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Dreaming Track to become a Great Walk
Construction is expected to commence on a giant network of walking tracks from the Daintree to the tip of Cape York next year, subject to on-going talks with traditional owners.
The network of walks was a key commitment made by Queensland Premier Anna Bligh at her campaign launch during the March 2009 election.
Premier Bligh said feasibility work carried out to date on the 'Dreaming Track' had found that a series of walks progressively rolled out along the Cape would be a viable and practical option to deliver new tourism and economic opportunities for both the Far North and Queensland as a whole.
Premier Bligh said that consultation with Traditional Owners was well underway, in partnership with Balkanu Cape York Development Corporation, along the entire length of the proposed track, stating “this dreaming track concept originated from Balkanu and Traditional Owners of eastern Cape York Peninsula, and this year we've been in lengthy discussions with people on the ground to progress the project.
"A network of walks to showcase the best of the Cape across eight initial locations centred around the Daintree, Cooktown, Laura, Lakefield, Coen, Lockhart, Heathlands, and Bamaga is being investigated.
"This will deliver over 2,000 km of walking tracks, in a diverse range of areas from north of Cairns to the tip of Cape York.
"Cape York takes in the rainforests across coastal lowlands and isolated mountain ranges, rich wetlands with mangrove fringed rivers, a vast and rugged coastline, and wide savanna grasslands, scrubs and woodlands.
"Together, this network of walking experiences will rival the world's greatest and most popular walks including Kokoda and Milford Sound.
"Not only will this series of treks compete with the great walks of the world, it'll be a fantastic driving holiday as well."
Queensland Climate Change and Sustainability Minister Kate Jones said the project will deliver jobs for Cape York and will be delivered in partnership and with the consent of Traditional Owners, stating “this project will deliver real economic opportunities for jobs on country both now and in the future.
"There will be significant economic benefits for Indigenous communities right across the Cape, both at the sites of individual walks, as well as the surrounding areas and along the roads in between.
"During the past 12 months, we've undertaken significant work to assess the technical feasibility of the Dreaming Track concept, including legislative and statutory approvals, economic and infrastructure design and mapping of regional environmental values.
"In addition, significant resources and efforts have gone towards working with Traditional Owners across this vast stretch of land, and talks have now been held with fifteen major Indigenous landholding groups representing hundreds of Traditional Owners - all of whom have been supportive of this project and the opportunities it will provide in the Cape."
Premier Bligh said the feasibility work to date has confirmed the enormous potential for Cape York Peninsula to become a world class iconic destination for bushwalkers, adding “the feasibility issues studied were tested against both a single, continuous walking track as well as a network of shorter walking tracks at iconic destinations on Cape York Peninsula.
"These included north of Cape Tribulation, the Cooktown-Hope Vale area and the Coen-MacIlWraith Range area.
"These areas have, in different combinations, the natural features, existing infrastructure, accessibility to markets and local interest to make them iconic.
"We are working to examine how the community and the Government can promote and deliver a truly memorable experience for all who visit the Cape.
"Over the next 12 months we will be working in partnership with Balkanu Cape York Development Corporation and Traditional Owners, to refine the various routes so construction can get underway, as well as negotiating management arrangements with landholders and the Traditional Owners."
Image courtesy of Port Douglas Travel.
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