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Blue Mountains National Landscape and the National Geotourism Strategy


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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.

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Blue Mountains National Landscape and the National Geotourism Strategy

  1. 1. “Blue Mountains National Landscape and the National Geotourism Strategy” Linnean Society of NSW Symposium 8th November 2019 Angus M Robinson FAusIMM (CP)
  2. 2. 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 development imperatives.
  3. 3. Today’s Agenda  Understanding Natural Heritage  Ecotourism and Geotourism  National Geotourism Strategy Discussion Topics as they relate to the Blue Mountains National Landscape and WHA  Geotrails  Geotourism – Destination Pagoda, Blue Mountains  Take-Aways
  4. 4. Understanding Natural Heritage Natural heritage is the legacy of natural objects and intangible attributes encompassing the countryside and natural environment, including flora and fauna, scientifically known as BIODIVERSITY, and geology, landforms and soil landscapes, i.e. GEODIVERSITY (Geoheritage)
  5. 5. Ecotourism & Geotourism Concepts  Ecotourism is ecologically sustainable tourism with a primary focus on experiencing protected natural areas that fosters environmental and cultural understanding, appreciation and conservation.  But ecotourism per se is too narrowly defined and is increasingly seen as a niche market.  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'.
  6. 6. Geotourism 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 built. Holistic in scope, geotourism is booming globally and a key driver for tourism, particularly in Europe and Asia. Source: Professor Ross Dowling
  7. 7. ‘Place Based’ Geotourism incorporating all types of ‘nature-based’ tourism Astrotourism Cuisine Agritourism Indigenous Tourism Heritage Tourism Cultural Tourism ECOTOURISM Geotourism i.e. ‘experiential tourism’
  8. 8. Geotourism is not 'geological tourism’'
  9. 9. 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.
  10. 10. Australia’s 16 National Landscapes
  11. 11. 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 Australian National Landscapes ‘To differentiate Australia’s iconic natural and cultural destinations from anything else available in the world’
  12. 12. Blue Mountains World Heritage Area Iconic Triassic sedimentary landforms of the Sydney Basin – eight protected areas 10,000 square km area Size of Lebanon
  13. 13. Geotourism – Diversity of Sites in the Blue Mountains WHA Geotourism Icons (Inc National Landscapes) Mine Sites National Parks/Reserves/ Urban Parks Geo-trails Geo-sites Geoparks/ PaleoParks Caves/Karst Areas Landforms WHAs
  14. 14. 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 attraction).  B: Cool temperate gardens developed on Tertiary basalt caps; kangaroos, wombats, platypus, birdlife in the wild.  C: Indigenous culture; and European exploration STORIES: crossing the mountains, discovering and developing the caves.
  15. 15. 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 Jenolan Caves.
  16. 16. Thick beds of shale and coal Tertiary basalt cap
  17. 17. Great Ocean Road National Landscape A: Blue Mountains Landscape and Geology
  18. 18. A: Jenolan Caves Limestone Caves
  19. 19. Great Ocean Road National Landscape B: Blue Mountains Botanic Gardens, Mt Tomah
  20. 20. C: Blackfellows Hand Cave, Lithgow
  21. 21. C:
  22. 22. 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
  23. 23. 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
  24. 24. National Geotourism Strategy – Discussion Topics 1. Geotourism as a means of celebrating geoheritage. 2. Enhanced coordination nationally of geoheritage listings. 3. Establishment of a national set of administrative procedures for ‘georegional’ assessment. 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.
  25. 25. National Geotourism Strategy – Topic #1 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.
  26. 26. National Geotourism Strategy – Topic #4 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.
  27. 27. Best Practice Geotrails  Should be constructed around routes currently used by tourists; geotrails should form logical journeys linking accommodation destinations.  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 geotrail traverses.
  28. 28. 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".
  30. 30. Great Ocean Road National Landscape
  31. 31. National Geotourism Strategy – Topic #2 Enhanced coordination nationally of geoheritage listings with the objective of highlighting areas of both geotourism value and geosites that need to be protected, given that  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. •
  32. 32. National Geotourism Strategy – Topic #7 Mechanisms for collaboration with providers of other areas of natural (bioregion) and cultural heritage content,  inclusive of mining and resource industry heritage (e.g. mining companies, geological and mining museums, historical societies,  as well as specialist groups with interests in flora and fauna etc.)
  33. 33. The
  34. 34. Lithgow State Mine and Heritage Park
  35. 35. Lithgow State Mine and Heritage Park
  36. 36. Photo by Henry Gold
  37. 37. Pagoda, ‘Gardens of Stone’
  38. 38. Take-Aways  A national geotourism strategy will provide a framework to enhance the quality and scope of experiences in the Blue Mountains WHA.  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 .
  39. 39. Field Guides  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, 2019  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 Trust Note: Geology and geomorphology of Jenolan Caves and the surrounding region by David Branagan, John Pickett and Ian Percival, 2014
  40. 40. Contact Details Tel: 0418 488 340 Information about Australian Geotourism and Geopark Development Activities Australian Geoscience Council