Building Bush Tourism Fund pumps $10 million into Outback Queensland tourism destinations

Building Bush Tourism Fund pumps $10 million into Outback Queensland tourism destinations
Edited by Travel Weekly

    The Outback tourism experience is set to improve across Queensland with 57 projects to share in $10 million through the Building Bush Tourism Fund.

    Grants from $50,000 to $200,000 will be distributed to tourism operators, not-for-profit organisations and local councils to create and improve infrastructure, grow regional participation and drive visitors to the regions.

    They include four Indigenous organisations and an Aboriginal Shire Council.

    Building Bush Tourism Fund projects, part of the $30 million Backing Bush Communities Fund, are estimated to generate 234 jobs during planning and construction and 229 ongoing operational jobs.

    They will directly result in an additional 298,509 visitors per year, spending more than $80 million per annum.

    According to the Queensland Department of Tourism, Towards Tourism 2032 raises the profile of tourism and its importance to the economy. It directly supports growing Queensland’s economy via good jobs, better services and great lifestyle.

    The vision is for Queensland to be Australia’s destination of choice for domestic and global visitors seeking the world’s best experiences by 2032. The industry is aiming to more than double the state’s tourism overnight expenditure to more than $44 billion in overnight visitor expenditure (OVE) a year by 2032.

    Feature image: Hartleys Creek Crocodile Farm, Wangetti

    In Tropical North Queensland, 13 successful projects will share in $2.265 million:

    • Riversleigh Fossil Trail, Cairns Aquarium and Reef Research Centre, Cairns
    • Water-focused Environmental Science Centre, Cairns Koalas and Creatures, Cairns
      School Dam Shelters and lookout point bird hides, Normanton
    • Luxury safari tents to expand accommodation, Cape Weymouth Camping and Cabins, Cape York
    • Rossville Retreat increased camping capacity, accessibility, and Indigenous immersion experience, Rossville
    • Crocwise Interpretive Centre immersive experience, Hartleys Creek Crocodile Farm, Wangetti
    • Wawu Dimbi Eco-Cultural Tourism Bush Camp, Daintree
    • Nature-based Glamping, Mareeba Bush Stays, Chewko
    • Lighting up Kuranda improved lighting, landscaping and inclusive accessibility, Kuranda
    • The Canopy Treehouses infrastructure repurposing, Atherton Tablelands
    • Wujal Wujal Culture and Heritage Walking Trail, Wujal Wujal
    • Burketown Wharf Recreational Precinct footpath improvements, Burketown
    • Gangalidda and Garawa Native Title Aboriginal Corporation increased tourism accommodation, Burketown

    Riversleigh Fossil Trail.

    In Outback Queensland, 18 successful projects will share in $3.01 million funding:

    • Hebel Township footpaths, picnic shelters, BBQ and footpath to connect campgrounds to CBD, Hebel
    • Thallon Rail Interpretive Centre exhibition space about town’s rail history, Thallon
    • Spirit Place and Silver Lining Studio upgrades, Barcaldine
    • Jundah Racecourse amenities facilities upgrade, Jundah
    • Ilfracombe Rest Facilities Upgrade, Ilfracombe
    • Refurbishment of historical Yuleba Fire Tower Cabin, Yuleba
    • Indigenous Art Gallery within Outback at Isa, Mount Isa
    • Drovers Heritage Centre/Museum exterior transformation including historic murals, Camooweal
    • Charleville Cosmos Centre facility upgrade and enhancement, Charleville
    • Gidgee’s Bush Camp bore and solar pump installation in bush campgrounds, Morven
    • Charlotte Plains Sustainable Tourism Infrastructure Project including hot pool and upgrade of campsite amenities, Cunnamulla
    • Cunnamulla Hot Springs and Theatre Arts Activation, Cunnamulla
    • Club Boutique Hotel new infrastructure to increase accommodation, Cunnamulla
    • Eromanga Natural History Museum construction of children’s dig pit, including 3D fossil replicas, Eromanga
    • Quilpie Visitor Information Centre, Museum and Gallery enhancements including new undercover entertainment area and accessibility, Quilpie
    • The Lake Quilpie expanded facilities and new accessibility amenities, Quilpie
    • ‘Shadows of Gondwana’ sustainable multi-sensory evening entertainment experience at the Australian Age of Dinosaurs, Winton
    • Crackup Corner transformation of outdoor stage into weatherproof amphitheatre, Winton

      Cunnamulla Hot Springs.

    In Southern Queensland, 17 projects will share in $2.72 million:

    • Development of a Geo Trail centred around the Emerald Visitor Information Centre, Emerald
    • The Ration Shed Museum expansion of exhibition space and improvements to gallery, Cherbourg
    • Laundry facilities to increase capacity for caravan and camping at Goondiwindi Showgrounds, Goondiwindi
    • Improvements to entertainment facilities, including accessible pathway at Goondiwindi Race Club, Goondiwindi
    • Upgraded facilities and entertainment area adjacent to powered caravan sites at Toobeah Coronation Hotel, Toobeah
    • New infrastructure to enhance immersive experience at 55 Million Years Ago Fossil Museum, Murgon
    • Upgrades to communal camp kitchen to improve accessibility at Barambah Bush Caravan Park, Murgon
    • 5 Wine Domes and Event Space at Ballandean Estate Wines, Ballandean
    • School of Wine and Spirits immersive educational hub at Bents Road Winery, Ballandean
    • Pioneer Hut extension and additional facilities at Diamondvale Estate, Diamondvale
    • Queensland’s first Grape to Glass Centre at Sancerre Estate, Ballandean
    • Warwick Railway Station redevelopment to establish a visitor centre, cafe and tour base for steam rail tours, Warwick
    • Paved pathways to improve accessibility throughout Darling Downs Zoo, Pilton
    • Charleys Creek Camping construction of livestock/entertainment arena to host charity events and equine healing therapy, Chinchilla
    • Great Artesian Basin Centre expansion and installation of First Nations interpretive experience, Miles
    • Riverbank Glamping self-contained private safari style tent, Boonarga
    • Multi-purpose function facility at The Dusty Chook, Chinchilla

    Warwick Railway Station.

    An additional nine projects have been funded in the Bundaberg, Capricornia, Fraser Coast, Gladstone and Mackay regions.

    But Alan Smith, owner of Outback Aussie Tours, told ABC Business he was concerned about the financial impact on small, tourism-dependent towns.

    “When you get a stinger like this when it’s slow to start, it’s really going to put them under a lot of pressure,” he said. “You can only make so much money out of two or three months.

    “I think we’re going to lose people out of the communities and out of the business if this stuff continues much longer.

    “The economy’s been tightened and it’s time to pay back that COVID debt,” he said.

    In the west of the state, sales of tickets to the Birdsville Big Red Bash, one of the outback’s biggest music events, were down on previous years.

    “A lot of people are now moving back to overseas travel … particularly the demographic that comes out to the bash,” organiser Greg Donovan told ABC Business.

    Tourism Research Australia data from the last quarter of 2023 indicated the increase in grey nomads taking international trips matched the decrease in those caravanning within Queensland.

    Minister for Tourism Michael Healy said the money will bring nearly 300,000 additional visitors to the regions.

    “We want to encourage as many people as possible to experience the wonders of Outback Queensland,” he said.

    On an ABC North West Queensland Facebook blamed cheap flight sand budget holidays overseas.

    “Airports and planes are packed … cheaper to head overseas than holiday at home unfortunately,” Leanne Seaton said.

    “Maybe the cost of caravan parks on top of increased fuel costs and grocery costs are making it out of reach for tourists,” another commented.

    “This will be a trend over the next 20+ years as the level of retirees fall due to the need to work longer just to live. The 2010-COVID days probably saw the peak in retirees and grey nomads for our era,” Davis Walshe commented.

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