Wednesday, July 29, 2015


The headline in the Gold Coast Bulletin declared: City leaders banking on tourist info centre to boost Gold Coast Hinterland visitor numbers: see report below.

Why is a ‘tourist information centre’ at Wunburra Lookout on Springbrook going to ‘boost numbers in the Hinterland’? Will it be the ‘plush toys, arts and craft and local foods’ that will draw the crowds in? Why would the national park, the World Heritage-listed National Park, not be the drawcard, itself a sufficient attraction? Is the aim merely to get tourists to visit and spend their money on some trinket, toy, or an arty craft piece while enjoying a snack or a meal on a day out; or is it to promote World Heritage values? Gosh, the visitors would not have to travel any further along the plateau than the end of the one-way track at Wunburra to enjoy these attractive ‘whiz-bang’ facilities! The aim seems to be to flippantly and compliantly cater for the classic tourist who has no interest in anything but entertainment, games and unusual distractions: see -

The prediction that an information centre ‘would inject $34.8 million into the local economy’ seems ambitious. $34.8 million is a lot of money: but what time scale is this prediction based on? Is it one year or one hundred years? The statistic looks like a red herring as it appears to be meaningless, merely a big, impressive number used in the same manner as the ‘Sydney Opera House’ is used to define the qualities of any proposed attraction that seeks some persuasive ‘iconic’ characteristic: see - and  Is the figure just something added to impress in order to promote the idea, to make it more agreeable?

How many more people does Springbrook need? How many more would this centre encourage to visit the region? If the $34.8 million is based on a period of one year, then, if every person spends $50.00 each visit on toys, craft or ‘local foods’ - what foods are local? . . . indeed, what crafts are local? – then an extra 1900 people a day, every day of the year, will have to visit the region.* This is a massive increase in numbers for a very fragmented area that is so environmentally sensitive. The question needs to be asked: what is the carrying capacity of Springbrook? What are the numbers of visitors that the World Heritage area can cope with and still maintain the integrity of its rich environmental diversity for which it is listed? Independent research needs to be undertaken in order to have this question answered. Guessing and hoping, or just ignoring the issue, are not good enough.

Strangely, the predicted dollars are big but the site is tiny. This proposed information centre that is ‘to boost’ the Gold Coast Hinterland is going to be developed in an area reported to be 323 square metres. What size is this building? How many vehicles are to be accommodated in this precinct that has such a restricted space, but is still expected to attract possibly 1900 extra visitors a day? Who knows what number is expected? If the dollar prediction were based on a period of ten years, there would be an extra 190 people a day, every day, spending $50 each. Ten cars – it seems to be a reasonable number -  take about 250 square metres plus general access space. One might guess that a bus parking space would be provided too, maybe two. So what area is left for a building? Or, to look at it another way, with a building providing what one might guess to be an adequate general display area, an information counter, a shop, a cafĂ© and amenities all as the report suggests, what space might be left for any vehicles to stop?

The figures look alarming dodgy, irrational. The prediction of millions of dollars coming in with an information centre that has no car parking, or with a car park serving only a miniscule information centre, appears strangely askew. Is this promotion all part of an ambitious dream promoted by a ‘snake oil’ salesman? Has anyone thought seriously about this place? The report carries images of Natural Bridge. While this natural rock arch is in a remote fragment of Springbrook National Park, it is not at Springbrook or anywhere near Wunburra. What is the aim for this information centre? What is the rationale? Is it merely political hype?

More than ever, the muddling confusion seems to point to the need for such a place to be located at Nerang, so that the World Heritage region can be promoted at a place away from the sensitivities of the World Heritage area, near the busy tourist highways in a place that can provide adequate areas for the information centre and its required parking: see –

Is this proposal just an ad hoc ‘Council promo’ that gathers every clichĂ© seen at information centres around the world – ‘open seven days a week, provide free Wi-Fi, sell merchandise, food and drink and provide audiovisual and digital technology interaction’? What is the scale of this operation that is described like an arcade game and amusement centre? Why on earth would anyone want to encourage those interested in participating in these entertainments into World Heritage areas? Keep the tourist attractions and distractions on the Gold Coast tourist strip, near the much-loved tourist attractions of Dreamworld, Movie World, Wet’n’Wild and Sea World. Tourists adore convenience and ‘whiz-bang’ effects. One ticket could do all! Nerang is an ideal place as it is the location from which those truly interested in seeing and caring for World Heritage areas can access them, both on the Springbrook Plateau and at Natural Bridge in the Numinbah Valley. Nerang also fits in between, near all of the other tourist attractions that the Gold Coast is promoted for. World Heritage 'attractions' must never become a part of this list.

Are Councillors seeking to create monuments for their own glory? Why do ill-considered ideas like this arise? Why do silly, vague, endorsing reports like this get published? Governments do have an obligation to properly manage World Heritage regions. Promoting such apparently poorly thought out ideas as this Wunburra  ‘information centre’ will do little to enhance place or identity – or profit. Clear rigorous thinking and feeling is needed if World Heritage place is to be enriched. Jumping on the bandwagon of tourism delights in a World Heritage location is unlikely do anything for anyone, not even Councillors, especially so if the facts appear to make the whole vision look like a careless farce.

Oh, no! Surely not! Will this be a multistorey development? Cars below, entertainment levels above? Will this be Springbrook’s first escalator? Maybe a lift? Oh, no! One can see it already: a glass enclosed lift for tourists to enjoy the trees, as they would expect. No. World Heritage principles must always be the core of everything that might happen on Springbrook: not tourism.

The ambiguity in the report allows for many interpretations. The ‘$34.8 million into the local economy’ statement can mean anything. By way of example, the figures here interpret ‘local’ to mean Springbrook: but what is ‘local’? – see:  The whole matter is vague, uncertain and indistinct, allowing any explanation to make sense – just as politicians like it.


City leaders banking on tourist info centre to boost Gold Coast Hinterland visitor numbers
JULY 27, 2015 10:51AM

     The Natural bridge, Springbrook National Park. Picture: JERAD WILLIAMS

City leaders are banking on a tourist information centre to be built at Springbrook in a bid to boost numbers to the Hinterland.

In the wake of the Skyride cable car plan being put on hold by its backers, the Gold Coast City Council is investigating building a $1.1 million centre. It is thought a permanent information centre, also selling plush toys, arts and craft and local foods, would inject $34.8 million into the local economy.

The centre is earmarked for a site at Wunburra Lookout covering about 323sq m.

Area councillor Glenn Tozer said an upgrade of nearby intersections would be needed if the facility was built at the lookout.

“The ratio of overseas visitors coming here is higher than the rest of the Coast and someone not from here is more interested in the Hinterland experience,” he said.

“So ... it is important we get this right but we want to work with the state to get the best location and make sure it is aligned with other facilities.”

Council documents to the Economic Development committee said the area needed a proper tourist facility.

“It must ... open seven days a week, provide free Wi-Fi, sell merchandise, food and drink and provide audiovisual and digital technology interaction.”

     Natural Bridge, Springbrook National Park. Picture: JERAD WILLIAMS

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