The Wangetti Trail will be Queensland’s first purpose built walking and mountain biking track in a national park and one of Australia’s leading adventure based ecotourism experiences, attracting visitors on an international scale.
The Queensland Government is delivering the $47.1 million Wangetti Trail in Tropical North Queensland. The 94km walking and mountain biking trail will stretch from Palm Cove to Port Douglas and will showcase the stunning coastal and hinterland scenery of the World Heritage-listed Wet Tropics and the Great Barrier Reef. To deliver the project $39.1 million of State funds have been allocated to the construction of the trail complemented by the Australian Government’s investment of $8 million into the project from the National Tourism Icons Program.
The Department of Tourism, Innovation and Sport acknowledges the traditional custodians of the lands and waters of Queensland and offers its respect to Elders past, present and emerging as we work towards a just, equitable and reconciled Australia.
The project has been made possible by funding from the Australian Government and Queensland Government.
The Wangetti Trail will showcase Tropical North Queensland's stunning coastal and hinterland scenery from Palm Cove to Port Douglas - once operational it's expected to create over 150 jobs, attract thousands of new visitors and inject up to $300 million into the local economy. The trail will enhance conservation and protection while delivering environmental, social and economic benefits to Tropical North and Queensland.
Approximately 94km in length, domestic and international visitors will enjoy the walking and mountain biking track that is proposed to feature four sites offering eco-accommodation and public camping, and an additional site with public camping only to offer visitors a one-of-a-kind experience of the region’s Aboriginal cultural history and stunning coastal and hinterland scenery of the World Heritage-listed Wet Tropics and Great Barrier Reef.
All facilities along the trail must be delivered in accordance with the Department of Environment and Science’s Implementation Framework: Ecotourism Facilities on National Parks (PDF, 1.3MB) and Best Practice Ecotourism Development Guidelines (PDF, 753KB).
Create new ecotourism experiences
Generate economic and social benefits
Better protection and maintenance of our National Parks
The Wangetti Trail benefits factsheet (PDF, 656.3KB) outlines the economic, social and environmental benefits the project aims to deliver.
Further benefits include
- New funding and re-investment sources to preserve, protect and present national parks and their cultural heritage
- 150 new local jobs created once operational as well as opportunities to develop local skills and increase the diversity of regional jobs
- Estimated to attract thousands of new visitors and inject up to $300 million into the local economy
- Long term job and business opportunities for Traditional Owners and their future generations
- Better controls to limit damaging and uncontrolled activities within parks including feral animal management
- New opportunities for cultural tourism experiences to create stronger appreciation and understanding of Aboriginal culture
- Supporting Traditional Owner businesses, existing local businesses and new business opportunities
- Underpinning long-term growth and liveability in the Tropical North and building regional community resilience
View the detailed proposed alignment map - December 2022 (PDF, 1.1MB) for the 94km Wangetti Trail.
Upon completion, the Wangetti Trail is expected to be ‘Grade 3’ (medium difficulty) for walkers and ‘More Difficult’ for mountain bikers, providing an accessible but challenging offering for visitors. The Queensland Government is seeking approvals for the whole Wangetti Trail to be a walking and mountain biking trail from Palm Cove to Port Douglas, including the possibility of utilising existing trail links to help determine how the trail will be used.
These alignment options have been developed to minimise new clearing within the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area and avoid sensitive environmental and cultural areas identified by ecologists and Traditional Owners.
Access points for emergency services, rangers and park operators are proposed to utilise existing tracks and trails near the Wangetti Trail alignment and may change over time subject to environmental assessment and approvals.
Design and construction of the Wangetti Trail
Delivery of the Wangetti Trail has been split into a number of works packages which suit the specialist skills of targeted builders and contractors accordingly. The Trail will be delivered in three sections:
- Wangetti South: 33km walking and mountain biking trail from Palm Cove to Wangetti
- Wangetti North: 54km walking and mountain biking trail from Wangetti to Mowbray River
- Mowbray North: 7km walking and mountain biking trail from Mowbray River to Port Douglas
A design and construct (D&C) tender for ‘Wangetti South’ the first stage of trail construction works has been awarded to Wagners CFT Manufacturing Pty Ltd and a team of subcontracted trail designers and builders to deliver the first 33km section of the shared use trail from Palm Cove to Wangetti including a public camping area and link to Ellis Beach.
Detailed survey and design works are underway with construction commencement subject to conditions of the environmental approvals to protect and preserve the environment and cultural heritage the State is currently securing.
Following the D&C tender of the first stage of the trail, from Palm Cove to Wangetti, tenders for the remaining sections of the trail will be released in due course. This information will be available on our website and tenders will be released via the Queensland Government’s QTender website.
Wangetti Trail South
Wangetti Trail South is a proposed walking and mountain biking trail approximately 33 kilometres in length stretching from Palm Cove to Wangetti. Located within the Macalister Range National Park and the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area, this section will feature a public camping site and a beach link to Ellis Beach. This section of the trail will provide employment and traineeships for locals and Traditional Owners including cultural monitoring onsite to protect items of cultural significance found during construction, and will deliver further benefits once operational.
Wangetti South Assessment under the Australian Government EPBC Act
The Queensland Government has referred preliminary documentation for Wangetti Trail South – Wangetti to Palm Cove (EPBC 2020/8722) to the Australian Government for assessment under the Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999. The documentation focuses on the management plans and strategies that will be upheld throughout construction of this section of the trail, including Assessment of Risk to Specific Matters of National Environmental Significance.
A public notification period inviting comments on the preliminary documentation was held from Monday 30 August to Friday 10 September 2021.
On 1 October 2021, DTIS provided the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment (DAWE) with a report on public comments that were received in relation to proposed development. A summary of comments received and the response from DTIS including references to existing preliminary management plans developed that outline the mitigation measures to be implemented during the construction and operational phases of the project to prevent, reduce or control adverse environmental effects on Matters of National Environmental Significance and the surrounding environment.
The final preliminary documentation and a report on the public comments received during the public notification was made available online for information for a period of 10 business days, until 26 October 2021. On Friday 3 June 2022, DAWE approved the Wangetti Trail – Wangetti South preliminary documentation as a controlled action.
The Queensland Government has held multiple rounds of community consultation on the Wangetti Trail project including a first round from 8 April to 31 May 2019, and following months of intensive fieldwork, planning and investigations a second round from 3 August to 11 September 2020 when members of the community were again invited to submit their ideas and comments on the trail.
Feedback received from both rounds of consultation is helping to inform project concepts and planning as it progresses into the next stages.
Frequently asked questions – Wangetti South
The Wangetti South 33 kilometre section of trail from Palm Cove to Wangetti will include a public campsite. Some facilities on offer at the public campsite will be raised camping platforms, a communal shelter, toilets and bike racks – plus the option to secure bikes to the camping platforms.
All facilities will use best practice systems and services in all aspects of design and operation such as environmentally friendly innovations like water use optimisation such as micro flush toilets.
The trail must be delivered in accordance with the Wet Tropics Management Plan, requirements under the Nature Conservation Act (1992) and other environmental approval conditions.
The Queensland Government has also prepared a construction methodology manual that will guide the trail builder on the preferred infrastructure, methods and materials for building the trail within protected areas. Additional plans such as an Erosion and Sedimentation Control Plan and a Weeds, Pest and Disease Management Plan will also guide the construction and ongoing operation of the Trail.
A number of arrangements will be in place to minimise disruption to local wildlife along the Wangetti Trail, such as:
- Alignment of the trail is designed to avoid significant species
- Minimal habitat disturbance, including the avoidance of identified breeding, roosting and foraging sites
- Trail design parameters to minimise potential interactions with cassowaries and other fauna
- No open water sources or food accessible on the trail or at the campsite
- Trail use is to be during daylight hours
- No generators or loud music will be permitted at the campsite
- Signage providing information on how visitors can minimise their impacts will be provided at the trail heads/entrances and campsite.
The Government is continuing to conduct environmental investigations to determine the best method for ensuring water security and availability along the trail. These investigations will include plans for toilets, water storage and ensuring that waterways throughout the national park are protected.
The protection of the natural and cultural values of the unique landscape the Wanegtti Trail will traverse is paramount. As per most national parks, the Wangetti Trail will have a carry-in, carry-out requirement for all rubbish, and visitors will be encouraged to ‘leave no trace’ when travelling along the trail. You can read more about how you can leave no trace and minimise your impacts when visiting parks and forests by visiting https://parks.des.qld.gov.au/things-to-do/articles/minimise-your-impacts-when-visiting-parks
In regard to toilet waste, environmental investigations are underway to determine the most appropriate treatment for toilet waste. The Government will utilise best practice systems and services in all aspects of design and operation such as environmentally friendly innovations
The Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service has fire management strategies in place for the Macalister Range National Park and will further develop actions in the fire strategy to accommodate for the proposed infrastructure and use of the trail and campsite.
Frequently asked questions – Wangetti Trail
Delivering an iconic ecotourism experience like the Wangetti Trail requires extensive planning and engagement, with multiple stakeholders and environmental considerations.
The first stage of the project, Mowbray River works and the construction of the new Mowbray River Pedestrian Bridge is now complete, and will be accessible in the near future
The main Wangetti Trail will be delivered in three sections:
Wangetti South: 33km walking and mountain biking trail from Palm Cove to Wangetti
Wangetti North: 54km walking and mountain biking trail from Wangetti to Mowbray River
Mowbray North: 7km walking and mountain biking trail from Mowbray River to Port Douglas
Subject to approvals, the Wangetti Trail is targeted to be progressively opened from 2023 with eco-accommodation operational from 2024.
The Queensland Government is seeking approvals for the whole Wangetti Trail to be a walking and mountain biking trail from Palm Cove to Port Douglas.
The Ecotourism Trails program uses a collaborative model with Governments, Traditional Owners, local communities and the private sector, to create genuine ecotourism experiences, unlock new income streams for the preservation and management of parks and create long-term economic opportunities for Traditional Owners on country.
The Queensland Government has been engaging with the Traditional Owners in relation to the Wangetti Trail since July 2018. Cultural Heritage Management Agreements for the Wangetti Trail outline how to manage project activities to avoid harm to Indigenous cultural heritage including artefacts or places of significance.
The Project Team continue to work with the Traditional Owners of the area to identify their aspirations for the project and build their capacity and capabilities to become job and business ready for new opportunities. On 29 July 2020, the then Department of Natural Resource, Mines and Energy officially handed back Wangetti land to the Wangetti Aboriginal Land Trust which was a significant milestone in the journey of the Traditional Owners. The Traditional Owners intend to use this land to develop long-term job, land and business opportunities as part of the Wangetti Trail project.
No. Queensland Ecotourism Trails are designed, to the greatest possible extent, to be ecologically sustainable and aimed at preserving and protecting community resources, and their natural and cultural values for future generations.
The Wangetti Trail will extend through the World Heritage listed Wet Tropics area, in which visitor safety and environmental protection of sensitive ecosystems are top priorities, so the proposed Wangetti Trail is designed for walkers and mountain bike riders only.
Yes. The Government continues to engage with the Wet Tropics Management Authority, Australian Government Department of Environment and Energy and Cairns Regional and Douglas Shire Councils to secure development approvals for the delivery and operation of the Wangetti Trail.
New alignment options have been developed to minimise new clearing within the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area and avoid sensitive environmental and cultural areas identified by ecologists and Traditional Owners.
The alignment of the trail has been extensively surveyed by ecologists, environmental planners and engineers and other technical experts.
The Queensland Government is in the process of securing a number of significant environmental approvals for the delivery of the Wangetti Trail. This includes working with local authorities, Local, Federal and State Government to secure approximately 19 approvals required for the Wangetti Trail to move forward with construction.
All appropriate approvals will be secured prior to construction works commencing on the trail, and a detailed design process will assist in informing some of these approvals.
The State began the market process with a Registration of Interest (ROI) stage in mid-2019. The ROI stage alerted proponents to the opportunity to deliver and operate eco-accommodation and tour guidance along the Wangetti Trail. The process was suspended during 2020-2021 due to COVID impacts on the tourism industry. The State intends to recommence the market process in 2023 having undertaken design and construction work for the Wangetti Trail in the interim including a new pedestrian bridge over the Mowbray River.
Phase 1 Feasibility 2018-2020
Feasibility: Queensland Government announced its support of the Wangetti Trail, a proposed dual-use track in Tropical North Queensland stretching along the coastal plains and mountain hinterland between Palm Cove and Port Douglas
Business Case: Department of Innovation and Tourism Industry Development develops a Business Case with a leading local trail design and construction company appointed to design the alignment
Walk through and engineering design: Local trail designers complete walk through of the trail and engineering design of the alignment, working closely with Traditional Owners, specialist consultants and engineers
Mowbray North Announcement: Queensland Government announces $5.7 million investment to complete the seven kilometre ‘Mowbray North’ component (Port Douglas south to the Mowbray River) of the Wangetti Trail
Trail Alignment and Community Engagement: Detailed alignment of Wangetti Trail released for public comment
Registration of Interest: Interested parties were invited to register their interest in delivering eco-accommodation and tour guidance along the Wangetti Trail, demonstrating track record in delivering world-class, ecotourism experiences
Mowbray River bridge tender released. Works include a new pedestrian bridge, pedestrian underpass and viewing platform
Finalisation of trail reference design, ecological surveys and lodgement and public notification of Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 referral application
Community Consultation Round Two: Alignment and further details of the Wangetti Trail released for public comment
Phase 2 Wangetti South 2020-present
Trail construction tender period: Release and award of construction tender(s) for the Wangetti Trail subject to securing development approvals.
Preferred Proponent for Wangetti South announced: Wagners CFT Manufacturing awarded the first of three contracts to design and construct a 33km walking and mountain biking trail from Palm Cove to Wangetti with a public camping area and day-trip trail to Ellis Beach.
Wangetti South underway: Detailed survey and design works commence onsite to inform final environmental and development approvals
Environmental and Development approvals: Requisite Commonwealth, State and Local Government approvals forecast to be secured allowing commencement of construction of the Wangetti South section of trail
Wangetti South construction: Construction of the Wangetti South section of the trail.
Phase 3 Wangetti North / Mowbray North 2023 onwards
Wangetti North tender: Design and Construct tender released for Wangetti North section of trail from Wangetti to Mowbray River
Environmental and Development approvals: Requisite Commonwealth, State and Local Government approvals forecast to be secured for the Wangetti North section of trail
Eco Accommodation Operator Market Process: Nomination of preferred Eco Accommodation Operator
Wangetti North construction: Construction of the Wangetti North section of the trail
Environmental and Development approvals: Resubmission of Local Government approvals for the Mowbray North section of trail
Mowbray North tender: Design and Construct tender released for Mowbray North section of trail from Mowbray River to Port Douglas
Mowbray North construction: Construction of the Mowbray North section of the trail
Phase 4 operational phase
Trail Operational: Trail operational and progressive opening to the public
Eco Accommodation Operational: Eco Accommodation operational and open for business
Last updated: 24 Nov 2022