Skip links and keyboard navigation

Queensland Ecotourism Trails Program

The objectives of the State’s Ecotourism Trails program are to better protect, present and maintain our national parks and to work with Traditional Owner groups, councils, community and industry to create local jobs.

It’s about conservation, protecting biodiversity and offering tourism in an ecologically-sustainable manner.

The Nature Conservation Act 1992 (NC Act) 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 Queensland Government also recognises the need to capture a greater share of higher yielding nature-based visitors. This is reflected in the Queensland Ecotourism Plan 2016-2020, where one of the five strategic directions is stimulating investment in new and refurbished ecotourism opportunities.

A project team from Department of Innovation and Tourism Industry Development (DITID), Department of Environment and Science (DES) and Tourism and Events Queensland (TEQ) has been established to deliver ecotourism experiences at iconic Queensland destinations, including within or adjacent to national parks, as identified by the Government. Currently, the Queensland Government is exploring the following ecotourism opportunities as part of this program (with additional future opportunities expected):

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

The objectives of the Queensland Ecotourism Trails program are to:

  • preserve, protect and present Queensland’s treasured natural and cultural assets for future generations
  • better position Queensland to capture the socio-economic benefits associated with the increasing demand for adventure and nature-based tourism opportunities in and around national parks
  • develop trails located on public land, but providing opportunities for private sector investment
  • develop a model for private sector investment in ecotourism opportunities to maximise the economic and financial benefits of opportunities that may or may not have catalytic public funding
  • ensure local Indigenous Owners share in the ongoing economic benefits from national parks operations
  • add new tourism offerings in and around National Parks in Queensland – and create new reasons for visitors to travel within and into the State
  • develop nationally significant trails, known internationally and capable of attracting international visitors
  • create new opportunities for employment through management and maintenance of the trails
  • provide an opportunity to educate and inform people about the natural and cultural values of the area through which the trails pass.

Program benefits

Ecotourism plays a vital role in regional communities, generating economic and social benefits, creating resilience through sustainable employment options and local pride. Visitor and market interest in Indigenous culture presents an important opportunity for employment and business development for Indigenous Australians.

Some of the key benefits of the Queensland Ecotourism Trails program includes:

  • the better protection, presentation and maintenance of the State’s national parks
  • the development of a more sustainable ecotourism industry in Queensland, especially in the regions
  • increased significant regional (and indigenous) economic jobs and tourism opportunities
  • increased attractiveness and liveability in the regions
  • more diverse offering of tourism products, attractions and services in Queensland.

Wangetti Trail

Offering walkers and mountain-bike riders a wilderness bushland and ocean experience, showcasing the beauty of the Wet Tropics, national parks, and Great Barrier Reef World Heritage areas, the Wangetti Trail will be one of Australia’s leading adventure based ecotourism experiences, attracting visitors on an international scale.

76 km in length, the proposed route will be divided into six sections, with a further 18km of optional links and trails that provide access to accommodation, towns or special features.

The Trail’s route is proposed to be walked in six days/five nights (end-to-end) and two days/one night for riders. Due to the Trail’s unique accessibility, visitors will have the ability to drop-in and off, allowing them to complete individual sections rather than the entire Trail. This accessibility will increase the potential users on the track at any one time and overall visitation numbers to the region.

It is proposed to establish five accommodation nodes along the trail, allowing walkers to stay en-route for the entire experience by offering a choice of camping facilities, along with luxury accommodation offerings in the form of premium glamping or lodges.

For further information visit the Wangetti Trail web page.

Thorsborne Trail

Photo: Queensland Government

Photo: Queensland Government

The Thorsborne Trail is an existing 32 kilometre, class 5 trail along the eastern coast of Hinchinbrook Island, 8km off the Queensland coast at Cardwell.

Home to the world’s largest number of mangrove species with significant environmental and natural attraction, Thorsborne trail offers walkers a challenging trek through often cloud covered mountain, fragile heath vegetation, lush rainforest and tall eucalypt forests.

Access to the Thorsborne Trail is either by private vessel, launched from Cardwell or Lucinda (Dungeness), or by the commercial ferries which transport people to both ends of the trail. Services may vary according to weather, tidal conditions and time of year.

As part of the Queensland Government’s plan to promote ecotourism, expressions of interest were called for suitably qualified individuals and businesses to partner with the state to design, install and operate low-impact eco-accommodation facilities, including complementary ecotourism services along the Thorsborne Trail. Closing in November, 2018, this opportunity also called for Expressions of Interest for the Cooloola Great Walk and Whitsunday Island Trails.

The Queensland Government is seeking to partner with the private sector, local governments and Traditional Owners to present and profile our national parks through unique and innovative ecotourism projects to deliver world-class eco-accommodation, infrastructure and nature-based experiences in, and adjacent, to Queensland’s protected area estate.

Read more about the Thorsborne Trail and Hinchinbrook Island National Park.

Cooloola Great Walk

Photo: Sue Gregory

Photo: Sue Gregory

The Cooloola Great Walk is approximately 102 kilometres in length and is located in the Cooloola Recreation Area of Great Sandy National Park. A Grade 4 walking track, it is recommended that walkers be experienced as the track has limited directional signs, and is long, rough and very steep in places.

From giant sand hills to hidden rainforests, the walk is surrounded by nature’s chorus both day and night, captivated by a mass of spring wildflowers and stunning mirror-image surface reflections on the dark waters of the upper Noosa River. Walkers also experience lush rainforest, tall eucalypt forest, dry coastal woodland and heath plains crossing over vast sandblows, past perched lakes and along sandy beaches.

The Cooloola Great Walk takes most hikers five days and four nights to complete in its entirety, however there are also short walks available in the area. There are four evenly-spaced public campsites along the route which require nightly permits to occupy.

As part of the Queensland Government’s plan to promote ecotourism, expressions of interest were called for suitably qualified individuals and businesses to partner with the state to design, install and operate low-impact eco-accommodation facilities, including complementary ecotourism services along the existing Cooloola Great Walk. Closing in November, 2018, this opportunity also called for Expressions of Interest for the Thorsborne Trail and Whitsunday Island Trails.

The Queensland Government is seeking to partner with the private sector, local governments and Traditional Owners to present and profile our national parks through unique and innovative ecotourism projects to deliver world-class eco-accommodation, infrastructure and nature-based experiences in, and adjacent, to Queensland’s protected area estate.

Read more about the Cooloola Great Walk.

Whitsunday Island Trail

Photo: Queensland Government

Photo: Queensland Government

Whitsunday Island is the largest of the Whitsunday group of islands. Famed for its natural beauty, the island supports a population of unadorned rock-wallabies, and from May to September the Whitsundays are an important calving ground for migrating humpback whales.

The island’s Whitehaven Beach is world-renowned for its pure white silica sand and crystal-clear water and surrounding reefs contain a dazzling variety of corals. The islands and surrounding waters are protected by the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area.

Whitsunday Island Trail features six public campsites and eight walking tracks.

The State Government committed $2.78 million to establish a new multi-day walk across the island from Whitehaven Beach to Tongue Point and a $5 million election commitment to establish unique, premium eco-tourism facilities and experiences (including eco-accommodation options) on the island.

As part of the Queensland Government’s plan to promote ecotourism, expressions of interest were called for suitably qualified individuals and businesses to partner with the state to design, install and operate low impact eco-accommodation facilities, including complementary ecotourism services along the (soon to be constructed) Whitsunday Island Trail. Closing in November 2018, this opportunity also called for expressions of interest for the Cooloola Great Walk and Thorsborne Trail.

The Queensland Government is seeking to partner with the private sector, local governments and Traditional Owners to present and profile our national parks through unique and innovative ecotourism projects to deliver world-class eco-accommodation, infrastructure and nature-based experiences in, and adjacent, to Queensland’s protected area estate.

Read more about Whitsunday Islands National Park.

Last updated
21 March 2019