FAST becoming a Cape York icon, Lakeland’s Gateway to the Cape was officially opened on Friday.
Since the iconic arches were erected at the site, thousands of tourists have stopped to have their picture taken to signal the start of their Cape York adventure.
But the Gateway is much more than just a photo-op for tourists.
Now complete, it boasts comprehensive visitor information, as well as a sculpture park that showcases each community in the region.
At Friday’s opening, Cook Shire mayor Peter Scott was joined by community members, artists and representatives from neighbouring councils and local government agencies.
“Lakeland marks the beginning of many Cape York adventures and is a significant tourist junction for the tourism drive market and four-wheel-drive adventurers,” he said.
“The Gateway gives vital tourism infrastructure to Lakeland that has been designed to be iconic, interactive, artistic, educational and inspirational.”
Cr Scott said an important aspect of the project was to highlight what makes the Cape so historically, culturally and ecologically unique and educate visitors as to what they can do to help us preserve and conserve this spectacular part of the world.
The information centre showcases the history and unique ecology of Cape York, while addressing environmental challenges including littering, fire, invasive plants and animals and the importance of respecting land owner’s rights.
The sculpture park features 16 artworks designed and developed by communities across the Cape.
The park has been designed in the shape of a map of Cape York, with the park’s footpaths symbolising the region’s iconic roads, and each sculpture reflecting the spirit of the community who designed it as well as the community’s geographic location on the map.
“With international travel restrictions easing, the official opening of the Gateway to Cape York heralds the beginning of what we know will be a sensational tourism season for the whole region,” said Cook Shire’s tourism and events manager Sally Eales.
“Iconic and very Instagram-able, the Gateway to Cape York makes Lakeland a must-see itinerary stop for everyone visiting or setting off to explore Cooktown and Cape York.”
The $1.2 million project was delivered with $998,000 from the state government’s Building our Regions program. Cook Shire Council contributed $290,000 and managed delivery of the project.
Member for Cook Cynthia Lui said the Building our Regions program supported the delivery of essential infrastructure across regional Queensland.
“The Gateway to Cape York is a great way to welcome tourists. I can’t wait to see many tourists travel through here and learn about these communities,” she said.