Daintree Gateway open for comment

Thursday 7 April 2011

Daintree Gateway open for comment


The Daintree 'Gateway' is under the microscope of Cairns Regional Council with a project they say will improve its visual appearance and ultimately the experience for the user.

The Daintree Gateway Master Plan focuses on the intersection of the Mossman-Daintree and Cape Tribulation Roads, and the north bank of the Daintree River which includes where the boat ramp and tourist boat pontoons are located and the north and south banks of the ferry landing.

According to the Master Plan report, "consideration has also been given to works slightly to the south of the intersection and in Daintree Village to the west."

Council says access to the Daintree is in poor condition and the Master Plan project will "guide development of a world-class gateway facility that is more befitting of the world heritage values of the Daintree-Cape Tribulation area."

One of the purposes of the proposed upgrade is to increase the economic benefit for local communities and businesses, and drive greater visitation.

While the extent of the work will be limited to landscaping, signage, traffic changes, and small structures to the visitor experience, two options are being investigated to increase numbers to the region. These include:

1.      A simple model comprising information signage at the existing pullover area near the intersection and the upgraded western precinct, combined with signage throughout the Daintree.
2.    Development of a Visitor Centre potentially including interpretive information about the cultural values.

David White who operates Solar Whisper Wildlife Cruises and is part of the stakeholder's consultative group isn't getting carried away with the Master Plan.

"Lyn Russell (Cairns City Council CEO) gave us an inspiring grand vision of an iconic entrance to the Daintree. As time goes by and much money is spent on consultants producing slick paperwork, it feels like the project is getting smaller and less iconic and distant.

"Consultation is good up to a point, but you’re never going to please everyone so I think the Council has to lead from the front and get things done," he said.

"They have been making plans for our carpark for about 20 years and we almost got some toilets, but now we are back to two portaloos and mud puddles. I’m not holding my breath." 

Interestingly, the Master Plan report states that "anecdotal evidence"  suggests that the proposed development may have a negative impact on the number of visitors to Daintree Village.

". . .a significant number of visitors to Daintree Village go there by accident rather than choice, mistakenly believing the Village is the way to go north of the river. A risk of investing in the gateway project is that fewer visitors will make this mistake and the Daintree Village will suffer from a loss of visitation."

In order to reduce the effect and further establish Daintree Village a tourist destination in its own right, planners have considered the development of walking tracks throughout the village and along the river, and an elevated boardwalk and lookout at Martin Creek Falls.

Council will be hosting an informal information afternoon today at the Daintree Community Hall from 3pm to 7pm. Issues for discussion will include the Gateway project and the Daintree Water Supply project.

The proposed development is open for public feedback until 29 April 2011. Comments can be made on the Your Say web forum, via email to daintree.gateway@cairns.qld.gov.au, by telephoning 07 4044 3044 or 1800 070 444, or by mail to Cairns Regional Council, PO Box 359, Cairns, 8870.