About ecotourism on parks

Photo credit: © Tourism and Events Queensland

Queensland’s parks and forests underpin the state’s thriving nature-based tourism industry. They attract millions of international and domestic visitors per year and contribute billions of dollars to the Queensland economy.

A report by The University of Queensland outlines the significant economic value that national parks provide to the Queensland economy through tourism and recreational use. The university research showed that in 2018, expenditure generated by visitors to Queensland’s national parks was estimated at up to $2.64 billion, which contributed $1.98 billion to Gross State Product and helped support 17,241 jobs in total.

More than 400 licensed tourism operators provide opportunities, through their products and services, for visitors to experience the outstanding natural and cultural heritage values of Queensland parks and forests. Queensland’s protected areas also support many popular ecotourism facilities and a wide variety of businesses that rely on nature-based tourism.

With outstanding natural attractions like K’gari (Fraser Island), the Daintree and the Great Barrier Reef, Queensland is already a world-class tourism destination. The Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service (QPWS) aims to ensure park tourism is best practice, meets contemporary consumer demands and continues to be ecologically sustainable.

Queensland is an internationally celebrated ecotourism destination, delivering world-class interpretation and experiences that support the conservation of our special natural places and help foster an understanding of our unique First Nations and shared cultural heritage.

The Nature Conservation Act 1992 provides for development of low-impact, purpose-built ecotourism infrastructure on national parks that is ecologically sustainable, is in the public interest and, to the greatest possible extent, preserves the land’s natural and cultural condition.

The NC Act is supported by the Implementation Framework for Ecotourism Facilities in National Parks (PDF, 1.2MB) and the Best Practice Ecotourism Development Guidelines (PDF, 1.1MB) which underpin a rigorous assessment process.

The Queensland Government is committed to providing best-practice, meaningful ecotourism experiences within and adjacent to national parks and other protected areas. This is demonstrated by the following ecotourism experiences.

Scenic Rim Trail, Main Range National Park

The Scenic Rim Trail is a 47km, multi-day walking trail through World Heritage-listed Main Range National Park, extending from the privately owned Thornton View Nature Refuge (on the northern edge of Main Range National Park) to Cunninghams Gap.

Visitors can access the Scenic Rim Trail as independent walkers or by joining a commercially guided walking tour. Commercial operations along the trail are owned and operated by Spicers Retreats, Hotels and Lodges Pty Ltd (Spicers) and include two luxury eco-camps within the national park. As part of the project, Spicers built three new bush camps (each with a toilet) to ensure independent walkers could access and experience this spectacular part of Queensland.

Read more about walking and camping options for independent visitors.

Read more about the Spicers Scenic Rim Trail commercial ecotourism experience.

O’Reilly’s Campground, Lamington National Park

Following an extensive revitalisation project, visitors to the former Green Mountains campground in Lamington National Park can now enjoy updated facilities and a wide range of eco-accommodation options.

Operated by O’Reilly’s Rainforest Retreat, the campground offers unpowered camp sites, bushwalker camp sites, campervan sites and family-sized safari tents, two of which are accessible for people with a disability. New facilities have also been added including a large communal camp kitchen, amenities block, meeting room and firepit, all of which provide access for people with a disability. These upgrades now allow more people of varying abilities to experience the magnificent Gondwana Rainforests of Australia World Heritage Area.

Read more about Lamington National Park.

Read more about and book your O’Reilly’s Campground accommodation.

Mamu Tropical Skywalk, Wooroonooran National Park

Since 2008, visitors to Wooroonooran National Park have been able to enjoy a bird’s eye view of the surrounding rainforest while learning about its mysteries from the elevated walkways, cantilever and observation tower of what was then called the Mamu Rainforest Canopy Walkway.

In 2014 a commercial operator commenced managing the attraction which is just 15 minutes out of Innisfail and part of the spectacular Wet Tropics World Heritage Area.

Read more about and book your admission to Mamu Tropical Skywalk.

Walkabout Creek Adventures, Walkabout Creek Discovery Centre

On the banks of Enoggera Reservoir, Walkabout Creek Adventures gives visitors the chance to immerse themselves in this special area of south-east Queensland, only 12 kilometres from Brisbane’s city centre.

Offering stand-up paddle board and kayak hire (single and double), it is the perfect way to get active outdoors and explore areas of Enoggera Reservoir only accessible by water. Keep your eyes peeled for the resident white-bellied sea-eagle, lungfish and freshwater turtles!

Read more about Walkabout Creek Discovery Centre.

Read more about Walkabout Creek Adventures.