By ERWIN CHLANDA
A “range height adventure” centre offering a skywalk, cable car, walking and bike trails, the longest zip line in the world, paragliding, bungee jumping plus a restaurant and bar has been chosen by some 70 people attending a local tourism summit today as the most favoured project to re-invigorate the industry after COVID-19.
No location for the venture was proposed although long-time tourism identity Steve Shearer, who promoted the idea, said there could be “issues” with placing it on the ranges close to town.
The second of five choices was a “national steam train experience” that would use the new Ghan railway line, with a third rail to accomodate a narrow-gauge steam train, between the airport and the town. It would bring the Flying Scotsman back to Alice, said promoter Wayne Thompson.
He said some of the Old Ghan running stock could be used, and as the main facility – the railway track and sleepers – are already in place the cost would be less than a “greenfield project”.
A cultural precinct linking the Telegraph Station, the Todd River and educational facilities came third, connected with a light show and the planned Aboriginal art gallery.
Turning Central Australia into the “number one knowledge destination in Australia” is in fourth place.
Tying for sixth place were “an iconic 6-star or above accommodation experience that champions sustainability and in-landscape design in the West MacDonnell Ranges” and “the Red Centre lights up with a smorgasbord of iconic night time experiences which take in the ancient culture, arts, science and history”.
The choices were made by progressively eliminating some 200 ideas raised at successive workshops.
The summit was held by Tourism Central Australia which will now compile a discussion paper for comment by its members and “probably” also the public.
CEO Danial Rochford says the decisions will be presented to the NT Government and Tourism NT as the “views of our members”.
A parallel process of “destination planning” is under way by Tourism NT which did not attend today’s meeting because the government is in caretaker mode ahead of Saturday’s election, said Mr Rochford.
There was a strong view that tourism accommodation is needed in the West MacDonnells, that more night entertainment and activities should be developed in the town and that a tourism trade school is needed for Aboriginal workers and Indigenous guides.
Long-time operator Danny Brennan spoke of the prime period of tourism when Alice was the gateway to The Rock, when companies despatched 50 to 60 coaches a day and six to seven Mercedes Unimog 4WDs to Palm Valley.
Among the unusual suggestions today were a simulated ocean beach, a full-size replica of Uluru on Alice Springs airport land, to locate the proposed Aboriginal art gallery in the West Macs, dam the Todd for recreation, build a cattlemen’s hall of fame and create a 4WD track between Uluru and King’s Canyon.
PICTURED from left: Lisa Perry, Margaret Cain, Grant Whan and Susan Chambers during a workshop.