Two exciting UNESCO Global Geopark projects have now emerged within two Australian regions under the auspices of supporting local government agencies.
The Pre-Aspiring Etheridge UNESCO Global Geopark, 40, 000 square kilometres in area, is embraced by the Shire of Etheridge in Far North Queensland located west of the international tourist destination of Cairns. Forming part of a geological heritage spanning 1.7 billion years, two relatively recent geological events now feature as iconic geotourism attractions in the region, the most significant of which is the Undara Lava Tube System, truly unique in the world based on consideration of age, preservation and lineal extent. This landform, as well as other landforms in the area proposed for the Global Geopark, have resulted in a diverse range of bioregions including a rich assemblage of wildlife. Committed input from the Ewamian Aboriginal community is sure to identify sites exhibiting rich indigenous culture.
The Pre-Aspiring Warrumbungle UNESCO Global Geopark, features as its core the ragged volcanic peaks and spires of the ‘Warrumbungles’ located within three local government areas in northwest New South Wales. The’ Warrumbungles’ are already an internationally acclaimed tourist attraction steeped in geological history. In addition, it is proposed that the geopark celebrate Warrumbungle National Park’s designation as Australia's first Dark-Sky Park centred on the co-location of the Siding Springs Observatory.
Both projects are engaging with the state National Parks and Wildlife Services and local townships and farming communities.
Development of Two Australian Pre-Aspiring UNESCO Global Geoparks - Report to the 5th APGN, China, Sept 2017
““Development of Two Australian Pre-AspiringDevelopment of Two Australian Pre-Aspiring
UNESCO Global GeoparksUNESCO Global Geoparks ” at 5” at 5thth
Angus M RobinsonAngus M Robinson
Chair, Geotourism Standing CommitteeChair, Geotourism Standing Committee
Geological Society of AustraliaGeological Society of Australia
Photo: Savannah GuidesPhoto: Savannah Guides
Today’s AgendaToday’s Agenda
Progress of Geotourism Development in Australia,Progress of Geotourism Development in Australia,
2012 to 20172012 to 2017
Australia- China CollaborationAustralia- China Collaboration
Pre-Aspiring Geopark Development in AustraliaPre-Aspiring Geopark Development in Australia
Etheridge ‘Defacto Geopark’ and WarrumbungleEtheridge ‘Defacto Geopark’ and Warrumbungle
Pre-Aspiring UNESCO Global GeoparkPre-Aspiring UNESCO Global Geopark
Take AwaysTake Aways
Addressing The Geopark ‘Impasse’ in AustraliaAddressing The Geopark ‘Impasse’ in Australia
2011 to Present2011 to Present
1.1. Establishment by the GSA of theEstablishment by the GSA of the GeotourismGeotourism
Standing CommitteeStanding Committee,, defining geotourism.defining geotourism.
2.2. WeWe gained the support of other key geosciencegained the support of other key geoscience
professional associationsprofessional associations andand consulted widely withconsulted widely with
state government geological surveysstate government geological surveys..
3.3. We commencedWe commenced dialogue with various keydialogue with various key
government agencies.government agencies.
4.4. WeWe organised geotourism workshopsorganised geotourism workshops at variousat various
regional development and ecotourism conferences.regional development and ecotourism conferences.
5.5. WeWe championed Australian National Landscapeschampioned Australian National Landscapes..
Geotourism Definition adopted byGeotourism Definition adopted by
the Geological Society of Australiathe Geological Society of Australia
Recognising thatRecognising that interpretation outcomes in Australian nationalinterpretation outcomes in Australian national
parks had largely ignored geoheritage elementsparks had largely ignored geoheritage elements of nationalof national
heritage, the GSA set about addressing this deficiency with theheritage, the GSA set about addressing this deficiency with the
following definition.following definition.
‘Geotourism is tourism which focuses on an area'sGeotourism is tourism which focuses on an area's
geology and landscapegeology and landscape as the basis for providing visitoras the basis for providing visitor
engagement, learning and enjoyment’.engagement, learning and enjoyment’.
Environment, Natural & Cultural HeritageEnvironment, Natural & Cultural Heritage
comprises the following:comprises the following:
1.1. AAbioticbiotic – non-living aspects such as the climate & geology– non-living aspects such as the climate & geology
e.g. landscape and landforms:e.g. landscape and landforms: GEODIVERSITYGEODIVERSITY
2.2. BBioticiotic – the living parts eg. fauna (animals) and flora– the living parts eg. fauna (animals) and flora
3.3. CCulturalultural – past & present, non-living & built– past & present, non-living & built
PartsParts B+CB+C are well interpreted within tourism, especially throughare well interpreted within tourism, especially through
ecotourism and cultural tourism,ecotourism and cultural tourism, butbut AA has typically not been wellhas typically not been well
addressed in Australia.addressed in Australia.
Source: Dowling, 2013
Governance Model and Tourism in AustraliaGovernance Model and Tourism in Australia
1.1. Australian GovernmentAustralian Government – markets tourism globally– markets tourism globally
and is principal point of contact with UNESCO.and is principal point of contact with UNESCO.
2. Eight2. Eight State and Territory GovernmentsState and Territory Governments – responsible– responsible
for all land use management (including mineralfor all land use management (including mineral
resources) and planning, including tourismresources) and planning, including tourism
development and marketing.development and marketing.
33.. Local Government (Shire Councils)Local Government (Shire Councils) – controlled by– controlled by
State Governments – provide most communityState Governments – provide most community
services and tourism information.services and tourism information.
Key FactorsKey Factors
Geopark Development In Australia - 2017Geopark Development In Australia - 2017
Pre-Aspiring Geopark development needs to be state/local
government agency initiated and supported.
A high level of community (including other land-user)
engagement is essential to meet UNESCO requirements.
The key driver of geopark development must be focused on
regional development – i.e. jobs and growth and demonstrate
economic benefit to offset perceived political risk.
The approval of Government Geological Surveys for individual
projects is an absolute necessity.
Australian Government approval for UNESCO nomination may
well be achieved if state/territory government
‘ownership’endorsement and funding is clearly established..
Australia-China Memorandum of CooperationAustralia-China Memorandum of Cooperation
The GSA and the Geological Society of ChinaThe GSA and the Geological Society of China
Executed June 2016Executed June 2016
The Australia-China relationship is becoming moreThe Australia-China relationship is becoming more
importantimportant with the increasing level of economic,with the increasing level of economic,
social and cultural activities in the coming decades.social and cultural activities in the coming decades.
The Memorandum of Cooperation will be focusedThe Memorandum of Cooperation will be focused
onon growing and enhancing best practice nature-growing and enhancing best practice nature-
based tourism (i.e. geotourism)based tourism (i.e. geotourism) in both countries.in both countries.
Tourism park managers could play a significant roleTourism park managers could play a significant role
inin establishing ‘sister’ relationships between parks,establishing ‘sister’ relationships between parks,
as a key driver of future geotourism.as a key driver of future geotourism.
Australia’s Pre-Aspiring UNESCO GlobalAustralia’s Pre-Aspiring UNESCO Global
Geopark Development Efforts in 2017Geopark Development Efforts in 2017
Status of Pre-Aspiring UNESCO Global GeoparksStatus of Pre-Aspiring UNESCO Global Geoparks
Pre-Aspiring UNESCO Global Geopark proposals arePre-Aspiring UNESCO Global Geopark proposals are
those undergoing assessment to obtain community &those undergoing assessment to obtain community &
government supportgovernment support PRIOR to any application,PRIOR to any application, atat
which stage the project status changes to ‘Aspiring’.which stage the project status changes to ‘Aspiring’.
EtheridgeEtheridge Scenic Area is a ‘defacto geopark’ and isScenic Area is a ‘defacto geopark’ and is
nownow NOTNOT subject to any assessment process.subject to any assessment process.
WarrumbungleWarrumbungle Pre-Aspiring UNESCO Global GeoparkPre-Aspiring UNESCO Global Geopark
is currently subject to discussions with the Stateis currently subject to discussions with the State
Govt. as to the scope & size of the project; theGovt. as to the scope & size of the project; the
application is not being lodged this year and isapplication is not being lodged this year and is onon
Etheridge Scenic Area, QueenslandEtheridge Scenic Area, Queensland
Comprising theComprising the entire Shire ofentire Shire of
EtheridgeEtheridge, and including areas, and including areas
of outstanding volcanic andof outstanding volcanic and
mining heritage - embracingmining heritage - embracing
some 40,000 sq km.some 40,000 sq km.
Tallaroo Hot Springs – Ewamian Aboriginal CorporationTallaroo Hot Springs – Ewamian Aboriginal Corporation
TerrEstrial Museum and Global Peace MonumentTerrEstrial Museum and Global Peace Monument
Basis of Landowner Resistance to the then Pre-Basis of Landowner Resistance to the then Pre-
Aspiring Etheridge Global GeoparkAspiring Etheridge Global Geopark
11. The proposed UNESCO affiliation promoted a. The proposed UNESCO affiliation promoted a fear offear of
further regulation & restrictionsfurther regulation & restrictions curbing current andcurbing current and
future activities & potentially leading to a WHAfuture activities & potentially leading to a WHA
2.The large area of the application2.The large area of the application across the wholeacross the whole
Shire which included large land tracts which wereShire which included large land tracts which were
considered unlikely to be of interest for tourism.considered unlikely to be of interest for tourism.
33.The use of the term ‘geopark’,.The use of the term ‘geopark’, which was interpretedwhich was interpreted
by many to imply some form of existing or potentialby many to imply some form of existing or potential
environmental protectionenvironmental protection (aligned to an expanded(aligned to an expanded
national parks network)national parks network)..
Etheridge Scenic Area, Qld – A ‘Defacto’ GeoparkEtheridge Scenic Area, Qld – A ‘Defacto’ Geopark
GeositesGeosites –– In abundance, with Undara as a globalIn abundance, with Undara as a global
Geo villagesGeo villages –– Georgetown, Mt Surprise, Forsayth,Georgetown, Mt Surprise, Forsayth,
Einasleigh, all with community engaged geositesEinasleigh, all with community engaged geosites
(including gem fields); key established(including gem fields); key established ecotourismecotourism
resortsresorts of Undara and Cobbold Gorge.of Undara and Cobbold Gorge.
GeotrailsGeotrails –– As well as the Savannah Way (Lava tubes,As well as the Savannah Way (Lava tubes,
Gems and Gorges Trail) with connections to nearbyGems and Gorges Trail) with connections to nearby
famous mining heritage locations.famous mining heritage locations.
National ParksNational Parks –– Undara Volcanic Parks plus six otherUndara Volcanic Parks plus six other
protected areas.protected areas.
Pre-AspiringPre-Aspiring Warrumbungles UNESCO Global Geopark,Warrumbungles UNESCO Global Geopark,
New South WalesNew South Wales
CurrentlyCurrently comprising the Shires of Warrambungle,comprising the Shires of Warrambungle,
Gilgandra and Coonamble, 27,000 sq kmGilgandra and Coonamble, 27,000 sq km
Pre -AspiringPre -Aspiring WarrumbunglesWarrumbungles
UNESCO Global Geopark,UNESCO Global Geopark,
New South WalesNew South Wales
Outstanding MioceneOutstanding Miocene
Shield VolcanoShield Volcano
remnant landformsremnant landforms
located in thelocated in the
National ParkNational Park (236(236
square km area) atsquare km area) at
thethe intersection ofintersection of
the three local shirethe three local shire
council areas.council areas.
Warrumbungle National ParkWarrumbungle National Park
Who will be the Partners in the Pre-AspiringWho will be the Partners in the Pre-Aspiring
Warrumbungle UNESCO Global Geopark?Warrumbungle UNESCO Global Geopark?
Regional Development Australia (RDA) Orana,Regional Development Australia (RDA) Orana,
thethe NSW National Parks and Wildlife ServiceNSW National Parks and Wildlife Service,,
Siding Spring ObservatorySiding Spring Observatory, and local, and local
indigenous communities.indigenous communities.
As the Councils progress their application,As the Councils progress their application,
they expect that other partners will choose tothey expect that other partners will choose to
join them, including local and regionaljoin them, including local and regional
tourism organisations.tourism organisations.
Regional development imperativesRegional development imperatives (growth and jobs)(growth and jobs)
are now driving geotourism initiatives in Australia.are now driving geotourism initiatives in Australia.
Creating geotrailsCreating geotrails is arguably the easiest way ofis arguably the easiest way of
providingproviding early pathwaysearly pathways and support fromand support from
governmentsgovernments for geotourism activitiesfor geotourism activities in Australia.in Australia.
More work is needed to overcomeMore work is needed to overcome perceived fearsperceived fears
about the detrimental impact of geoparksabout the detrimental impact of geoparks on otheron other
existing land users such as miners and farmers.existing land users such as miners and farmers.
Members of theMembers of the GGN & the APGNGGN & the APGN can assist Pre-can assist Pre-
Aspiring geoparksAspiring geoparks by sharing data proving economicby sharing data proving economic
benefitbenefit outcomes through geopark development.outcomes through geopark development.
Contact DetailsContact Details
Tel: + 61 418 488 340Tel: + 61 418 488 340
Information about Australian Geotourism and Geopark Development Activities:Information about Australian Geotourism and Geopark Development Activities: