HIKER'S DREAM: $7 million to improve National Parks access
EXPLORING our National Parks will soon be much easier thanks to a $7 million new trails project by NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS).
NPWS will spend $7 million to develop sustainable recreation experiences in the the region's World Heritage-listed rainforests, including Wollumbin, Mount Jerusalem and Nightcap National Parks and Whian Whian State Conservation area.
The Tweed Byron Hinterland Trails Project will link Mount Jerusalem National Park and Minyon Falls in Nightcap National Park with world class hiking trails and lookouts.
There will also be an upgrade to the current visitor facilities at the Minyon Falls day use area.
A key part of the project is the introduction of a four-day walk from a start point near Uki to Minyon Falls, offering bushwalkers the ultimate rainforest experience.
Bush camps will be built at two remote locations along the walking track network in both Mount Jerusalem and Nightcap National Parks.
Taking a minimal impact approach, natural elements will determine the route reducing the need for extensive trail construction.
Most of the multi-day walking track network will be of a Class 4 standard, which means the hiking tracks are best-suited to self-reliant bushwalkers with basic directional signage provided.
The network will however include higher grade walking tracks where required due to greater levels of foot traffic, such as the Boggy Creek Walk adjacent to the Minyon Falls day-use area.
National Parks have said an increasing demand for Aboriginal tourism experiences from both Australian and international visitors is driving a strong focus on Aboriginal culture and storytelling.
Engaging interpretation, including opportunities for local Aboriginal-guided experiences, will be a key focus with the aim of immersing the walker in the natural and cultural landscape creating a strong connection and sense of place.
The owners of an eco-destination in the Nightcap National Park, Nightcap Ridge, say the project will bring huge benefits to the region.
Nightcap Ridge co-owner Sara Duddy said sustainable projects like these are a "no-brainer."
"It will boost the local economy by attracting new visitors to our local communities and encourage them to stay longer," Mrs Duddy said.
"By having improved access to our national parks, it encourages people to get outside, off their screens, and participate in healthy activities."
The Northern Rivers region is internationally renowned for its World Heritage-listed subtropical rainforests which are home to the highest concentration of marsupial, bird, snake and frog species in Australia.
The $7.35 million project will be delivered in stages with completion expected in 2022.
You can have your say on the plan with submissions closing on March 11, 2019.