The Gold Coast Hinterland has received a major boost from the State Government, in a bid to entice tourists back to the much-loved region recently ravaged by bushfires.
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk today announced that the Queensland Government will be investing more $2.5 million to build an Australian first permanent climbing course in Binna Burra and help the O’Reilly family redevelop the Green Mountains Camping ground at Lamington National Park.
Binna Burra Chairman Steve Noakes also confirmed the exciting news to Flan, Emily Jade and Christo on 1029 Hot Tomato this morning.
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“We’ve had something planned for sometime, I think about five years,” Mr Noakes told the breakfast show hosts.
“We’ve had the opportunity in the last year or so to reactivate that and we were just about to make an announcement on it last weekend when the fires hit.”
Mr Noakes said they’re now in the process of working through the plans for the eco-tourism projects, which are promising to be a game changer for tourism in the hinterland.
“It’s about the hinterland of the Gold Coast and the opportunities in the scenic rim area of the Gold Coast to have innovative new and exciting tourism products,” he said.
The ecotourism projects are in addition to new tourism campaigns the State Government is working on for the region, which are due to be launched in the coming weeks.
“The best help anyone can give these communities is to visit and spend,” the Premier said.
“Beechmont and Lower Beechmont are some of the most beautiful areas of Queensland with a host of accommodation, cafes and natural attractions and I encourage people to continue to visit this wonderful region.”
Tourism Minister Kate Jones said work is scheduled to get underway by November 2019 and is hoping to be finished in time for the Easter 2020 crowds.
“We know locals are doing it tough in the Gold Coast Hinterland at the moment. Tourism is a vital industry in this region – that’s why we’re doing everything we can to support this sector and help locals to get back on their feet,” Ms Jones said.
It’s understood the redevelopment of the Green Mountains campground will include shiny new and improved facilities, which will attract more tourists.
“This will be achieved by providing permanent tent accommodation for those without their own camping equipment and for those unable to afford the nearby resort accommodation,” O’Reilly’s Managing Director Shane O’Reilly said.
“Those with tents will still have access to very good affordable sites but with added benefit of access to the proposed kitchen facilities which will allow visitors to prepare their own food, also reducing their costs of having to eat out in the restaurant or café.”
The Binna Burra climbing course is also a much-anticipated project, that promises to be a game-changer for adventure tourism in the Gold Coast Hinterland’s Scenic Rim.
“We’re bringing into Queensland a new adventure activity that has its origins back many centuries in Europe where simple protected paths, with ladders and basic protection aids, gave local communities access to the Alps,” Binna Burra Lodge Chairman Steve Noakes said.
“This is the type of innovative, nature based tourism that the new Binna Burra will bring to Queensland.”
It’s understood the project will see a track, known as “Via Ferrata” installed in the hinterland, offering climbing routes supported by steel cables, fixed metal rungs, bridges and ladders to enable cliff face climbing.
The system will be able to accommodate 30 people at a time and allow locals and tourists to safely scale the cliff face which is usually only accessible to experienced rock climbers with specialised equipment.
Binna Burra Lodge estimate that within three years, the via ferrata will attract 41,000 international visitors per year who will spend more than $5 million in the region.
Despite the devastating blazes damaging most of the much-loved Binna Burra, Mr Noakes revealed “not all Binna Burra is destroyed”.
“What we lost was the central core of the heritage listed cabins and our dining room, lounge, library, reception and massage building and a lot of the infrastructure,” Mr Noakes told 1029 Hot Tomato.
“But what has remained is our tea house which is up at the head of the national park and the camping ground, and also with our sky lodges, there were four independent buildings with apartments in each, and as we’ve been able to get closer to it, the damage is quite minimal. I think three quarters of the rooms are okay, they just need a bit of tidying up from the dust.”
He said the infrastructure on the remaining building, which has three apartments, also remains relatively untouched.
“Only one is severely damaged, the other two, because of the concrete construction of the building are actually quite good,” Mr Noakes said.
“The biggest issue is road access now, so when we can get that, we will be up and running fast.”
Mr Noakes said he’s now looking forward to creating an “exciting, new Binna Burra so that there will be lots of other romantic weekends for generations in the future.”