By ERWIN CHLANDA
The application contains 17,184 words and has been under negotiation for five years. It is still not approved but the “project will be proceeding subject to community consultation and regulatory approvals”.
No, it’s not another Disney World with millions of visitors. It’s a modest project offering tours for eight to 14 people and three guides, walking between Uluru (Ayers Rock) and Kata Tjuta (Olgas), through rather ordinary country between the two icons.
It will involve “a four-day, four-night wilderness and wellbeing experience [in] tents with shared toilet to lodge style accommodation with a wellness centre, spa and plunge tanks”. Projected customer numbers: 2000 a year.
The Australian Walking Company which has “over 30 years proven experience in delivering award‐winning fully guided walks within National Parks … a leader in environmental travel practices” is proposing what they say is a $10m project that “will require the development of about 40km of walking track, three semi-permanent to permanent camps, two lunch spots and three vehicle access tracks to the camps.
“A 45 year sublease from Parks Australia is currently under negotiation with Anangu Traditional Owners supported by Central Land Council,” says the company responding to an “expression of Interest process seeking culturally appropriate tourism ventures as alternatives” to The Rock climb.
The application says there will be shorter walks in the cooler parts of the day and regular evening activities, some with Traditional Owners.
All clients and staff will be inducted in appropriate behaviour to prevent or minimise impact on culturally sensitive aspects and the environment.
Camp accommodation is developed by the Darwin firm Troppo which specialises in sustainable buildings and off-grid service projects for remote areas.
The buildings are low and of neutral colour to blend into the landscape.
Camp One is set at the base of a sand dune with mature desert oaks on the flat providing shade and wind protection.
There will be “Sleeping Wiltjas” on low-raised platforms with attached pod toilets and showers and two main buildings and a “Big Wiltja and Chill Room” with two sleeping or yoga platforms, and a look-out on the dune’s highest point.
“Surface pod” toilets or drop toilets are proposed system, with pod toilet waste removed monthly.
IMAGES: Kata Tjuta Alice Sprigs News; others from the Australian Walking Company’s promotional video about its Cradle Mountain Huts Walk in Tasmania.