Paluma to Wallaman Falls Trail
Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic the Townsville region was experiencing significant growth in tourism with a record 1.4 million domestic overnight visitors in the year ending March 2019, a 31.9% increase compared to the previous 12 month period. The Queensland Government is supporting the future of the region through sustainable growth, protecting the environment and delivering new ecotourism experiences for visitors.
About the Paluma to Wallaman Falls Trail
The Paluma to Wallaman Falls Trail is a walking and mountain biking trail travelling along the traditional language and storylines of the Warrgamay and GuGu Badhun first nations people. Once completed in full, the trail would be approximately 127 km long (8 days / 7 nights) and provide a link between Paluma and Wallaman Falls, Australia’s largest sheer drop waterfall.
In 2019 a $450,000 injection of Commonwealth–State funding supported the development of an initial strategic business case and feasibility assessment of the proposed trail alignment. TRC Tourism Pty Ltd was engaged to assist in the development of the strategic business case in consultation with:
- Department of Tourism, Innovation and Sport
- Traditional Owner groups — GuGu Badhun, Warrgamay
- North Queensland Regional Organisation of Councils
- Local councils — Townsville, Charters Towers and Hinchinbrook
- Department of Environment and Science
- Townsville Enterprise Limited.
COVID-19 presented significant challenges to the development of the strategic business case throughout 2020 and 2021. In early 2022 The Queensland Government in conjunction with TRC Tourism and Traditional Owners implemented strategies to allow critical feasibility, alignment, and engagement activities to proceed in a safe and respectful approach. The strategic business case was finalised in June 2022.
The strategic business case confirmed the feasibility of the concept trail alignment and tourism opportunity and recommends a staged approach to its delivery. The proposed Paluma to Wallaman Falls Trail would complement the region’s diverse portfolio of natural attractions including beaches, rainforest, islands, and the Great Barrier Reef. However, of greatest importance in viability and success of the trail is that it is delivered as a Traditional Owner cultural product which would offer visitors a unique opportunity to experience a deep cultural immersion through learning the Dreamtime history of the region while walking the Trails that have existed for thousands of years.
Benefits of the proposed Trail include:
- Create sustainable employment and business opportunities for Traditional Owners
- Exemplify best practice ecotourism principles, promoting environmental awareness and creating community benefits
- Stimulate economic and local employment opportunities
- Build the destination profile of North Queensland and increase visitation and expenditure in the region.
Developing new ecotourism trails in National Parks are significant undertakings. However, in recognition of the business case findings and recommendations and to further reinforce The Queensland Government’s commitment to investing in ecotourism projects, in July 2022 a further $2 million of state funding was announced to support the next stage of the project. The next stage of the project will focus on:
- Environmental and cultural assessments
- Identifying early works opportunities
- Supporting Traditional Owner tourism business opportunities
- Traditional Owner training and capacity building.
Supporting local jobs
Creating new experiences
Growing the local economy
Frequently asked questions
The Paluma to Wallaman Falls Trail could showcase the region’s stunning natural environment, unique wildlife and fascinating ancient cultural heritage through additional tourism offerings and a collaborative model between Traditional Owners and tourism operators.
This project could offer Traditional Owner led cultural experiences, lookouts, activities such as guided walks, public campsites and could include privately-operated low-impact eco-accommodation.
The Paluma to Wallaman Falls Trail is a proposed 127km walking and mountain biking trail in the Paluma Range National Park and Wallaman Falls region. The next stage of the project will include additional alignment investigations as well as environmental and cultural assessments.
Delivering an iconic ecotourism experience like the Paluma to Wallaman Falls Trail requires extensive planning and engagement, with multiple stakeholders and environmental considerations. Whilst the Strategic Business Case proposes an implementation framework and delivery program, Government then needs to consider options for potential support.
The initial strategic business case delivered by TRC Tourism Pty Ltd has been completed and proposes a 10-year delivery program, however this is only an indicative estimate as the project requires further development and options for further support considered.
The Queensland Government was approached by a collaborative group of local Traditional Owners, a Paluma region tourism operator and Townsville Enterprise Limited with the project proposal and a draft concept plan.
The concept plan was developed through funding provided by the three local councils of Townsville, Hinchinbrook and Charters Towers.
The Queensland Government and the local councils are now collaboratively working with Traditional Owner groups on the next stage of the project.
The Queensland Government and the local councils are collaboratively working with Traditional Owner groups on the Paluma to Wallaman Falls trail project.
The GuGu Badhun and Warrgamay Traditional Owners were heavily engaged in the development of the initial strategic business case and in August 2022 endorsed its findings and recommendations.
The Traditional Owners will continue to be a driving force behind the future development of the Paluma to Wallaman Falls project and the Queensland Government is committed to supporting them throughout the trails delivery. The land of the proposed Trail has a special cultural heritage and could present an opportunity to provide visitors with an immersive cultural experience and share the stories of the Traditional Owners of the land. The Traditional Owners will play an active role in the trail planning, development, maintenance and operation.
The Queensland Ecotourism Trails Program is designed to deliver environmental, social and economic benefits to regional communities, Traditional Owners and to Queensland. Key benefits include:
- Long term job and business opportunities for Traditional Owners and their future generations
- Stronger appreciation and understanding of Aboriginal culture through unique, contemporary and engaging experiences
- New funding sources and reinvestment to contribute to preserving, protecting and presenting national parks and their cultural heritage
- Supporting Traditional Owner businesses, existing local businesses and creating new business opportunities
- Bringing innovative tourism offerings to Queensland that capture new market share with potential for thousands of new overnight stays each year
- Bringing new local jobs to the regions with the opportunity to develop and enhance local skills and increase diversity of regional jobs
- Enhanced monitoring activity of key areas such as protected species, pests and weeds
- Underpinning long-term growth and building community resilience in regional communities.
Engagement of TRC Tourism: Following restrictions on domestic travel and Traditional Owner engagement due to COVID-19, TRC Tourism, an international tourism, recreation and conservation consulting firm, engaged to refine and assess the proposed project scope
Strategic Business Case activities: The COVID-19 disruption to domestic travel and need to protect vulnerable Indigenous communities restricted the project team’s ability to undertake critical foundation activities and Traditional Owner engagement. This had a significant effect on TRC Tourism’s ability to finalise the Strategic Business Case
The Queensland Government has been working with TRC Tourism to implement strategies to allow the progression of critical Strategic Business Case and Traditional Owner engagement activities with a respectful and COVID safe approach across the later of 2021 and beginning of 2022.
Delivery of final Strategic Business Case: consideration of options for Government support
Additional Funding Announced: In July 2022 the Honourable Stirling Hinchliffe MP announced a further $2 million to support the next stage of the Paluma to Wallaman Falls trail from the Tourism Activation Fund.
Consultation: In the later stages of 2022 the Department of Tourism, Innovation and Sport in conjunction with Traditional Owners will conduct briefings with key project stakeholders on the business case findings and recommendations. The briefings will be aimed at developing a pathway forward for the project and identifying opportunities for support.
We are working with Traditional Owners to identify early works opportunities while facilitating the next round of investigative works, including site visits and workshops throughout 2023.
A helicopter LiDAR survey of the proposed trail route has been undertaken which will be used to facilitate further planning and Cultural Heritage investigations.
- Online form
- Phone: 1800 957 852 (Mon–Fri, 9am–5pm AEST)
Department of Tourism, Innovation and Sport,
PO Box 15168, City East, QLD, 4002
Last updated: 30 Jul 2023