Springbrook cablecar: Fast track into 100 million years

Springbrook, Purlingbrooke Falls, Cablecar, World Heritage, Gondwana Rainforest

Fast tracking a 9km cablecar into the Gondwana Rainforests of Australia World Heritage Listed Area in Springbrook for the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games is a pipedream, a former Gold Coast District Manager of National Parks said.
“If you fast track it you are not going to look at the issues or mitigate the issues,” Leslie Shirreffs said.
Ms Shirreffs said the world has many spectacular cablecars but Springbrook has too many issues for the Skyride project to be sustainable.
She said the issues include the small size of the rainforest area that the cable car would dissect; the high concentration of threatened species; construction challenges; health and safety issues because of bushfire; and interfering with the water catchment area for the Gold Coast.
“Presentation, which is making Springbrook accessible to people to enjoy the natural values, is an important part of being World Heritage Listed, but the proposed Skyride cable car isn’t presentation, it’s private development,” she said.
Recent changes to the QLD nature Conservation Act by the Newman Government allows for private business development in National Parks.
The Skyride is being backed by a consortium of four “Gold Coast corporate heavyweights”: former Tourism Queensland chairman who formed Pacific Cinemas, Terry Jackman, Sirromet Wines millionaire Terry Morris, the pubs and pokies billionaire who’s ranked 31 on the BRW richlist, Bruce Mathieson, and Managing Director of the Rayjon property development and investment group that developed Treetops estate, John Hembrow.
Blank tried to contact all these investors but they were unavailable for comment. The consortium’s PR company Promedia also would not comment.
The project was announced in Parliament on October 31 by Mermaid Beach MP Ray Stevens, who is both a consultant and an investor in the $100M project. The announcement set off a barrage of questions about conflict of interest from the opposition, despite Mr Stevens’ approval from the Integrity Commissioner.
Blank tried to contact Mr Stevens at his office but was told he was on leave and had made a commitment in Parliament not to comment.
The consortium has already purchased land for the base station at Neranwood about 10 minutes drive from Mudgeeraba on Springbrook Road.
According to an artist’s impression distributed on the internet, the proposed cable car will leave Neranwood, head past Little Nerang Dam to finish at “The Falls” which possibly refers to an area called The Settlement behind Purling Brook Falls.
The exact details won’t be known until the proponent releases the Initial Advice Statement which is needed to start the assessment process. The statement had been expected to come out in November.
President of the Springbrook Chamber of Commerce Gail Geronimous said the Skyride CEO Terry Moore had told her the Initial Advice Statement would be delayed till around Christmas.
She said however it would be a good assumption that it won’t come out until after the election.
“We [Springbrook Chamber of Commerce] agree on a concept of a cableway but a final decision won’t be made until after more information and community consultation,” Ms Geronimous, who hopes the cable car will bring more activity to businesses in the area, said.
“Market research and prospective customer surveys need to be done.”
The Chamber of Commerce President said it could become an election issue but it depends on what information comes out and what progress is made.
“I’ve had two conversations with the CEO and both of those were very short. We need more information.”
Until more information comes out any more comment would just be speculation, Ms Geronimous said.
Leslie Shirreffs said going by the information so far the moment the cablecar enters the National Park it will be dissecting the 2400 hectare Gondwana Rainforest World Heritage Area.
She said 80 percent of Australia’s Gondwana Rainforest World Heritage Area is in NSW, but the remaining 20 percent in Queensland gets the largest visitation by far, because of its proximity to Brisbane and the Gold Coast.
The former Gold Coast National Parks Director pointed out those visitation numbers show that Springbrook is not locked up to visitors and there are hundreds of commercial operators already showing tourists the park’s natural values.
For Springbrook Plateau, being a rainforest with species that that are direct links with the birth of flowering plants over 100 million years ago is a double edged sword.
On one side the World Heritage Listing presents the best marketing opportunity to tourists, but on the other side it presents the best case for protection, Ms Shirreffs said.

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