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The Greater Blue Mountains celebrates a decade of World Heritage

November 2010 marks the 10th Anniversary of the inscription of the Greater Blue Mountains on the UNESCO World Heritage List.

Hanging Rock in the Blue Mountains NSWTens of thousands of years of caring for the country by Aboriginal communities; the efforts of bushwalkers to save the Blue Gum Forest in the 1930’s; Myles Dunphy’s vision for a Greater Blue Mountains Park; contemporary campaigns of the Colong Foundation and other conservation groups, all lead to the inscription of the Greater Blue Mountains on the World Heritage list in November 2000 for its outstanding universal natural values.

The natural assets of this National Landscape are the core of what attracts visitors to the region, with the tourism industry working in harmony with major stakeholders including NSW National Parks & Wildlife Service, Indigenous groups, conservation groups and the wider residential community to achieve sustainable outcomes.

The area represents an extraordinary story of natural antiquity, diversity, beauty and human attachment. This vast and beautiful area of upland reserves exemplifies the links between wild places and human aspirations,’ said Joan Domicelj, Chair of the Advisory Committee for the Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area.

In celebration of the anniversary, the World Heritage Exhibition Centre is now permanently open at Mount Tomah Botanic Gardens.

Booderee: World class conservation of Cultural Heritage

Australia’s own Booderee National Park on the South Coast NSW took out a global responsible tourism award in London on 10 November 2010.

Booderee won the ‘best conservation of cultural heritage’ category at the Virgin Holidays Responsible Tourism Awards 2010, competing against tourism organisations from across the world.

Environment Minister Tony Burke congratulated the park on this tremendous achievement.

Spectacular Views Booderee National ParkBooderee National Park is a 6,000 hectare living cultural centre on the stunning south coast of New South Wales.

“The park is world-renowned for its diving, exceptionally clear water and diverse marine life but its most important asset is the way the park shares Koori culture with visitors.

“Booderee offers Aboriginal-led walks looking at traditional use of local plants such as bush tucker and medicines, and school holiday activities that help people see the park’s beautiful beaches and bushland through Koori eyes.

“This award celebrates the park’s ability to deliver a distinctively South Coast Indigenous experience, as well as offering excellent camping, bushwalking, bird watching, swimming, surfing and fishing.

South Coast Aboriginal Heritage Tourism“Booderee contains the only Aboriginal-owned botanic gardens in Australia and perhaps even the world. On a trip to Booderee Botanic Gardens, visitors can explore hundreds of native plants from the local area and find out about their significance to Koori people.

“It is not only the park that benefits from an award like this. This is a chance for all Australians to tell the world what a great country we have, with so many beautiful places like Booderee for people to visit.

“Responsible tourism is the future of the industry and Booderee National Park is a superb example, combining beautiful scenery, fascinating cultural history and a range of great holiday activities.”

Booderee is proof that a partnership between government and a marginalised community can work to protect cultural heritage through long-term conservation goals. The Park’s Botanic Gardens is the only Aboriginal-owned botanic garden in existence.

The judges of the global responsible tourism award recognised the partnership for preserving the privacy of the Wreck Bay Aboriginal Community within the sanctuary zone, and using tourism to the National Park for securing their livelihoods.

With 430,000 visitors a year bringing in 1.2 million Australian Dollars and with 80% of the workers Indigenous and living within the park, the future plan for the community to take over sole management of the park alone is very real.”

Old Great North Road: World Heritage

The Old Great North Road is a nationally significant example of major public infrastructure developed using convict labour. Situated in its unaltered natural bushland setting, the Old Great North Road is the best surviving example of an intact convict-built road with massive structural works, which remains undisturbed by later development.

Convict RelicIt demonstrates the isolated and harsh conditions in which the convict road building gangs lived and laboured for months at a time. The Old Great North Raod is listed as part of the Australian Convict Site on the World Heritage List.

The Great North Road, surveyed in 1825 and completed in 1836, was constructed using convict labour. Up to 720 convicts – some in chains – worked on the road, which spanned 264 km, connecting Sydney to the settlements of the Hunter Valley.

It features spectacular and beautifully preserved examples of stonework, including buttresses, culverts, bridges and twelve metre high retaining walls.

Unfortunately the road was not popular. It was isolated, had no permanent watercourses, and bypassed existing settlements. By 1836, as the few remaining convict gangs were completing the last northern sections of the road, it had been almost entirely abandoned as a route to the Hunter Valley. Coastal steamers became the preferred mode of travel and transportation.

The Great North RoadOnly 43 km of the road remains undeveloped and relatively intact. Running through and alongside Dharug National Park and Yengo National Park, this section has been named the Old Great North Road. It goes from Wisemans Ferry in the south to Mount Manning (near Bucketty) in the north, and includes the oldest surviving stone bridges in mainland Australia. The road is closed to motor vehicles, but makes a great walk over two or three days – or an exhilarating day’s cycle.

Relics such as stone retaining walls, wharves, culverts, bridges and buttresses can still be seen along the entire length of the Great North Road – in Sydney suburbs like Epping and Gladesville, at Wisemans Ferry or Wollombi, Bucketty or Broke, or when walking in Dharug and Yengo National Parks.

Although the road is closed to vehicles, it can be walked or cycled.

If you have a few hours up your sleeve, you can follow the original ascent of the Old Great North Road from Wisemans Ferry up Finchs Line. You can combine this with a walk up Devines Hill to complete a loop track of about 9 km, (including a 2 km walk along Wisemans Ferry Road). The track offers spectacular views over the Hawkesbury River, and allows you to compare the construction work on both ascents.

This walk really gives you a feel of the blood, sweat and tears that convict road gangs endured in constructing the road. Although some of these convicts were shackled in leg irons, escape was easy for many. The fact that the road was completed – and in only eight years – shows that these men were skilled, diligent and interested enough to stay on the job.

Full range of walking and cycling tracks

http://www.convicttrail.org

Heritage walks around Sydney

Having arrived in Australia it’s time to stretch your legs. There are plenty of city walking tours on offer, and lots of opportunities to explore magnificent walking tracks free of crowds.

The Rocks Sydney NSW

In Sydney, start off by exploring the historic Rocks area of the city with Rocks Walking Tours.

The Rocks is considered to be the birthplace of European Australia. It’s packed with heritage buildings, boutiques, restaurants, and traditional pubs and tales of old-time convicts, pickpockets, and press-ganged sailors.

Unusual tours of the area include searching for ghosts, and exploring some of the city’s most atmospheric pubs on The Rocks Pub Tour.

One can also pick up some of the 12 self-guided historical walking tour brochures produced by the City of Sydney. Each brochure introduces you to a different area of the city and different aspects of Sydney’s fascinating history.

These self-guided historical walking tour brochures have been developed by the City of Sydney History Program to introduce you to different aspects of Sydney’s fascinating history.

Each brochure features a clear map of the walk with numbered points of interest, detours and museum stops suggested along the way. Each tour takes approximately 1 to 2 hours. More Details

Visitors to Sydney are usually amazed at all the greenery surrounding the famous harbour. In other parts of the world this ‘prime real estate’ would have been developed long ago, but here most of it is protected by the Sydney Harbour National Park.

There are several self-guided walks through the park. One of these is the 1.4km (0.9 mile) South Head Heritage Trail, known for its sandstone cliffs, historic fortifications, and sweeping views. You’ll see different angles of the harbour from a variety of lookouts on this track, which starts from Camp Cove in Watsons Bay.

Another lesser-known track is the 5km (3 mile) Bradleys Head and Chowder Head Walk. This starts near the Taronga Zoo ferry wharf and follows the shoreline through eucalypt forests. As well as spectacular views of the Sydney Opera House, you can see some of the historic cannons that once defended Sydney.

The 17km (10.5 mile) Manly Scenic Walkway offers more panoramic lookouts across Sydney Harbour. The trail takes in beaches, Aboriginal sites, community parks, forests, scrubland and even pockets of subtropical rainforest.

Among Sydney’s most challenging scenic tracks is the Coast Walk. The 26km (16 mile) walking trail spans the entire east coast of the Royal National Park from Bundeena to Otford. Experienced walkers can do it in one day, but it’s best completed in two. You will need camping equipment and plenty of water.

The walk leaves from Bundeena in Sydney’s south and takes in deserted beaches, coastal heathland, pockets of rainforest, and dramatic cliff tops. You can often spot whales during their annual migration. You can get to Bundeena from the surf-side suburb of Cronulla onboard the little M.V. Curranulla ferry. In 2009 this boat celebrated 70 years on the Cronulla to Bundeena ferry run. She remains the oldest commuter ferry in Australia working a regular timetable.

On Sydney’s western fringe you will find the Blue Mountains, a World Heritage-listed site containing plenty of marked walking trails ranging from easy strolls through dripping rainforest and around dramatic canyon rims, to adventurous hikes through the wilderness.

National Parks: Promotes and Protects

New South Wales’ national parks and regional tourism will both benefit from the passing of the National Parks & Wildlife Amendment (Visitors and Tourists) Bill 2010 through the NSW Parliament in early June 2010, according to peak industry body, Tourism & Transport Forum (TTF).

TTF Executive Director Brett Gale said the legislation further enhances protections for the natural estate.

“This is a sensible move which will help to increase visitation to national parks,” Mr Gale said, “while at the same time protecting them from inappropriate development.”

“It will clarify the types of visitor facilities that are allowed in national parks and further strengthen the restrictions on what tourism activities are acceptable.

“Far from threatening the natural estate, it further enshrines in law vital conservation requirements.

“Only structures of an appropriate type and scale which ‘tread lightly’ are permissible, while a share of profits from any commercial partner will be reinvested in park infrastructure and management.

“Preserving the natural amenity of national parks is crucial to maintaining their desirability to visitors which puts conservation at the forefront of the tourism industry’s considerations.

“The ethos is intrinsically one of conservation and environmental awareness, underwritten by the reality that the natural assets are the primary attraction.

“The tourism industry welcomes the passing of this bill and looks forward to helping the NSW Government achieve its aim of a 20 per cent increase in visitation to national parks by 2016.”

Walkabout in New South Wales

There is so much to do in New South Wales, but a week will surely persuade you to come back for more.

Day One

After breakfast head down to Circular Quay to see two Sydney icons at once the Sydney Harbour Bridge and the white-sailed Sydney Opera House.

Next, stroll across to The Rocks area to see where European Sydney started out. The compact waterside area is criss-crossed with alleyways and crammed with terraced houses, old pubs, and former maritime storehouses. Make the most of the experience by going on a guided walk with an operator such as The Rocks Walking Tours. 

Nearby are some steps that take you up to the walkway that spans the Sydney Harbour Bridge. You can walk right across the bridge and take a local commuter train back to the city centre.

Or, you could actually climb the Harbour Bridge with BridgeClimb. It’s a truly memorable experience, and the views from the top of the arch are magnificent.

Afterwards, head back to Circular Quay and take a boat trip on Sydney’s glorious harbour. There are lots of tour boats to choose from. One that gives an Aboriginal perspective on things is the Tribal Warrior Aboriginal Culture Cruise. If you are the adventurous sort you could even take zip around the Harbour at break-neck speed on a jet boat.

From here you could walk past the Opera House and into the Royal Botanic Gardens. You might then want to pop into the Art Gallery of New South Wales, before heading towards the city again.

Ahead of you is Sydney Tower, the tallest building in Sydney. The tower offers stunning 360-degree views across the city, and beyond to The Blue Mountains. Daredevils can walk around the outside of the tower on a Skywalk.

Day 2
Spend the morning in Darling Harbour, Sydney’s main entertainment precinct. There are plenty of bars and restaurants around here with outdoor seating, and lots of major attractions.

A must is to clamber over real ships and a submarine at the Australian National Maritime Museum, and discover our love of maritime and the ocean.

Day 3
Today it’s time to head to the hills.

The World Heritage-listed Blue Mountains are less than two hours from Sydney. You can get there by train and join a tour, take a tour from Sydney, or wander around alone.

On the way, you could stop off to see the kangaroos and other creatures at Featherdale Wildlife Park.

In the Blue Mountains you can ride the world’s steepest incline railway and enjoy spectacular rainforest views from a cable car at Scenic World.

There are lots of incredible bushwalks, majestic waterfalls, and the sandstone escarpments and canyons are awesome. Stay the night if you wish to extend your trip, and immerse yourself in the amazing scenery again the next day.

Day 4
Travel back to Sydney and head north to the Hunter Valley wine country.

Most of the area’s 120 wineries offer tastings at the cellar door. There are plenty of great restaurants, romantic retreats, quality eateries, galleries, and producers selling handmade cheese and olive oil.

You can roam around the beautiful farming countryside on hired bicycles, in a horse and carriage, or even in a hot air balloon.

Day 5
From the Hunter Valley make your way to Port Stephens. The pristine waters of the harbour here are home to two large pods of bottlenose dolphins. You are almost guaranteed to see them on a dolphin-watch cruise. This is a perfect place to spot whales during their annual migration too.

If you want to see koalas in the wild then Port Stephen’s Tilligerry Habitat State Reserve offers a good opportunity.

Day 6
Drive south from Sydney via the Royal National Park on the new Grand Pacific Drive. A focal point of the trip is the dramatic 665-metre (2,181-foot) Sea Cliff Bridge. 

From here, the unspoilt natural beauty of the southern coastline of New South Wales unfolds in a series of bays, harbours, beaches and small townships.

You could stop off at Jervis Bay and the Aboriginal-managed Booderee National Park.
The park is known for its kangaroos and other wildlife, fascinating bushwalks, sparkling green water, and pristine beaches.

One of these is Hyams Beach, which has some of the world’s whitest and noisiest sands – it makes a loud squeaking sound when you walk on it.

You can go on a dolphin spotting cruise here, or take an adventurous dive among underwater arches, caves and rock stacks.

At Huskisson, camp among the kangaroos overnight, or stay at Woollomia Village Retreat, an Australian Historical replica village.

Day 7
Kangaroo Valley Views NSWYou might want to keep heading south along the coastal route all the way to Melbourne or beyond – or you can slowly head back to Sydney.

This time head inland via Kangaroo Valley, and call into the Southern Highlands, then return to Sydney.

This gorgeous rural area offers quaint towns, historic pubs and hotels, orchards and wineries, antiques, Devonshire teas, and a gentrified way of existence.

Kimberley Tourism

The Minister for Tourism, Martin Ferguson AM MP and the Minister for Environment Protection, Peter Garrett AM MP, today (13 April 2010) announced the Kimberley region will be included in Tourism Australia’s National Landscapes Program and will feature prominently within Australia’s future international tourism marketing.

Broome WAThe Kimberley is Western Australia’s first region in the National Landscapes Program which highlights iconic destinations across Australia.

Landscapes are nominated by local communities, in this case the Kimberley National Landscapes Steering Committee.

With the support of Tourism Australia and Parks Australia, the Steering Committee will now bring together tourism industry and government stakeholders to identify commercial opportunities, environmental management priorities, infrastructure gaps and marketing plans.

Broome Camel Rides WANearly two thirds of international visitors identify an Australian nature experience as a highlight of their visit.

The National Landscapes Program aims to promote Australian landscapes which will be major drawcards for international visitors because of their natural and cultural values.

It also aims to help regional tourism operators develop quality tourism products and services that capitalise on these values, celebrating the environmental significance and importance of the unique landscapes that are part of the program.

Broome Sunset WAMinister Ferguson said: “The Kimberley’s rich Indigenous history and culture, pearling and mining history, ancient gorges, spectacular waterfalls, rugged wilderness and remote beaches make it an obvious choice for the National Landscapes Program.

“It is a vast wilderness area more than twice the size of my home State, Victoria.

“The National Landscapes Program offers great opportunities for Indigenous training, employment and business development in both tourism and conservation.

“Tourism is a major source of employment across the Kimberley with more than 1500 tourism organisations providing jobs for rangers, pilots, cruise ship crews, chefs and many other trades and professions.

Minister Garrett said: “The Kimberley is a stunning part of Australia, internationally renowned for its vibrant Indigenous culture and unique environment and of course, the world famous Cable Beach.

The Kimberley Tanami Track WA“The inclusion of the Kimberley in the National Landscapes Program recognises the extraordinary environmental importance of the Kimberley, from the beauty and incredible diversity of the marine environment to the ecological diversity of this huge north-western landscape.

“The Kimberley region now joins destinations such as Australia’s Red Centre, Kakadu and the Australian Alps as part of a program which sees tourism and conservation working in partnership to promote some of the extraordinary natural landscapes that make our country both so unique and such an international tourism drawcard.”

The Kimberley Western AustraliaThe Ministers made the announcement on a visit to Broome before travelling to Kununurra for the first Kimberley Land Council Ranger Forum, celebrating the important role Indigenous Rangers play in the management and environmental protection of the region.

Through the Government’s Working on Country Program, supported by the Kimberley Land Council, 65 Indigenous Ranger positions at eight communities across the Kimberley, including the Miriuwung Gajerrong Rangers in Kununurra, have been supported, creating employment opportunities for Indigenous people working on country and protecting the unique natural values of the region.

The Kimberley Fitzroy CrossingThe Ministers congratulated Parks Australia, Tourism Australia, the Kimberley National Landscapes Steering Committee (chaired by Marilynne Paspaley AM), tourism operators and conservation groups for all the hard work they have put in to get the Kimberley ready for inclusion in the Program.

Tourism is a $40 billion industry employing nearly 500,000 Australians and contributing nearly 4 per cent to annual GDP. In Western Australia, tourism directly employs more than 45,000 people and contributes $3 billion to the Western Australian economy each year.

Photos Credit: Tourism Australia

Bureaucracy and Tourism Like Chalk And Cheese

A contributory article by Joanna Gash MP (Mrs)
Shadow Parliamentary Secretary for Tourism

One of the basic rules about retailing is not to impose obstacles to customers to spend their cash.

Obviously a prudent and sensible rule but one, it seems, that has not dawned on government bureaucracy.

In the area of tourism, it is the government’s role to introduce strategies to grow the industry.

Government is a stake holder in tourism, not only supplying the infrastructure but also as a custodian of natural resources upon which a lot of domestic tourism relies.

Take Kakadu Park as an example or Uluru or the Great Barrier Reef. Natural wonders – come and have a look.

Of course some wear and tear can be expected so it is fair enough to defray some of the operational costs. But it needs to be done in such a way as not to be a put off to the customer.

I was perturbed to read recently in an article by Ross Bennett on the website, http://www.onlineopinion.com.au that the NSW Government, or more specifically, the National Parks and Wildlife Service can charge people for taking photographs within a reserve or nature park.

It seems that under a very broad definition, photographers can be fined $3,300 for taking a snap. Although they talk about a ‘commercial photograph’, no one has bothered to define exactly what that means.

Can you imagine what sort of publicity that would generate and what sort of signal that would send to overseas or interstate tourists.

And there are similar policies in other jurisdictions which leads me to believe that perhaps with policies like these who needs a global financial down turn when you have a short sighted government?

The whole idea of taking photos is to capture special moments during your holiday.

I know when I see a parking ticket being issued to a car with out of state plates, I think of the sour taste that visitor will have when he tells his friends about his ‘special’ visit.

Talk about poor advertising and word of mouth constitutes a powerful communication medium.

In the 70’s, the Gold Coast Council had bikini-ed meter maids put coins into meters where visitors had outstayed their permit.

That is positive marketing, acknowledging the fact that you have to spend a buck to make a buck.

Not so some of our bureaucracies whose obsession with regulation and control can sometimes be a turn off.

Fining a visitor for some petty infringement is a liability not an asset. It shows that any sense of entrepreneurship, which is needed in tourism, is absent.

The key to successful tourism is the same as successful marketing; make them want more. To my mind, applying a $3,300 fine or even a small portion of the fine, represents a false economy.

Tourism has been in decline for the last ten years and in NSW, the State Labor Government actually cut the tourism budget before it dawned on them to have a look at the real world.

Ask yourself this; would you ever go back to a shop that charged you an entry fee?

No matter how you describe it, any levy, tax, fine, charge, toll or fee, without something to show for it, is not an inducement to try more.

Especially when it is done by an over bearing and zealous government agency. There are other, less intrusive ways of making a dollar and if the government wants to play in the business world, it should adopt the behaviour of the merchant. 

A note on hospitality for the government – Don’t put potential customers off before they even get there. I’m sure if they encouraged business, and business made money, they would get their share through increased tax revenues.

It’s called ‘profit sharing – Hello!  But you have to make the profit first before you can share it and that should be left to business.

Published: 8 April 2010