Chiefs welcome big Wadandi Track funding for Margaret River and Busselton

Warren HatelyAugusta Margaret River Times
The $17.5 million funding will help connect and upgrade all sections of the Wadandi Track.
Camera IconThe $17.5 million funding will help connect and upgrade all sections of the Wadandi Track. Credit: Paris Hawken

A massive windfall for one of the Capes region’s most under-utilised tracks was welcomed by local government chiefs this week.

Environment Minister Reece Whitby detailed a $165 million plan for tourism conservation at the weekend that included $17.5 million to unify the full 110km length of the Wadandi Track.

The lesser-known cousin to the Cape-to-Cape Track stretches from Augusta to Busselton through some of the most scenic countryside in the South West.

Mr Whitby said the money was part of the State Government’s integrated approach to improve the tourism potential of natural assets including WA’s national parks.

“WA’s unique environment is a point of difference for our State, and the Cook Government is committed to ensuring it’s accessible to as many tourists and visitors as possible,” Mr Whitby said.

“This investment will bolster our government’s long-standing commitment to supporting quality tourism experiences throughout WA’s national and marine parks.”

The news follows comments earlier this year from Tourism Council WA chief Evan Hall lashing stakeholders including the Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions for not having their tourism hats on when planning for the region’s future.

Margaret River-Busselton Tourism Association chair Stuart Hicks was among those calling for urgent funding for the Leeuwin-Naturaliste National Park as part of an alliance of key stakeholders concerned it was being “loved to death”.

Despite still wanting the Minister to double the park’s rangers and commit to more on-the-ground conservation efforts, Mr Hicks welcomed the Wadandi Track decision as a “gamechanger”.

“The track will connect and create opportunities for the townships and businesses located in its proximity and position our region as one of the great food and wine tourism walk-and-cycle trail experiences on the planet,” he said.

Augusta-Margaret River shire president Julia Meldrum also cheered the news, but as an alliance member, also sounded a note of caution.

“The investment in the Wadandi Track will provide yet another reason for people to visit the region, but that also puts pressure on our infrastructure, facilities and the environment,” she said.

Busselton Mayor Phill Cronin told the Times the project was “a positive step” towards the city’s own efforts to connect the track.

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