Don’t Kill the Goose
There are a host of sound reasons to oppose building lodges on the coast of Flinders Chase. Not the least, it’s bad for business.
Kangaroo Island is a shining light for nature-based tourism. The key to this success is plain to see: unspoilt natural spaces and abundant wildlife.
Island tourism prospers because of the freedom and simple pleasures visitors can enjoy here. As one of the world’s great untouched destinations, people can experience nature in a spontaneous, unfiltered way – be that as self-drive travellers or with guided small-group tours.
We mess with this reputation at our peril.
No one is arguing against tourism investment, nor the need for additional accommodation and food venues. But any development needs to be carefully judged for its impact.
When first mooted, the Kangaroo Island Wilderness Trail was welcomed as a project to cater for the growing interest in well-prepared multi-day walks. The local community embraced the concept, including the provision of low-key accommodation on the trail.
However, by late 2018 – and without any community knowledge or input – the accommodation plan had morphed into two large-scale lodges set apart from the trail in exposed seafront locations.
Opposition to this brazen land-grab was widespread, both on the island and the mainland. And, for many guides, tour operators and park staff who’d worked to support and develop the trail, the ruse of these lodges represented a shocking betrayal.
As one guide said: “It’s ridiculous to create a $5M wilderness walk and then turn around and derail it by constructing two resorts right on the coast, in full view of park visitors. It doesn’t make sense – especially in a national park.”
It’s not just Flinders Chase or the wilderness trail that stand to lose out. The adverse publicity engulfing the proposal can only harm the whole island’s status as a nature attraction.
Should these plans proceed this damage will be ongoing. The physical presence of commercial resorts on public land will make them a focus of protest, not to mention lasting monuments to government folly. No amount of green paint can mask their intrusion into such a beloved space.
The world abounds with paradises lost. Yet Kangaroo Island is truly unique. Having been largely spared the excesses of exploitation the place feels like a haven. For a growing number of visitors, it’s sought-after refuge from a chaotic world.
As a result, one of our island’s greatest economic assets is the undisturbed nature on show here, and above all the grand sweep of its coastline. Protecting these wild shores is not just the right thing to do by nature. In this anxious age, it’s a smart business move as well.