Worimi Local Aboriginal Land Council has lodged plans to develop a $14 million eco-trourism project near Lavis Lane, Williamtown as part of a strategy to develop an economically sustainable future for the organisation.
A development application lodged with Port Stephens Council proposes to develop a car park, including coach drop-off, storage and maintenance facility, multi-functional lodges for overnight accommodation, a manager’s residence and a ‘commons’ area.
The eco-tourism plan includes quad-bike tours, bush-tucker sessions, cultural awareness tours, flora and fauna tours and self-guided sessions.
The project will be developed on part of a 51 hectare parcel of land owned by the land council. The land historically provided rich food, water and other resources for the Worimi people, who continue to live in the area.
Both local and international visitors are targeted in the plan, which aims to generate long term employment for the land council’s staff and members from overnight accommodation and activity fees.
“Given that a principal function of Worimi Local Aboriginal Land Council is management of it’s land and the promotion of Aboriginal cultural protection and awareness, it is entirely appropriate that the land council looks to develop a sustainable eco-tourist facility and undertake associated activities,” an environmental impact statement for the project says.
It is hoped the lack of overnight accommodation and camping in the area will encourage visitors to stay at the 44 overnight units.
The proposed units feature solid panels for natural light and ventilation, a window seat, and a circular skylight above each double bed to allow for additional natural light during the day and viewing the stars at night.
“Further, the units have been designed to include an encircling deck of spotted gum, exterior walls of the same material and fly roof features of a lightweight membrane shading fabric,” the environmental impact statement says.
Five units have been designed with footbridges connecting to the main path for wheelchair accessibility.
The site was used as a sand mine between 1986 and 1992.
‘The mined portion of [of the site] has no in-situ Aboriginal artefacts or old growth vegetation,” the environmental impact statement says.
“Rehabilitation efforts by the miner and the land council have regenerated some level of cover, but the biodiversity value of the land is relatively low.”
The Joint Regional Planning Planning Panel is expected to make a determination on the project in the new year.