at 242 Sheridan Street, Cairns, 4870
The Cape York Dreaming Track - A project facilitated by Balkanu Cape York Development Corporation on behalf of Traditional land owners
THE first leg of an ambitious tourist track that will ultimately snake from the Daintree River to the tip of Cape York will be unveiled this morning. After five years of meticulous planning and consultation with traditional owners, the first leg of the Dreaming Track, located on the north shore of Cooktown, will be officially opened by Federal MP Warren Entsch on behalf of the federal government. Branded the “Gamaay Track” after the traditional owners of the area, the track is a 20km, class 5 walking track beginning just north of the Endeavour River and ending at Nob Point. The long-term goal is for the Dreaming Track to run to the tip of the Cape, enabling traditional owners to offer a diverse range of tourism products and services along the way. It will be a collection of journeys that focus on nature, adventure and Indigenous culture, realised through a network of trails. The common thread binding what will eventually be more than a thousand kilometres of Track will be the skills and knowledge of many traditional owners, who will share those assets to create different business models. Gerhardt Pearson, Chief Executive of Balkanu Cape York Development Corporation which designed and has overseen development of the Project, described today’s opening as a landmark day for Indigenous entrepreneurship on the Cape. “This tourism venture can help transform the social and economic lives of traditional owners from here to the top of the Cape,” he said. “It will offer real potential for Indigenous enterprise and endeavor in so many areas. The Track’s construction and its spin-off enterprises will be Indigenous-owned, delivered by traditional owners, and will be marketed internationally and nationally as an iconic, authentic Cape York experience.” Early ideas being explored include guided tours, chaperoned horse riding outings, boat and taxi businesses, and visitor lodges. ‘Hike it, bike it, ride it, drive it!’ is the Track’s mantra. From early next year, visitors will be able to hike the first leg of the Track after the magnificent efforts over the last nine months of the Gamaay people. Construction of the Track was fast-tracked in March by a dedicated Balkanu team, but it’s members of the Gamaay clan, on whose land the first leg has been constructed, who owned and drove it. Erica and Bradley Deeral sourced workers, managed the budget, and along with a core group of eight or ten of the family, carved out twenty-two kilometers of track on their country. Erica Deeral said the completion of their leg of the Track brought a huge sense of achievement and satisfaction. “We have to do something for the next generation. A lot of land is being given back to Bama, we just got to use it, it’s there,” she said. The Federal and State Governments have financially supported the project. A Community Workforce Development grant from the Queensland Government enabled members of the Gamaay Clan to undertake a Certificate III in Rural Operations, giving them skills in track construction and tourism services. In late 2009 the Department of Environment and Natural Resource Management (DERM) completed customer and market research, studies into environmental values and threats, statutory and legislative implications, infrastructure design and cost, and other studies such as economic cost/benefit analysis. Further feasibility, governance and business assessments were undertaken in 2010, leading to a $1.5 million commitment from the federal Government through the Caring for Our Country program for the commencement of Stage 1 of the Dreaming Track.
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