News from August 8, 2007: Tourism; new road, new babies….
Call of the Tops to interstate visitors
Our secret has been exposed and now the Barrington Tops will be revealed in a major media campaign to promote tourists to the area. A $499,500 Federal Government grant will be used to kick-start the campaign to promote the Tops to visitors in Sydney, Brisbane and Melbourne. The official announcement was made at Eaglereach Wildness Resort last Wednesday when Federal Member for Paterson Bob Baldwin, chairperson of the Barrington Tops Marketing Group John Rydge and CEO of the Hunter Region Tourism organisation Andrew Fletcher met with Dungog and Gloucester representatives. A tourism brochure promoting the Dungog, Stroud and Gloucester was also officially launched. Mr Rydge said the Barrington Tops Marketing Group has been on the job for over three years. “We have made strides with plans and strategies and in the process believe we have identified the missing piece of the puzzle – it is the lack of consumer awareness of what we had to offer the visitors to our world,” he said. “We have funds pledged from local councils and from local operators and key stakeholders in the industry but we were still at levels below the minimum expenditures our professional advisors told us were needed to do the job. “We needed help and that is when the Federal Government stepped in.” The government grant, from its Australian Tourism Development Program, will match a similar amount raised by the group. Mr Baldwin said the Barrington Tops is one of Australia’s unique destinations and forms part of the diverse Hunter region. “There is plenty to do from exploring the rivers and subtropical rainforests to enjoying a quiet break breathing in the clean air and enjoying the view. “The experience here is so diverse it would take years to see everything. “Tourism is an important industry for regional Australia, gaining 47 cents of every tourism dollar spent.” In addition to the campaigns, Mr Baldwin said the Barrington Tops area would also benefit from $300,000 from the government to assist with tourism promotion in the Hunter in the wake of the recent storms and flooding.
Low road link
The low road option for the new Dungog to Salisbury road is favoured by the majority of local residents in the wake of the proposed Tillegra Dam. The community was invited to a public meeting in May to view a number of road relocation options to provide access between Dungog and Salisbury. A section of around 15 kilometres of the existing Salibury Road, between Tillegra Bridge and Underbank, will be cut by the dam. Six options were identified and the community was invited to complete a feedback form on their preferred route. Of the 110 submissions received by Hunter Water, 73 per cent preferred the low road option which follows the northern ridgeline from the eastern end of the proposed dam, offering views of both the proposed dam and rural areas. Consultants GHD who collated the information, said the low road options were favoured as they were seen to have the least impact on property, agricultural farmland and the environment. The findings also showed road safety and impact to residential property and agricultural farmland were the biggest concerns among residents. Hunter Water held a road relocation workshop in Dungog last Thursday, discussing the six different options. Manager of community relations for the Tillegra Dam project Helen Vorlicek said it came down to the two low road options. “This was the best considered and also took into account the community’s viewpoint,” she said. “We are looking at a few minor adjustments to properties within the proposed route and the next step is to sit down with council to map out the desired route.”
Mayor of Dungog, councillor Glenn Wall said all the high route options were culled. “This was predominantly to do with fire concerns and construction issues,” he said. “It was a good meeting, lots of frank discussion and concern where the road may encroach on people’s properties. “There was no great disparity between the survey results and what the forum came up with.” Recreational pursuits The questionnaire also allowed the community to indicate what type of recreational use they would like to see around the dam. Approximately 80 per cent of respondents did not want to see powered water-based activities such as high-powered boating and wakeboarding. The majority favoured passive recreational activities such as canoeing, fishing, picnic areas, rowing boats, swimming and sail boating. Also included in the least favoured activities were trail bikes and four-wheel driving. Surprisingly resort accommodation, caravan park, health resort and a sport and recreational centre were the least favoured, with people indicating they didn’t want that type of activity in the vicinity of the dam. Restaurants and monuments were also on the nogo list, but picnic areas and viewing platforms got the tick of approval. Campsites and holiday cabins were the most favoured with respondents indicating they were keen to see this type of activity. They felt these facilities would encourage people who wanted to stay in the peace and quiet and maintain the existing natural environment. Results of the road and recreational survey can be viewed at www.hunterwater.com.au/tillegraDam.asp