Water way to promote our region!

IT'S been four years in the planning but the vision to link the natural tourist treasures between Walcha and Muttonbird Island is finally taking shape.

Coffs Coast Marketing manager, Rob Cleary, says $497,000 of federally-approved grant funds will be used to create a package promoting the nature-based experiences along the Waterfall Way. Rated third on the list of Australia's 10 greatest drives last year, Mr Cleary said the road's high profile made it the perfect focus for this eco-tourism project linking coastal and plateau environments.

"There is a great diversity of experiences and landforms along the Waterfall Way," he said.

"Where else can you travel for two hours, scuba-diving at one end and walking among subalpine forests at the other?

"I think of it as subalpine (New England) to subtropical (Dorrigo and Bellingen) to submarine (Solitary Islands Marine Park)."

Mr Cleary said the original idea had been to have a walking track from Walcha to Coffs Harbour however resolving the public liability problems of public and private land tenures along the way proved too difficult.

The spirit of collective cooperation however remained strong and the New England to Coffs Coast Cross Region Sustainable Tourism group was formed.

The funds arrived thanks to the efforts of the New England Ecotourism Society members, who applied for the grant.

Now a strategy to educate and support businesses along the route is well-advanced with design concepts for brochures, business toolkits and a website not far away.

"The challenge is to get businesses thinking in terms of the nature-based tourism product on their doorstep," added Mr Cleary.

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