By CRAIG McTEAR
IF you're involved in the ecotour- ism industry on the Mid North Coast, here's your chance to help form a representative association. Coffs Coast wildlife photogra- pher Roger Fryer, who will be publishing a book on wildlife of the Mid North Coast early next year, says the region between the Hunter and Clarence rivers is one of the most important for wildlife and wilderness in Australia. "Hence, there are a multitude of opportunities for ecotourism here," Roger said. "Forming an association will enable members to join a commu- nity of common interest to ex- plore opportunities for promotion, cross-fertilisation, transport and other areas of co-operation. Roger asks 'Why go to Kak- adu?' when the same experiences are available within a day's drive of Sydney and Brisbane. "The Clarence River valley, for instance, was once regarded as a mini-Kakadu ? a magnet for wild- life with its wetlands, before they were drained.
"Now the wildlife is returning. Birds like brolgas and jabirus are coming back to nest." "South of the Clarence Valley, mountainous regions from Wash- pool to Barrington Tops contain some of the best protected wilder- ness in Australia. "Former premier Bob Carr cre- ated a large number of national parks in that area and there have been private accquisitions of wil- derness areas added to the parks. "Ecotourism is one of half a dozen ways of placing an econom- ic value on wildlife and wilder- ness resources which will encour- age people to protect them. "There are more species of kangaroos between the Hunter Valley and the Clarence Valley than anywhere else in Australia. "While one or two species are endangered, most are quite com- mon locally." n Public meetings to form a Mid North Coast Ecotourism Associa- tion are planned for Coffs Har- bour and Port Macquarie later this year. In the meantime, if you want to help form the association, phone 6654 9555 or 0427 559 575.