MidCoast Council green lights its adventurous Destination Management Plan

Target: MidCoast Council sees dollars in the adventure tourism market that is drawing mountain bike riders to the single track trails near Taree. Photo: Joshua Macpherson.
Target: MidCoast Council sees dollars in the adventure tourism market that is drawing mountain bike riders to the single track trails near Taree. Photo: Joshua Macpherson.

A ‘game changer’ strategy to draw $695 million a year to the Mid Coast economy is in the pipeline. 

It’s a target for 2030, its foundation is adventure and nature-based tourism and MidCoast Council is pinning its tourism economic development hopes on seven ‘Game Changer Projects’. Council adopted the 2017 MidCoast Destination Management Plan (DMP) on December 20 and by doing so, gave its staff the green light to work to deliver the projects that will bring dollars and jobs to our region.

The DMP is promoted as a long term vision and short term action plan and Deb Tuckerman, council’s manager growth, economic development and tourism says “MidCoast is renowned both domestically and internationally as one of Australia’s leading nature and adventure-based tourism regions.” She suggests the full use of the region’s exceptional natural tourism assets will create a tourism mix that is more balanced and sustainable.

The high priority ‘Outdoor and Nature-based Recreation’ project includes investment in enhancing or maintaining mountain biking trails at the Kiwarrak State Forest near Taree, a mountain bike technical track in Forster, and the Cape Hawke Lookout and bicentennial walking trails around Forster. It is proposed to develop new, or acquire high profile equestrian or mountain biking events that target junior, teen and the emerging women’s adventure markets.

Kiwarrak State Forest near Taree attracts mountain bike riders from all over NSW who love the challenge of its single track trails. It is also the location of numerous competitive events.

Kiwarrak State Forest near Taree attracts mountain bike riders from all over NSW who love the challenge of its single track trails. It is also the location of numerous competitive events.

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The ‘Great Lakes Great Walk and Aquatic Trails’ project involves development of an internationally significant Great Walk along a 100km stretch of the coast between Forster and Hawks Nest, incorporating Myall Lakes and Booti Booti National Parks.

The ‘Manning Valley Soil to Sea Produce Precinct’ project involves the restoration of Taree Fisherman’s Co-op on the Manning River, the former dairy factory and development of a cycleway between Taree and Old Bar.

Development of Aboriginal cultural tourism is the goal of the ‘Celebrating Culture on Country’ project. It could see the creation of an Aboriginal health and wellbeing retreat, potentially the first of its kind in Australia, a Dark Point ecolodge or glamping experience linked to the ‘Great Lakes Great Walk’ project, the development of a proposal for the creation of a permanent contemporary Aboriginal art collection at Manning Regional Art Gallery in Taree, and the creation of nature and cultural-based tours. 

The 'Great Lakes Great Walk and Aquatic Trails’ project involves development of an internationally significant Great Walk along a 100km stretch of the coast between Forster and Hawks Nest, incorporating Myall Lakes and Booti Booti National Parks. Photo: Office of Environment Heritage.

The 'Great Lakes Great Walk and Aquatic Trails’ project involves development of an internationally significant Great Walk along a 100km stretch of the coast between Forster and Hawks Nest, incorporating Myall Lakes and Booti Booti National Parks. Photo: Office of Environment Heritage.

The need to enhance the profile of Gloucester and Barrington Tops is the catalyst for the ‘Gloucester Visitor Hub’ project. It’s focused on enhancing services for traditional visitor markets, as well as growing markets, and would provide information and promotion of outdoor recreation, nature and cultural-based experiences as well as take bookings. It is proposed the hub be developed in collaboration with the National Parks and Wildlife Service, Forestry Corporation of NSW and the local tourism and hospitality industry.

The Celebrating Culture on Country project will highlight the importance of acknowledging and showcasing the connection of the Biripi and Worimi Aboriginal people to the Mid Coast region.

MidCoast Council's 2017 Destination Management Plan

The development of a ‘Centre for Excellence for the Environment and Wetlands’ project is a medium priority, and long term planning is the status on the ‘Forster Tuncurry Revitalisation’ project that would integrate planning for the visitor economy.

The development of the ‘Game Changer Projects’ and the DMP has been a work in progress since the merger of the former three local government areas. It’s seen council act to bring key people, groups, organisations and the community into the process with staff reaching out to potential investors, private landowners, local Aboriginal Land Councils, tourism and hospitality representatives, local producers, chambers of commerce, Forestry Corporation of NSW, National Parks and Wildlife Service, the Manning-Great Lakes Tip Riders Mountain Bike Club and volunteer groups. The community consultation process on the DMP also saw 15 written public submissions presented to council during the 28-day public exhibition period. Council then acted to make five changes to the DMP.

Council says “in most cases, it is unlikely that MidCoast Council would have sufficient funding or be the appropriate land manager to implement the project”, and consequently staff will now work to identify key partners, potential funding sources, prepare funding applications in collaboration with project partners, create a detailed master plan and develop a prospectus to attract public and private sector investment.