WA Government planning for Houtman Abrolhos Islands national park by July 2019, Geraldton tourism investment summit told

Zoe KeenanGeraldton Guardian

The Houtman Abrolhos Islands could become a national park by July 2019, a tourism investment summit in Geraldton has been told.

Upgrades to the airstrip, building visitor infrastructure at Turtle Bay and Beacon Island, and interpretation sites are part of plans to develop tourism services on the islands.

In October 2017 the WA Government announced it would allocate $10 million for the Abrolhos islands over two years from 2019 to create a national park.

An interagency project team, including the Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions and the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development, is planning where the money will be used.

DBCA principal policy adviser Kathleen Lowry discussed these plans at the Growing Greater Geraldton Tourism Investment Summit in Geraldton last week.

Ms Lowry said the team was starting to meet with local stakeholders, including the Mid West Development Commission, Museum of Geraldton and the rock lobster industry.

“We’re meeting with stakeholders now to find out what the priorities are so when the money hits in 2019 we have projects ready to start,” Ms Lowry said.

“We’re aiming to create a national park by July 2019.”

The main issues to overcome were access for tourists, the risks for visitors, environmental impacts, the history of the islands and the operational fishing shacks which would continue to be managed by the fisheries department.

RELATED CONTENT

Room for Abrolhos on cruise ship itineraries, summit told

Abrolhos ecotourism opportunity still stands, summit told

“Interpretation about the history of the Batavia story, how we can communicate that to visitors and being conscious of burial sites is all being planned,” Ms Lowry said.

WA Museum chief executive officer Alec Coles said it was early days but they were meeting with the departments and keen to develop ideas for interpretation of the Abrolhos stories.

“The museum is the obvious gateway to stories in the region,” Mr Coles said.

The museum worked with UWA and Curtin University on Beacon Island virtual tours and were keen to develop similar digital interpretation for the Abrolhos islands group to avoid cluttering the islands with signposts, he said.

The City of Greater Geraldton and Mid West Development Commission have applied for an extra $10 million in funding from the Federal Government.

Get the latest news from thewest.com.au in your inbox.

Sign up for our emails