Push for Falls funding

The Dip Falls precinct, including the Big Tree, is the target of a combined $130,000 funding concept driven by the Circular Head Tourism Association with financial support pledged by Circular Head Council at Thursday night’s monthly meeting. Pictures: Bodey Dittloff.

Budget. Circular Head Council has pledged $65,000 to the Circular Head Tourism Association if a new funding application for Mawbanna’s Dip Falls precinct is successful.

The CHTA has applied for a $65,000 state government grant from the Department of State Growth’s ‘Tourism Funding Program’, which incorporates two federal government-funded initiatives.

The $4.4 million program is aimed at supporting the delivery of infrastructure projects that bring more visitors to Tasmania, improve the quality of their experience and boost expenditure.

CHTA chairman Clint Walker said the association’s vision for the Dip Falls precinct was to transform it into a “first-class visitor experience” with plans of a new staircase, a 10 to 20-metre walkway, new barbecue facilities and upgraded signage.

While appreciative of the council support, Mr Walker stressed their additional funding was reliant on securing the government grant, remaining “hopeful and optimistic” that the application would be successful.

“I’d be reasonably optimistic that we’ll have some success, given that it ticks a number of boxes that the scheme requires,” he said.

“[The CHTA] had been brainstorming and prioritising the infrastructure projects that we’d like to see in place . . . a top-five wish list. [Dip Falls] was included in that.”

If successful, the combined $130,000 of funds would also be complemented by a separate $70,000 pre-election promise from the Liberal Party last year, targeting the construction of a new bridge farther down the river.

At Thursday night’s monthly council meeting, the majority of councillors voted for a motion to amend the annual budget and include the figure in a dollar-for-dollar pledge, on the condition that CHTA’s application was successful.

In debating the motion, Councillor Betty Kay said it was “not very often that we have an opportunity to meet with these funding [applications]”, believing there had been a large number of tourists who had witnessed Dip Falls in full flood over winter.

Cr Jan Bishop acknowledged the impact the decision could have on the budget: “Although it was a difficult thing [to] think about, it is a chance to enhance one place that is already utilised well. We’ll only spend this money if they’re successful.”

Cr Trevor Spinks said the amendment was an “exceptional circumstance”.

“We have a golden opportunity to have this iconic tourism destination upgraded at minimal expense to council . . . an upgrade that could potentially save a serious accident.”

Against the motion was Cr Rod Hardy, who questioned the decision given that Dip Falls is managed by Parks and Wildlife Service. “I cannot see why we should be spending ratepayers’ funds on something we don’t own,” he said.

Mr Walker said he expects to hear if the application will progress by the end of this month, after which time applicants will need to deliver a business case for their proposals before a final decision is made later this year.

 

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