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Tuesday, 12 April 2016 16:33

Bushwalking Proposal for the Shoalhaven

A group of people living in the Shoalhaven region have seen the potential of the bushwalking boom.

The Shoalhaven region is an ideal area to promote bushwalking. There is a multitude of choices ranging from beach walking to coastal bushland with lovely lagoon views, and inland there are the spectacular Budawangs. Most of the walking possibilities are in national parks such as Morton, Murramarang and Meroo.

There are already many towns, caravan parks and camping areas which provide an extensive choice of accommodation. Strangely the area does not seem to be very well known so it is very quiet outside the warm weather holiday periods.

A proposal has been developed by the recently formed Shoalhaven Bushwalking Advisory Group which has a membership from right across the Shoalhaven and includes Shoalhaven Bushwalkers and Milton National Parks Association. The group represents a wide spectrum of interests including bushwalking, cycling, kayaking and bird watching. The group is united by a desire to protect and preserve the unique natural environment of the Shoalhaven while encouraging minimal impact recreational access to this remarkable area. Former STEP president, Barry Tomkinson is a member of the group.

This proposal outlines an opportunity to develop sustainable walking tourism, thereby promoting the beautiful natural environment as a year-round national and international iconic walks destination.

Walking tourism has the potential to extend the existing peak season and smooth the influx of visitors over the entire year. This has obvious advantages for infrastructure planning but also ensures that local businesses have more predictable revenue throughout the year, rather than the current boom and bust cycle.

Research demonstrates that for every $1 spent establishing and maintaining walking tourism facilities, as much as $600 is generated for the economy of the region.

However, significant evidence exists to indicate that visitor access to bushwalking and other minimal impact visitor experiences is constrained by a lack of readily available information and coordinated visitor support services, and poorly signed and maintained tracks and access points.

The group’s proposal is for a series of iconic walks to be developed and promoted to position Shoalhaven as a national and international walking destination.

The proposal will commence with work to brand, improve facilities and promote the Southern Shoalhaven Coast Walk, a 40 km walk from Narrawallee Inlet to Merry Beach. The project will act as a pilot for a new, collaborative approach to walking tourism development in the Shoalhaven.

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