Wangetti Trail set to diversify tourism offering
Locals were given the opportunity to learn more about the Wangetti Trail project at a Douglas Chamber of Commerce morning tea presentation this week with special guest speaker David Edwards.
David Edwards is the Projects Chief Executive Officer for the Department of Innovation and Tourism Industry Development, the State Government department delivering the project.
In his presentation, Mr Edwards said the project is a high priority for the Queensland Government who has committed over $40 million to the project alongside the Federal Government who will also chip in $8 million.
Mr Edwards said adventure and nature-based tourism is one of the fastest-growing tourism sectors in the world attracting a high-value return customer.
He said Far North Queensland is in a perfect location to take advantage of this lucrative sector and the Wangetti Trail is aimed at becoming the benchmark trail of the region.
“In Queensland, it is really important that we diversify our tourism offering. For too long we have relied on the beach, the reef, and the rainforest. Other places in the world offer that, so we need to provide a more cultural experience that high-end tourists are looking for,” Mr Edwards said during his presentation.
The project will be built in sections with each section opened for use once completed.
Currently, works are progressing on the 65m long pedestrian bridge and fishing platform across the Mowbray River, the first construction activities, on the 94km walking and mountain biking trail from Palm Cove to Port Douglas.
The Mowbray pedestrian bridge section is due to be completed in August this year, weather permitting.
The next section of the trail, the Wangetti South section, from Wangetti to Palm Cove is currently out to tender with applications closing in August. This section will include a public campground.
Expressions of interest for an Eco-Accommodation Operator will open in late 2020.
The Wangetti North section, a 54km trail, which will include eco-accommodation, public campsites, and a suspension bridge is slated for 2021. While the Mowbray North section, 7kms between Mowbray and Port Douglas, including a mangrove boardwalk, is also slated for 2021.
The entire project is aimed to be completed by 2022.
The Trail will pass through the Traditional Land of the Yirrganydji/Nyakali and KubirriWarra Yalanji People, and Mr Edwards said working with the Tradition Owners on all stages of the project is a priority with Indigenous Land Use Agreements (ILUA) currently in negotiation.
Yodie Batzki, the Independent Candidate for Cook and a Traditional Owner in Cape York was in attendance and said ILUA agreements can be a lengthy process and it is important consultations are done correctly to progress.
Mr Edwards said the Queensland Government has been engaging with the Traditional Owners in relation to the Wangetti Trail for two years and a large number of resources were directed at working with the local groups.
The Traditional Owners will also be involved in assessing the design and construct tenders to ensure that the construction of the trail is done in a manner that protects and minimises the harm to Aboriginal cultural heritage.
In addition, a number of Traditional Owner businesses will operate along the trail once complete, in roles such as tour guides, and rangers.
“We want to ensure that there are Traditional Owner businesses that come out of this that are sustainable and ongoing,” Mr Edwards said.
Chamber of Commerce President Liz Ross said she was extremely pleased with the meeting’s turn out with over 100 people packing into the Tin Shed.
“I think the idea of a walking and bike trail is fantastic for our area,” she said
“It will expand and diversify the region’s tourism offering.”
Rodney Johnson, Owner of the Bike Shop and Hire Port Douglas was in the crowd and said it was a very exciting prospect for his business and the region.
“I think it will be a fantastic thing for the area, not just cyclers but also walkers too, and if it brings more people to the area, all businesses can benefit," he said.
Galley: A number of community members attended the presentation this week.
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