In response to inquiries, we have received an update from the office of the Minister for Tourism regarding the project.
The $1.5m allocated in the budget for this financial year will go towards the project’s operating budget, which includes Indigenous Land Use Agreements (ILUA), governance, travel, Heritage Agreements and planning advisory costs to continue to deliver the project in collaboration with the Kabi Kabi people.
Currently the size and type of eco-accommodation will be determined once the site locations have been finalized. This accommodation could be structures such as safari tents, walker’s huts or sleeping cabins along with the associated facilities such as communal eating areas, amenities, and shelters. The Department also advised that equipment materials and supplies will be sourced locally. These projects must all be delivered in accordance with the Department of Environment and Science’s Implementation Framework for Ecotourism Facilities in National Parks and Best Practice Ecotourism Development Guidelines. The project must abide by the Nature Conservation Act that outlines that any eco-tourism project must be ecologically sustainable.
Final plans for the eco accommodation component will include capped walker numbers to ensure an excellent ecotourism experience, environmental sustainability, and safety. This number will be determined once the sites have been finalised. We have been assured that the eco-accommodation will not affect the number of free and independent walkers able to traverse the Great Walk and stay on current campgrounds.
The eco-accommodation itself will be managed by CABN, however it is intended that the Department would continue to manage and maintain the existing public camping areas.
Wastewater systems will be based on their suitability in the surrounding environment and will be either fully contained or could involve an Advanced Enviro-Septic Treatment system for greywater.
With regard to development in order to facilitate access to the sites, the Department has stated that no widening or modification beyond repair of existing infrastructure is proposed. Current access for the eco-accommodation sites is through the existing sand track network throughout Great Sandy National Park with only limited short links required.
Even though there was a formal public consultation process run between June and August 2019, the Department has advised that there will be other opportunities to comment upon the proposed sites of the eco-accommodation through a Federal consultation process. This will occur once the Queensland Government lodges its referral to the Federal Department of Agriculture, Water and Environment. Once this information is released, we will post up.
More information on the Cooloola Great Walk can be found at https://www.dtis.qld.gov.au/our-work/qld-ecotourism-trails/cooloola-great-walk#h2-6