South Australian government announces $6 million to improve accessibility at Deep Creek Conservation Park, Heysen Trail

KEEN: District Council of Yankalilla mayor Glen Rowlands and chief executive Nigel Morris are excitedly planning.
KEEN: District Council of Yankalilla mayor Glen Rowlands and chief executive Nigel Morris are excitedly planning.

The state government has announced a $6 million injection of funds for upgrades to the Heysen Trail and Deep Creek Conservation Park in the 2019-20 state budget.

South Australian Premier Steven Marshall said the government wanted to build environmentally-sustainable recreation and open spaces which everyone could enjoy, and funding for these sites on the Fleurieu Peninsula would encourage that.

"The Heysen Trail on the Fleurieu Peninsula takes in some of our most diverse and breathtaking landscapes and by upgrading facilities we will improve the user-experience and attract more visitors from around the state and across the country," Mr Marshall said.

"By investing more money in our parks, we will make these natural beauties more accessible for everyday South Australians and tourists alike."

The $6 million will be allocated over three years to upgrade the Heysen Trail from Cape Jervis to Deep Creek, and build a new facility for day visitors and a "universally accessible" walking trail at the conservation park, along with other campground and amenity upgrades.

He said work to both open up spaces and preserve them was "ensuring our state remains a great place to live and work, while also protecting the best of our natural heritage".

District Council of Yankalilla mayor Glen Rowlands and chief executive Nigel Morris were ecstatic about the funding announcement, saying it had been something the council had worked on with the community and the state government for some time.

"The whole place (council office) went berserk," Mr Rowlands said.

"We've been doing work with (local accommodation business owner) Cheryl Lush and a group of people. A lot of credit must go to Lisa Pearson, our tourism and events manager."

The council's vision is to create a walking trail and viewing platform at Goondooloo Ridge.

He said the council and state government is working on a trail where there is an old homestead, a beautiful view for star gazing, and a quiet place which they could make accessible for people with mobility issues.

"The vision is a three-night or four-night walk, with on-trail accommodation. Businesses would go in and cater for them," he said.

"We think there will be an easy sloping walk just above the Heysen Trail; it is difficult in some areas so we could make a slow gradient and add boardwalking."

Mr Morris said the council would make in-kind contributions to go with the upgrades through road upgrades and maintenance, and promotion and marketing.

This work would also be beneficial for locals, as the "roads will be at very high standards" and there would be "positive outcomes" for businesses in the area.

"Council is encouraging the state government to use local businesses to make an injection in the local economy," he said.

Mr Rowlands said with primary production being one of the district's "main economy drivers", this boost in tourism would be a welcome addition to local economy.

Minister for Environment and Water David Speirs said he had pushed for these community-driven projects for a long time, working with community members and council staff to optimise the ideas.

He said there was lots of interest in Deep Creek Conservation Park, including sights such Goondooloo Ridge and Blowhole Beach, due to the proximity to Adelaide.

"It's incredible; a gem in SA's landscape," he said.

"We see the investment as transformational, it will be a world-leading walk that businesses can hook onto."