$1.8 million boost for SA’s nature-based tourism sector

Saturday 20 November 2021
$1.8 million boost for SA’s nature-based tourism sector


Visitors will soon get extra opportunities to mountain bike through some of Cudlee Creek’s most challenging terrain, experience upgraded accommodation in Belair and wake up in the beautiful Limestone Cost region at South Australia’s newest glamping site.

The three new experiences worth $1.8 million will be made possible thanks to the Marshall Liberal Government’s Nature-Based Tourism Co-Investment Fund which will provide $961,000 in funding for the projects.

The innovative new tourism initiatives include 20 new glamping tents and amenities in Dingley Dell Conservation Park, upgrades including to 40-year-old accommodation facilities in Belair National Park Holiday Park and new customised mountain bike shuttle vehicles to expand services in the Fox Creek Bike Park within Cudlee Creek Forest.

These projects have all demonstrated local conservation, community and economic benefits and as part of their development, operators will contribute to conservation programs such as restoring habitats, revegetation and rewilding projects.

Minister for Environment and Water David Speirs said the Nature-Based Tourism Co-Investment Fund is a key part of the Marshall Liberal Government’s Parks 2025 strategy and record funding for the environment.

“We are investing record amounts to revitalise our parks, improve conservation, boost nature-based tourism and create jobs across the state,” Minister Speirs said.

“These three projects, with the help of the Marshall Liberal Government, will deliver sustainable, quality tourism experiences across South Australia and drive the visitor economy further and faster.

“This includes better access to mountain biking in the Adelaide Hills, new accommodation opportunities at Belair National Park and glamping on the Limestone Coast.

“All of these new nature-based tourism ventures offer visitors unique experiences and importantly contribute towards conservation projects such as restoring habitat or revegetation.”

The three successful applicants being offered grant funding are:

  • The Dingley Dell Cottage ($233,000 grant for total project cost of $466,000). Grant recipient Steve Moignard currently operates the Coonawarra Bush Holiday Park, 25km north of Penola on the Limestone Coast. The grant will be used to develop similar accommodation near the heritage-listed museum cottage in Dingley Dell Conservation Park, on the outskirts of Port Macdonnell. It will include 20 new canvas glamping tents, showers and amenities. The cottage, known to have been home to Adam Lindsay Gordon, one of Australia's famous poets, will also be upgraded, along with ongoing maintenance of its stables and gardens. New tour experiences and events will also be developed.
  • The Belair National Park Holiday Park ($679,488 grant for total project cost of $1.3 million), for improvements to accommodation in the park, which attracts an average of 10,000 annual visitor night bookings. The investment will provide a new four star accommodation offering in Belair attracting visitors seeking a more premium accommodation experience. The grant will also fund two new double ensuites for caravanning guests to use and upgrades to 12 cabins which are more than 40 years old.
  • Escapegoat Adventures ($48,750 grant for total project cost of $97,500), is a family-owned mountain biking business offering skills training, tours and bike hire at various sites in South Australia, including Fox Creek Bike Park within Cudlee Creek Forest. The grant will enable them to expand their nature-based tourism shuttle services in Fox Creek Bike Park by purchasing a 12-seater vehicle, trailer and an AWD buggy to transport passengers and their bikes.

Adelaide Hills-based provider of mountain bike tours and training, Escapegoat Adventures, will use the grant to improve mountain bike shuttles at Fox Creek Bike Park. They plan to purchase an additional shuttle van and trailer and an off-road buggy to allow internal shuttles within the park. This will also allow them to employ an additional driver and run more tours and shuttle days concurrently.

Owner Ian Fehler said the additional shuttle will allow them to run shuttle services every weekend, which means more customers enjoying what is a great nature-based adventure experience.

“Thanks to this funding, this will greatly increase our capacity, and allow us to diversify by offering more immersive experiences, and being able to offer shuttle services where no vehicles can currently go, with our all-terrain buggy. It's a very exciting time for mountain biking at Fox Creek Bike Park and in the Adelaide Hills in general,” Ian said.

The conservation dividend for the project will contribute to priority conservation initiatives within the park, including weed control programs to enhance the habitat for the Nationally Endangered Bassian Thrush.

The owners of the Coonawarra Bush Holiday Park will use their $233,000 grant to set up a similar accommodation offering in the Dingley Dell Conservation Park on the outskirts of Port Macdonnell.

Owner Steve Moignard said the funding will go towards up to 20 new glamping tents with full solar power, amenities and shower facilities providing a unique tourism offering not currently available in the area.

“It’s really exciting for us. We’ve got plans to develop a function facility for literature and music events that will engage visitors to the park with the local heritage dating back to early European settlement and the most famous owner of Dingley Dell Cottage, the highly esteemed bush poet Adam Lindsay Gordon,” he said.

As part of the grant, the conservation dividend focuses on the ongoing maintenance of the heritage-listed museum cottage, its stables and gardens, and the management of invasive weeds such as periwinkle and horehound. The conservation dividend will also go towards other projects in the Dingley Dell Conservation Park including the revegetation of native plant species.

Owner and manager of Belair National Park Holiday Park Jenna Harris said the $679,488 grant will allow their family owned business to upgrade 12 of the cabins to become four-star accommodation, fund two new double ensuites for caravanning guests to use and upgrade security.

Located only 11-kilometres from the CBD, Jenna, her husband Ryan, and her parents Val and Dave all work in the beautiful family-friendly park, which attracts an average of 10,000 annual visitor night bookings and borders Belair National Park.

“It’s an amazing opportunity for my family and the holiday park,” she said.

“Getting access to this grant is allowing us to be able to progress on work that we wouldn’t have been able to otherwise do for many years.

“Sustainability is a core focus of our park, and these funds will ensure we are able to upgrade our facilities in keeping with our ideals, in particular making sure that the cabins are more environmentally friendly, with better insulation, better lighting and more positive sustainable outputs.

“Being so close to nature, as well as a mum to two young children, it’s important to me that we try and minimise our output, by going away from single use materials, recycling waste and installing recycled fixtures.”

As part of the grant the family will fulfill the conservation dividend by supporting works being undertaken by the Friends of Belair National Park and contributing to priority conservation projects to restore significant flora and fauna populations within the Park. They will also continue to promote, educate and improve the “conservation corner” of their 4.5-hectare holiday park.

Fund applicants can seek grants from $20,000 to $1 million and are expected to contribute at least half of the total financial costs of their project.

The fund will remain open until June 2022 or until the $5 million SA Government investment is exhausted.

To find out more visit www.parks.sa.gov.au/park-management/improving-sa-national-parks/nbt-co-investment-fund