Bold and beautiful? Innovation changing the national park experience

Published: December 2, 2022

There have been plenty of bold and innovative tourist developments around the country in recent years that are quickly changing the way visitors enjoy, and interact with, the Australian landscape.

And while many – like the glass walkway at Queensland’s Cobbold Gorge and the planned multi-tier walkway at Dorrigo National Park in New South Wales – are excitedly embraced by authorities and the public alike, that is certainly not always the case.

A controversial project to build a cable car on Mt Wellington near Hobart has just been knocked back by Tasmania’s planning authority after it failed to satisfy standards around noise, visual impact and biodiversity.

The Mt Wellington Cableway Company reportedly still has the option to appeal the decision by the Tasmanian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (TASCAT), but it will have to wait two years before lodging a development application for the same or a similar project.

Dorrigo rainforest centre

The company has said it will now take time to consider the project’s future. In contrast, the New South Wales Government has just announced that planning for an eye-catching new visitor centre at the Dorrigo National Park has kicked into top gear.

The centrepiece of the upgrade is a brand-new Arc Rainforest Centre featuring a spectacular boardwalk and lookout, which will be a ‘unique starting point’ for a new multi-day walk along the escarpment edge through Gondwana World Heritage rainforests.

There will be a new treetop skywalk with an upper and lower deck that will cater for all weather conditions. Spiralling walkways will take visitors down into the rainforest and connect with the existing six-kilometre Wonga Walk and the new Dorrigo Escarpment Great Walk.

Since announcing the plan in June, the NSW Government said it had been thrilled with the way the concept had ‘captured people’s imaginations’.

“This is clearly one of the most exciting and significant projects in the history of North Coast national parks,” it said in a project update.

A team has now been set up to take the project on to the next stage. A draft plan of management will be put on public exhibition next year, and the public will have an opportunity to have their say.

  • Do you think there should be more of these innovative developments allowing visitors to enjoy the Australian landscape from a different perspective, or do you think we should just leave things as close to their natural state as possible? Comment below.
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Looking forward to such I bold designs for our parks

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