals to create ecotourism experiences at the existing trails the Cooloola Great Walk and Thorsborne Trail, and the under construction Ngaro Walking Track (formerly the Whitsunday Island Trail).
 
The Expression of Interest stage closed in November 2018 and since this time the Thorsborne Trail and Whitsunday Island Trail processes have been on hold while the Project Team engaged extensively with the local Traditional Owners for each project.
 
Government has concluded that the process to identify private investor ecotourism opportunities for these two trails has not met the expectations of the community and the Traditional Owners as originally planned, therefore these processes have been closed.
 
Creating new and sustainable ecotourism experiences that will responsibly share Queensland’s special natural and cultural places with visitors remains a priority to the Government.
 
The construction continues on the new multi-day Ngaro Walking Track on Whitsunday Island and the Government is continuing to engage with the Traditional Owners regarding the development of suitable low-impact, ecologically sustainable ecotourism opportunities along the track. The desire to keep the Thorsborne Trail on Hinchinbrook Island as a remote experience is clear. In line with the Hinchinbrook Island Management Plan, the Government is exploring options with the Traditional Owners to improve the experience for visitors along the Thorsborne Trail.

Early Works Funding for the Cardwell Tropical Mountain Bike Network


Last year the Queensland Government contributed $50,000 of matched funding for the Cassowary Coast Regional Council’s investigations into a locally-driven proposal for a new mountain bike trail network in the Cardwell region. The feasibility study has support from the Girramay Traditional Owners, who are represented on the Project Control Group, along with representatives from the Department of Tourism, Innovation and Sport and the Department of Environment and Science.
 
While the feasibility study is still being finalised, the proposed Cardwell Tropical Mountain Bike Network has been given a boost after securing nearly $500,000 in Australian Government funding for the Stage 1 Early Works project. This funding from the COVID-19 Relief and Recovery Fund was allocated to sustaining tourism at Australia's iconic World and National Heritage sites and supporting regional communities to benefit from increased tourism when COVID related travel restrictions ease.
 
The Early Works project will create mountain bike infrastructure such as a trail head, pump track, bike wash, signage and some trail. This infrastructure will contribute to the community’s desire to build an iconic mountain bike economy in the Cardwell region.
 
The Department of Tourism, Innovation and Sport and the Department of Environment and Science will continue to work closely with the Cassowary Coast Regional Council on the broader Cardwell Tropical Mountain Bike Network and the Early Works project.
CONTACT
For more information or to keep up to date, please contact us:


                   

State Projects, Tourism Division
Department of Tourism, Innovation and Sport 
Phone 1800 957 852 (Mon-Fri, 9am-5pm AEST)
PO Box 15168
City East QLD 4002
PROTECTING CULTURE 
PRESERVING NATURAL ASSETS
FUTURE-PROOFING REGIONAL COMMUNITIES


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Department of Tourism, Innovation and Sport · PO BOX 15168 · City East · Brisbane, Queensland 4002 · Australia

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