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Paluma to Wallaman Falls Trail

Project overview

The Townsville region welcomed a record 1.4 million domestic overnight visitors in the year ending March 2019, a 31.9% increase compared to the same period a year ago. 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 proposed 125km walking and mountain biking trail in the Paluma Range National Park and Wallaman Falls region. The land on which the proposed Trail stretches has a unique cultural heritage and spectacular natural attractions such as Wallaman Falls, Australia’s tallest single drop waterfall. The Trail will be co-designed with the Traditional Owners to ensure it is developed as a genuine cultural product.

A $450,000 injection of Commonwealth–State funding allows for engagement with Traditional Owners, development of a Strategic Business Case and refinement of the proposed trail alignment. The Strategic Business Case will be developed with the support of a Project Working Group with representatives from:

  • the Department of Tourism, Innovation and Sport (Chair)
  • representatives of the three Traditional Owner groups — Gugu Badhun, Nywaigi, Warrgamay
  • North Queensland Regional Organisation of Councils (Secretariat)
  • representative of the local councils — Townsville, Charters Towers and Hinchinbrook
  • the Department of Environment and Science
  • the Department of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Partnerships
  • the Department of State Development, Infrastructure, Local Government, and Planning
  • Townsville Enterprise Limited.

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. The Paluma to Wallaman Falls would be 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.

To explore Wallaman Falls in Girringun National Park, visit the Department of Environment and Science.

Objectives for 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.

Benefits

  • Supporting local jobs

  • Creating new experiences

  • Growing the local economy

Frequently asked questions

  • The Paluma to Wallaman Falls Trail presents an excellent opportunity to showcase the region’s stunning natural environment, unique wildlife and fascinating ancient cultural heritage through additional tourism offerings and collaborative model between Traditional Owners and tourism operators.

    Queensland Ecotourism Trails aim to create genuine ecotourism experiences will attract domestic and international visitors that want to responsibly experience one-of-a-kind scenery through multi-day hiking or mountain biking. The projects may 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 125km walking and mountain biking trail in the Paluma Range National Park and Wallaman Falls region. The Strategic Business Case stage of the project will allow for refinement of the trail alignment and the assessment of other tourism products.

  • The Trail may feature public campsites and privately-operated eco-accommodation. All facilities along the Trail, inside the National Park, must be delivered in accordance with the Department of Environment and Science’s Ecotourism Facilities on National Parks — Implementation Framework and Best Practice Ecotourism Development Guidelines.

  • 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 activities will determine an implementation framework and delivery program, typically these projects can take anywhere from six months to two years for construction to commence depending on the approvals and agreements required.

    The COVID-19 disruption to domestic travel and need to protect vulnerable Indigenous communities restricted the project team’s ability to undertake these critical foundation activities until late 2020.

    In December 2020, TRC Tourism was engaged to prepare the Business Case which will include conducting detailed fieldwork and technical investigations into the feasibility of the proposed trail alignment, tourism product and alignment with broader local strategic planning initiatives and nearby infrastructure. A recommendation to Government on next steps is due by the end of 2021.

  • 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 all three Traditional Owner groups – Gugu Badhun People, Nywaigi People and Warragamay People – on the strategic business case and cultural heritage.

  • The Queensland Government and the local councils are collaboratively working all three Traditional Owner groups – Gugu Badhun People, Nywaigi People and Warragamay People – on the Strategic Business Case and cultural heritage.

    Government will also work with the Traditional Owners to assist them to identify their aspirations for the area and to identify possible business and employment opportunities that could arise from the Trail.
    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.

Timeline

December 2019

Project announcement


December 2020

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


2021

Strategic business case activities: led by TRC Tourism with the support of the Project Working Group, after which an assessment of next steps will be made.


Late 2021

Recommendation to Government: a recommendation will be made to Government on the next steps for the proposed project

Should the Trail proceed to market for an operator, the process will typically follow the following four key stages:

  • Stage 1 — Registration of Interest: Tourism operators and prospective project partners who wish to be considered in the process for an ecotourism trail opportunity can submit their interest
  • Stage 2 — Expressions of Interest: Suitably qualified registrants will be invited to engage with Traditional Owners and refine their proposals
  • Stage 3 — Request for Detailed Proposals: Shortlisted bidders will be invited to further develop their concept and proposal, including confirmed commercial arrangements with Traditional Owners
  • Stage 4 — Preferred Proponent Selection: The successful proponent will be selected and binding terms negotiated, with construction commencing after all approvals including agreements with Traditional Owners are in place

Contact us

There are a number of ways to get involved and stay up-to-date:

  • Online form
  • Phone: 1800 957 852 (Mon–Fri, 9am–5pm AEST)
  • Mail:
    Department of Tourism, Innovation and Sport,
    PO Box 15168, City East, QLD, 4002

Last updated: 18 Jun 2021