This consortium project was submitted by us and Warren Shire Council on behalf of the Destination Macquarie Marshes Task Force. Other members of the Task Force include: Coonamble, Walgett, Brewarrina, Bourke and Bogan Shire Councils, Warren Macquarie Local Aboriginal Lands Council, Macquarie Wetlands Association Incorporated, NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service and the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage.
The Task Force was convened by RiverSmart in April 2017 following the preparation (in December 2016) of the Destination Macquarie Marshes Action Plan, with funds provided through the Murray-Darling Energise Enterprise Fund.
This Action Plan was informed by an earlier Feasibility study into the creation of a Macquarie Marshes Wetland Education and Cultural Centre of December 2010. That study examined the performance of the 46 other Wetland Centres around the country at that time, plus regional, State and national tourism-related data to forecast a medium-sized centre for the Marshes could expect to see visitation levels reach 40,000 per year over a five year period resulting in a direct injection of over $11m annually into the regional economy. (Note: both this Feasibility Study and the Destination Macquarie Marshes Action Plan were prepared by Tara O’Connell of the Tarani Group).
More specifics about this project:
For many years the so-called ‘gateway’ communities surrounding the Macquarie Marshes in the far north-west of NSW have been aware of the growing interest in visiting these World-acclaimed wetlands and have voiced frustrations at the lack of signage, infrastructure and access (see amp below). This includes the towns of Warren, Coonamble, Walgett, Brewarrina, Bourke, Nyngan, Carinda and Quambone. Travellers regularly express frustration and disappointment that they couldn’t get to see the real Marshes; just a glimpse here and there as they drove through.
The Macquarie Marshes offer a major opportunity to boost the local economies of this region and generate jobs; but only if there is significant investment in infrastructure, which this project will do.
The project is designed to address the following three key problems:
1. Opportunities to view and appreciate the Macquarie Marshes are currently very limited;
2. There is only limited sign-posting and interpretive signage in the Marshes or surrounding ‘gateway’ communities to help self-drivers; and,
3. There is currently no recognised Visitor Information Centre for the Macquarie Marshes.
The project will start building this iconic wetland ecosystem as a major tourism drawcard in this part of the State and Australia. Some of the activities proposed include construction of a bird viewing platform at the Monkeygar Creek Crossing on Gibson’s Way, installation of a 1.8km boardwalk, with elevated section, on the ‘Burrima’ property of the Macquarie Wetlands Association Incorporated, improved directional and interpretive signage across the region, information detailing the significance of the Marshes to the Indigenous Wayilwan people, plus a range of infrastructure additions to RiverSmart’s Window on the Wetlands Centre in Warren for it to operate as a Visitor Information Centre for the Macquarie Marshes.
In simple terms, increased visitation to the region will mean more dollars spent in these communities, giving them a much needed economic boost. It should also stimulate new business creation in response to the expectations of the travelling public. More people need more places to stay, eat, buy supplies etc. It is also expected that new businesses will be created to help offer travellers a better experience through guided tours, farm stay options etc.