Eco-trail funding should be redirected

Hinchinbrook MP Nick Dametto at Port Hinchinbrook in Cardwell.

FUNDING budgeted for the State Government’s stalled Thorsborne Trail eco-tourism project should be redirected to other projects in the region, says Hinchinbrook MP Nick Dametto.

Mr Dametto said after nearly two years since expressions of interest were called for to develop an eco-tourism experience on Hinchinbrook Island, it had become obvious “the project would not start in this term”.

“While this is a missed opportunity, there are other projects in Hinchinbrook which could benefit,” he said.

“We have tourism enabling projects like the proposal to deliver all-tidal access to Enterprise Channel at Dungeness as well as maintenance dredging of Cardwell’s One Mile Creek, which is going to need more than the $1.5 million in Federal funding already pledged to be fully realised.

“Fixing some of Port Hinchinbrook’s long-standing problems, which include roads and sewerage treatment, could also help get this development back on its feet.”

Under the original eco-tourism proposal by the State Government, proponents were asked to submit their expressions of interest to establish eco-tourism options on Hinchinbrook Island. This would incorporate an upgrade to the existing track and provide short stay facilities that add to the trails experience, with the opportunity to develop and operate low-impact eco-accommodation and tour guidance on the Thorsborne Trail.

“In the 2019-20 State budget there was $13.9 million allocated over two years to progress two global tourism hubs and three eco-tourism trails including the Thorsborne trail. As far as I’m concerned, it would be prudent to have some of that funding reallocated to these two infrastructure projects,” Mr Dametto said.

“There is still time for the State Government to redirect funding before this term of parliament ends and unlock the economic and tourism benefits that flow on.”

A $6 million proposal by Hinchinbrook Shire Council would provide all-tidal access for Enterprise Channel and build a rock wall to recreate and protect a historic spit from further erosion.

Meanwhile, council is expecting to complete a 140 parking bay expansion at Dungeness boat ramp by December after receiving funding from the State Government’s Works for Queensland program.

10 jobs will be generated during construction.

Nick Dametto MP