MP's grand plan for Mackay, Whitsunday's tourist market
MP Jason Costigan wants to create a tourist experience with a difference in the Mackay-Whitsunday hinterland - a tourist drive linking the region's dams.
The outspoken LNP Member for Whitsunday has been pushing for the development of his pet project -the Urannah Dam - for some time, but to complement the controversial proposal, he now wants to link Urannah via roads to Kinchant, Teemburra, Eungella and Peter Faust dams.
"A tourist drive that takes in Kinchant, Teemburra, Eungella, Urannah and Peter Faust dams would be a game changer for tourism in our regional communities out west," Mr Costigan said.
"It will be great for the Mackay and Whitsunday region as well as the small places like the Pioneer Valley and Eungella and I believe the tourism potential of linking those dams should not be underestimated.
"At the moment people drive to the Eungella Dam and turn back, but there is a real opportunity to link Eungella to the proposed Uranahh dam and then on to the Peter Faust Dam and so on.
"You are not going to have a Urannah Dam without a road, but there are more and more people with a sense of adventure and they want to get off the beaten track, so I believe it would be a viable tourism option."
Member for Mackay Julieanne Gilbert said the concept of linking the dams was a good idea but the terrain and the flora and fauna in the region (which includes state forests and national parks) made it a prohibitive proposal.
"What would be better for tourism is to ensure we have good quality facilities so we can attract the grey nomads, campers and fishers," Mrs Gilbert said.
"There needs to be more thought put into the idea and the cost of upgrading or building roads between those sites is just going to be nearly impossible because they will go through sensitive flora and fauna and we don't want to destroy those areas just to put a road through."
In response to the Labor MP's opposition to the proposal, Mr Costigan said Mrs Gilbert needed to think about her constituents rather than the flora and fauna.
"It's amazing that Mrs Gilbert's first concern is the flora and fauna and not of human beings," he said.
"Julianne Gilbert has to get into her head that her constituents and mine are suffering and they need jobs and economic development and I believe we can get the balance right between development and the environment," he said.
Mackay Tourism manager Tas Webber said the local tourism industry was very keen to support and build on fishing-related tourism in the region, and as such, is working closely with Mackay Regional Council to develop a fishing strategy.
"The fishing strategy will include marketing collateral and self-drive trails, which we will promote to visitors," Mr Webber said.
"We also had the Australia Fishing Championship here last year filming at Eungella Dam, so the word is certainly getting out about our prime fishing locations."
Mackay Tourism promotes two major tourist drives - the Pacific Coast Way, which incorporates Sarina to Mackay (a detour to Eungella and Finch Hatton) and the wallabies and kangaroos at Cape Hillsborough, and the Mining Trail, from Mackay to Clermont.