Three successful tourism initiatives have been awarded funding under the Nature Based Tourism Co-Investment Fund so far.
These projects have all demonstrated local conservation, community and economic benefits and are great examples of what can be achieved by new partnerships under the fund. As part of developing these new tourism experiences, the operators will also contribute to a conservation dividend.
Big Duck Boat Tours
Big Duck Boat Tours are a multi-generational tourism operator on the Fleurieu Peninsula.
Through their grant of $332,500 they will purchase a new boat and set up a new tour that showcases the beautiful scenery and marine life found in the region between Wirrina Cove and Rapid Head in Encounter Marine Park.
This will enable tour participants to view wildlife including seals, sea lions, long-nose fur seals, common dolphins, bottle-nose dolphins, southern right whales, humpback whales and occasionally orcas.
A third-generation tourism operator on the Fleurieu Peninsula, Big Duck Boat Tours Managing Director Michael Veenstra said being a successful recipient of the fund would allow his business to set up a new boat tour through the region’s most spectacular and ‘Instagrammable’ coastline.
‘It’s hugely exciting and will allow us to invest in a new specifically designed boat which will enable us to set up these new tours through Encounter Marine Park,’ he said.
‘There’s a very high capital cost and outlay to invest in a new boat, which means it’s also a great risk to my business, so to be the successful recipient of a grant which can reduce this cost and risk is a huge bonus.
‘It’ll not only allow us to showcase our very special part of the world to visitors from all across the globe. It will also allow us to grow our team of experienced skippers and guides.
‘Besides the two new tours, we will also be investing in new gyroscopic stabilisation for our second boat, which means that we will be able to offer our visitors a more comfortable and enjoyable experience out on the water.’
The Big Duck Boat Tours will contribute to a unique conservation dividend package, which will include an annual marine research and monitoring plan and a financial contribution to support the achievement of on-ground revegetation works in coastal parks in the Southern Fleurieu region.
For the past 10 years, The Big Duck Boat Tours has worked with Kangaroo Island / Victor Harbor Dolphin Watch, providing substantial subsidies and organisational effort which has contributed greatly to the scientific understanding of dolphin populations in these waters. The new tours will expand the geographic boundary and further support this citizen science research.
Calypso Star Charters
Calypso Star Charters is a successful tourism operator running shark cage diving tours out of Port Lincoln.
Their grant of $181,442 will allow them to set up two new tours to Reevesby Island and a sea bird tour further south of Neptune Island.
Accessible only by boat, Reevesby Island is one of the largest islands in the Sir Joseph Banks Group Conservation Park with beautiful sandy beaches and spectacular views of the coastline, as well as home to a unique range of wildlife including greater sticknest rats, hooded plovers, cape barren geese and little penguins.
Calypso Star Charters Managing Director Andrew Wright said the grant would allow them to further diversify and strengthen their Port Lincoln-based business, adding two extra tours to their offering, which currently includes shark cage diving and sea lion tours. It would also allow them to appoint an additional seven to eight staff members.
Andrew said they plan to add a pelagic bird tour, with osprey, giant petrels and albatross able to be spotted as part of the visits and Reevesby Island tours.
Current title holders of Australia’s Best Tourist Attraction, Andrew along with wife Nicol and business partner Janet Forster said they currently had more than 8000 visitors a year undertaking shark cage diving and sea lion tours.
‘We’re finding with COVID that people are no longer just staying two to three nights in Port Lincoln, they’re now staying for seven to eight nights, so it’s important for our business to be able to broaden and strengthen what we already do,’ Andrew said.
As part of the conservation dividend Calypso Star will contribute to as part of their partnership with Government, they will support on-ground works to restore habitat on Reevesby Island to benefit the island’s fauna and flora populations, including seabirds such as storm petrels and little penguins. This will include key projects such as monitoring and expanding the control of invasive weeds which will support conservation and biodiversity on the island.
TreeClimb SA is Australia’s first inner-city Aerial Adventure Park and with their grant of $600,000 (towards the total project cost of $1.4 million) will establish a new site at Kuitpo Forest with 12 tree climb courses.
The new site will include more challenging courses with longer ziplines and higher platforms, together with new innovations that will be the first of their kind in Australia.
This will include Australia’s first aerial net course, which will enable users with a disability to participate while accompanied by family or carers.
TreeClimb Managing Director Seb Packer founded the innovative business in 2018, which has now seen more than 180,000 visitors climb and fly through the aerial adventure course in the Adelaide Parklands.
Seb said the grant will mean the business can expand to establish a second site adjoining the Chookarloo Campground at Kuitpo Forest.
This would allow him to double his business and in turn staffing, with up to four new full-time positions and an additional 45 casual staff members, with many expected to come from the local area.
‘It gives us the confidence to take that next step,’ Seb said.
‘There are a lot of challenges in deciding to expand, so this funding has allowed us to take the plunge and will really ensure we are supported in this next step.
‘In terms of the new set-up, we’re really excited by the new location and what it’ll offer visitors and particularly families to the area.
‘The new TreeClimb at Kuitpo will be more challenging with longer ziplines and higher platforms together with some new innovations that will be the first of their kind in Australia.’
TreeClimb is currently in negotiations with landowner ForestrySA to provide a financial conservation dividend that will assist ForestrySA in its efforts to support the southern brown bandicoot. A local population of this endangered species was recently discovered within forest reserve for the first time since the 1983 Ash Wednesday fires. This support will include re-establishing suitable native habitat corridors for the bandicoots.
In addition to the financial contribution, TreeClimb will establish an interactive education zone, which will be open free of charge to the general public and educate visitors on the benefits of protecting the environment and preserving susceptible forest areas.