Eco-resort headlines massive cultural tourism investment
A LANDMARK grant for three developments in Coffs Harbour is set to make Gumbaynggirr country the premier destination for indigenous cultural tourism in NSW.
The construction of an eco-resort to be run by the Bularri Muurlay Nyanggan Aboriginal Corporation is the centrepiece of $5.4 million grant announced today by Coffs Harbour MP Gurmesh Singh.
Situated south of Hogbin Drive on Coffs Creek, the development will feature around 30 eco-tents for 'glamping' and space for cultural experiences and will operate in partnership with the Coffs Harbour and District Local Aboriginal Land Council.
There will also be a major upgrade to Nyanggan Gapi Cafe in Orara East State forest, with the space at Sealy Lookout to transform into a fully functioning cafe complete with a new seating area and the long-awaited connection to electricity.
Rounding out the works will be the construction of an amphitheatre and dancing platform at Korora Lookout to facilitate dance and other activities associated with the organisation's cultural tours.
BMNAC executive officer Clark Webb has been 'dreaming big' to expand cultural tourism throughout Coffs Harbour and said he was humbled by the announcement.
Since starting stand-up-paddleboard tours incorporating cultural immersion, Mr Webb found demand for the cultural experiences had grown considerably.
"People are wanting to connect with nature and there is a lot of interest in managing country - people are really wanting to learn that," he said.
"Our culture is a conservation culture and I think there is a renewed energy and interest in trying to understand that more deeply."
Land Council CEO Nathan Brennan said the investment was very significant and the start of something "really big" for Coffs Harbour.
"This is the start of developing our own economy which is something other communities don't have. It means self sustainability, job creation and continuation of culture.
"It is a huge opportunity for us as Gumbaynggirr people not just economically but culturally."
Mr Singh said the plans had been in the pipeline for the last 18 month and really "took on a head of steam" once the coronavirus stimulus funding became available.
"Bullarri Muurlay Nyanggan and Wajaana Yaam Adventure Tours currently provide exceptional Aboriginal experiences in the region and the funding provided today will help these operators develop a major cultural attraction like no other," he said.
"We are really leading the way here and (BMNAC) has to be commended for their efforts in creating this experience.
"This will be an absolute boon for the Coffs Harbour tourism industry."
Mr Singh added there would be significant flow on effects to the local construction industry as they proceeded with the three developments, which was a key reason why it was earmarked as COVID stimulus measure by the NSW Government.