An ecotourism proposal for a 120km-plus walking and mountain biking trail in the Paluma Wallaman Falls area is another step closer thanks to a $450,000 injection of Commonwealth-State funding.
The funding for a business case is part of the tourism recovery package in response to the devastating North and Far North Queensland Monsoon Trough earlier this year.
Minister for Natural Disaster and Emergency Management David Littleproud said the project was a unique collaboration between the Commonwealth, Queensland Government, local Traditional Owners and three local councils.
"The trail will showcase the areas natural beauty and attract tourists," Minister Littleproud said.
"It will enhance the National Park letting people get close to the spectacular Wallaman Falls.
"This will help the region get back to business and let more people get back to work."
Queensland Tourism Industry Development Minister Kate Jones said this funding specifically targets tourism-dependent areas of the state and will help them plan for future disasters.
"All levels of government are committed to the recovery in and around the Townville region — not just with infrastructure, but with support to tourism businesses as they get back on their feet," she said.
"We can now start Traditional Owner engagement around this project, in particular cultural heritage awareness and develop a strategic business case for a Trail," she said.
"The start we're announcing today will show us ways to enhance opportunities in the Paluma Range National Park and Wallaman Falls area — which includes the highest, permanent, single-drop waterfall in Australia."
"Additionally, as the project boosts tourism, it will stimulate the economy by creating local jobs and community benefits while promoting environmental and cultural awareness.
"The Trail will be codesigned with the traditional owners.
"As has been proven in other areas, this work is best done in partnership with the Traditional Owners and in this case our local councils."
"This funding allows for the business case and Traditional Owner engagement to begin and for the trail alignment to be defined," she said.
Townsville Mayor Cr Jenny Hill, speaking on behalf of the three mayors, said this is another step in the right direction for building tourism in the region.
"I'd like to thank the Commonwealth and State governments for this funding to further explore what is a world-class opportunity in the Paluma Wallaman Falls area," Cr Hill said.
"We really welcome this recognition of the unique tourism offerings in the Townsville, Hinchinbrook and Charters Towers regions.
"This has been a fantastic collaborative effort between all levels of Government, our Traditional Owners and other local stakeholders.
"It will be a great way to showcase local country through a codesigned trail offering sustainable jobs and business opportunities for Traditional Owners.
"From today we are able to progress cultural heritage and a strategic business case - done in partnership with Traditional Owners and the councils."
The Paluma to Wallaman Falls trail is an ancient Indigenous trading line, a language line and a songline interconnecting three traditional owner groups. Songlines are the living narrative of our nation, our history written in the land.
The planning phase is expected to take approximately nine months.
The trail could create more than 50 jobs during construction and 110-plus when operational.
The 120km dual-use walking and mountain biking trail will have a maximum gradient of 10 per cent, take seven days to walk and feature eco-accommodation every 16km.
Trail capacity will be limited to 300 people at any one time to avoid the impacts of over-tourism, support trail maintenance and provide visitors with a positive trail experience.
$450,000 will be granted from the joint Commonwealth-State $5 million Tourism Recovery Package under Disaster Recovery Funding Arrangements following the North Queensland Monsoon Trough. The project will be managed by the State Government's Tourism Division.