Launch. The newly revamped Tarkine Drive was officially opened today at Julius River by Premier Will Hodgman, highlighting $23 million worth of upgrades along the tourist route.
With funding first approved under the previous state government in the 2011/2012 budget, works over the past four years have seen the replacement of the Tayatea, Kanunnah and Rapid River bridges in addition to road, signage and facility upgrades.
Circular Head Mayor Daryl Quilliam said it was pleasing to see the completion of works after initial discussions had begun more than eight years ago, describing it as “a good outcome for Circular Head”.
“I think it’s going to be great for tourists from the mainland, but also for local people,” he said.
“I still believe that the drive will be fantastic for the future. There’s plenty of things to do [and] now they’ve got toilets – I think it’s a spectacular drive to be quite frank.”
Cr Quilliam said he expected the Circular Head Tourism Association – which is funded by the council – to drive the marketing campaign, though added the council as a whole would “do its best” to also encourage visitors.
Other parties welcoming the completion of the Tarkine Drive included Murchison MLC Ruth Forrest, who described it as an “important moment” for local communities, and rally group Save the Tarkine, who thanked past and present governments for their collaborative approach.
With the entire route now open to the public following periodical roadworks, Cr Quilliam said continual maintenance and additional upgrades will be looked at in the future to complement the tourism drawcard.
“The only thing I have a query with is the devil ripples – because they’re built from steel . . . it’s hard on the tyres,” he said of the segmented strips, placed along parts of the route.
Mr Hodgman expected the renewed route would be a boost for tourism in the region, hoping to continue a trend of increasing visitor numbers from a four per cent rise in March.
“These upgrades will make the area much easier to access for a growing number of tourists,” he said, “which is expected to increase from 30,000 in 2011 to 74,000 by 2025.
“Importantly, it will ensure the built infrastructure can begin to match the tremendous natural assets of the surrounding area.”