A presentation tto a Symposium of the Linnean Society of NSW, 8th November 2019:
Geotourism, a holistic form of nature-based tourism, is a significant emerging and growing global phenomenon. Geotourism focuses on an area's geology and landscape as the basis for providing visitor engagement, learning and enjoyment'. In summary, geotourism
• adds considerable content value to traditional nature-based tourism (the primary motivator of travel to Australia) as well as cultural tourism, inclusive of indigenous tourism, thus completing the holistic embrace of ‘A’ (abiotic – landscape and geology) plus ‘B’ (biotic) plus ‘C’ (culture) aspects. It empathises an approach of increasing interest to protected area managers, particularly given the experience gained from the now discontinued Australian National Landscape programme (which included the Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area);
• celebrates geoheritage and promotes awareness of and better understanding of the geosciences;
• contributes to regional development imperatives in areas experiencing social and economic difficulties through increased tourist visitation, particularly from overseas;
• creates professional and career development for geoscientists;
• provides a means of highlighting and promoting public interest in mining heritage;
• provides the means of increasing public access to geological information through a range of new information and communication technology (ICT) applications; and
• engenders an increasing awareness of the importance in geology as a fundamental science that has had and will continue to have major impacts on civilisations.
The Australian Geoscience Council (AGC), which is the Peak Council of geoscientists in Australia representing eight major Australian geoscientific societies with a total membership of over 8,000 individuals, is currently consulting with state/territory government agencies with the aim of developing a national strategy predicated on consideration of a number of broad topics which include identifying mechanisms for collaboration with providers of other areas of natural (bioregion) and cultural heritage content. Other topics under consideration include geotourism as a means of celebrating and better coordination nationally of geoheritage data bases and establishing a national set of administrative procedures for ‘georegional’ assessment to provide for major geotourism project development.
Adoption by state government agencies of a national geotourism strategy offers the potential to stimulate new nature-based tourism development and a more holistic appreciation of natural and cultural heritage. As Australia’s most visited tourism destination, the Blue Mountains is well positioned to benefit from this development.
Blue Mountains National Landscape and the National Geotourism Strategy
“Blue Mountains National Landscape and the
National Geotourism Strategy”
Linnean Society of NSW Symposium
8th November 2019
Angus M Robinson FAusIMM (CP)
Australian Geoscience Council
The Australian Geoscience Council (AGC) is the
peak Council of geoscientists in Australia
representing nine major Australian
geoscientific societies with a total membership
of over 8,000 individuals.
Under the current 2015-2020 Strategic Plan of
the AGC, and as a Geoscience advocacy
opportunity, the AGC has decided to formulate
a National Geotourism Strategy to
accommodate the orderly development of
major geotourism projects and activities in line
with overseas trends and domestic regional
Understanding Natural Heritage
Ecotourism and Geotourism
National Geotourism Strategy Discussion Topics
as they relate to the Blue Mountains National
Landscape and WHA
Geotourism – Destination Pagoda, Blue Mountains
Natural heritage is the
legacy of natural objects
and intangible attributes
countryside and natural
environment, including flora
and fauna, scientifically
known as BIODIVERSITY, and
geology, landforms and soil
Ecotourism is ecologically sustainable
tourism with a primary focus on
experiencing protected natural areas
that fosters environmental and
cultural understanding, appreciation
But ecotourism per se is too narrowly
defined and is increasingly seen as a
However 'geotourism is holistic,
nature-based and cultural tourism
that focuses on an area's geology &
landscape as the platform for
providing visitor engagement,
learning and enjoyment'.
comprises the following features of both
natural and cultural heritage:
Abiotic – non-living aspects such as the sky,
climate, landscape and landforms, geology
and soils: inclusive of GEODIVERSITY.
Biotic – the living parts eg. fauna (animals)
and flora (plants): BIODIVERSITY.
Cultural – past & present, indigenous and
post European settlement, non-living and
Holistic in scope, geotourism is booming
globally and a key driver for tourism,
particularly in Europe and Asia.
Source: Professor Ross Dowling
‘Place Based’ Geotourism incorporating
all types of ‘nature-based’ tourism
Building the Geotourism Concept - Blue Mountains WHA
The ‘Greater Blue Mountains’ is one of Australia’s
identified 16 iconic Australian National Landscapes.
A few years ago, Professor David Branagan had
highlighted the significance of Charles Darwin’s visit
to the Blue Mountains in 1836.
In 2013, The Linnean Society of NSW held a major
symposium at Jenolan Caves with a focus also on the
earth sciences history of the region.
Australia’s National Landscapes Programme
Partnership between Tourism Australia and Parks Australia that aimed to:
Promote world class, high quality visitor experiences
Increase the value of tourism to regional economies
Enhance the role of protected areas in those economies
Build support for protecting our natural and cultural assets
Engage local communities
The Blue Mountains WHA
was one of 16 designated
‘To differentiate Australia’s iconic natural
and cultural destinations from anything else
available in the world’
World Heritage Area
Iconic Triassic sedimentary
landforms of the Sydney Basin –
eight protected areas
10,000 square km area
Size of Lebanon
Geotourism – Diversity of Sites in the Blue Mountains WHA
(Inc National Landscapes)
Iconic Geotourism Themes of the
Blue Mountains National Landscape and WHA
A: Iconic Triassic sedimentary landforms of the Sydney
Basin; Permian coal/oil shale measures; Silurian cave
system (historically Australia’s premier tourist
B: Cool temperate gardens developed on Tertiary
basalt caps; kangaroos, wombats, platypus, birdlife in
C: Indigenous culture; and European exploration
STORIES: crossing the mountains, discovering and
developing the caves.
Key ‘GEO’ themes of the Blue Mountains WHA
The STORY of the Sydney Basin and the present-day landforms.
Wide variety of landforms and erosional features developed across the
Triassic sedimentary plateau; the Lapstone Monocline.
The Permo-Triassic ‘extinction’ event; and the bituminous coal/coal
shale layers in the underlying Permian sedimentary sequence.
The Tertiary basalt plugs exemplifed by exposure at Mt Tomah.
The early discovery of gold in the Hartley/Fish Creek area.
The complexity of the karst landform and depositional features of the
Thick beds of shale and coal
Tertiary basalt cap
Great Ocean Road National Landscape
A: Blue Mountains Landscape and Geology
A multi-media Tourist Experience from Bathurst to the Nepean River
which aims to promote a contemporary Australian Dreaming Trail from
Emu Ford on the Nepean River at Emu Plains, across the Blue Mountains,
through to Bathurst, Australia’s first inland European settlement (1815)
C: Post European Settlement Culture
Through the maps forming part of the guide book, a recurring theme in
Cox's Road Dreaming is the focus on the Natural History associated with
the road - the study of organisms and their environments, geology,
vegetation communities, and biological and physical processes.
A: GEOLOGY B: FLORA
1. Geotourism as a means of celebrating
2. Enhanced coordination nationally of
3. Establishment of a national set of
administrative procedures for
4. New geotrail development.
5. Geotourism to strengthen Australia’s
international geoscience standing.
6. Training of geologists to improve
communication skills for geosite interpretation.
7. Collaboration with providers of other
areas of natural (bioregion) and cultural
(particularly mining) heritage content.
Geotourism celebrating Geoheritage:
By expansion of the Geotourism
map concept (as developed in
NSW) progressively across Australia
on a ‘state by state’ basis (both
hard copy and online)
supplemented by publications.
By consideration of new ICTs (e.g.
smartphones, 3D visualisation, AR
& VR), GIS technologies as a cost-
effective means of accessing and
better communicating geological
content for travellers and residents
in regional Australia.
New Geotrail Development:
Individual geological surveys from
the States and Territories be invited
to engage, on an ‘as needs’ basis,
and in collaboration with
university/museum interest groups
as well as with state/territory
divisions and branches of the
interested professional societies,
to review the suitability of existing
roads, bushwalks, biking and rail
trails as potential geotrails.
Should be constructed around
routes currently used by
tourists; geotrails should form
logical journeys linking
Should meld the geological
heritage features of a region
with a cohesive STORY.
Should incorporate and
package in the biodiversity
and cultural components
(including mining heritage) of
the region through which the
Exemplar: Port Macquarie Coastal Geotrail, NSW
"The collaborative geotrail project has been led by the University of
Newcastle (A) & supported by Port Macquarie-Hastings Council, the
Geological Survey of NSW (A), NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service
(B) & Birpai Local Aboriginal Land Council (C). Supported by a
brochure, website & smartphone app, the Port Macquarie Coastal
Geotrail is a four kilometre walk from Shelly Beach to Rocky Beach
that tells the story of plate tectonics & how the Earth’s crust was
formed along the stretch of coastline over the past 460 million years".
Enhanced coordination nationally of
geoheritage listings with the objective of
highlighting areas of both geotourism value
and geosites that need to be protected,
the right balance needs to be
determined between the needs of
exposing geosites for public visitation
and geoconservation needs, and
there are no national standards or
guidelines with each state/territory
having different strategies and systems
for recording geoheritage.
Mechanisms for collaboration
with providers of other areas of
natural (bioregion) and cultural
inclusive of mining and
resource industry heritage
(e.g. mining companies,
geological and mining
as well as specialist groups
with interests in flora and
A national geotourism strategy will provide a framework to
enhance the quality and scope of experiences in the Blue
Geotours must offer a variety of experiences for travellers to
succeed as a tourism product.
Making best use of existing interpretative information can be
of great assistance.
Availability of augmented and virtual reality tools supported
by quality interpretative signage would enhance greatly the
visitor experience .
Layers of Time, John Pickett and Dave Alder, 1997
Rocks and Trees, John Martyn, 2018
Geology of the Blue Mountains: A Tourist’s Guide, Paul Gorjan,
Jenolan Caves: The Complete Guide, Mark Hallinan, 2013
(available in a book or on a CD)
Native Fauna of the Greater Blue Mountains WHA, Judy Smith,
Peter Smith and Kate Smith, 2019
Other reference works: Blue Mountain Education and Research
Note: Geology and geomorphology of Jenolan Caves and the
surrounding region by David Branagan, John Pickett and Ian
Tel: 0418 488 340
Information about Australian Geotourism and Geopark Development Activities
Australian Geoscience Council