10 May 2023

Tip of Cape York unlikely to be closed

| Matt Nicholls
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A SCARE campaign driven by the Cairns Post to deter tourists from visiting Cape York will fall flat after Traditional Owners said they did not want to close the Tip to southern visitors.

However, tourism operators are asking for strong leadership on the matter to make sure that both the Tip is kept open and that better facilities are created to cater for the growth in visitor numbers.

Punsand Bay camp ground owner Rod Colquhoun said he agreed with Traditional Owners that there needed to be better facilities at the entry to the Tip, which attracts thousands of tourists each year.

“Already we have had 50 cancellations of accommodation and numerous phone calls about the closure of the Tip,” he said.

“If it is closed for any length of time there would be a big economic loss for everybody, including the local council which will lose thousands of dollars on the Jardine River ferry.”

Mr Colquhoun took aim at Michael Solomon, the chairman of Gudang/Yadhaykenu Aboriginal Corporation, who was the only source quoted by the Cairns Post.

“What gives him the right to cause huge disruption to tourists from across Australia,” he said.

In an interview, Mr Solomon confirmed the closure was about money.

“People love to go to the Tip of Australia (but) we don’t see any money,” he said.

Several Traditional Owners spoke with Cape York Weekly last week to say that Mr Solomon did not represent their views.

Several NPA businesses would close if there was not an annual tourist season, ultimately hurting the communities.

NPA mayor Patricia Yusia said the council had not been notified of any closures.

“We, in the Northern Peninsula Area have always welcomed tourists to our communities,” she said.

“The council has an agreement in place with the Traditional Owners through the Apudthama Land Trust to allow access to Apudthama land.

“We acknowledge the majority of tourists are respectful of the environment and the traditional lands when they visit the area but would like to remind all visitors to continue to do that.

“My council has not yet received any advice or correspondence from Gudang/Yadhaykenu.”

Loyalty Beach camp ground owner Patsy Lennox called on Member for Cook Cynthia Lui to get a guarantee from Traditional Owners that the Tip wouldn’t be closed without notice.

“We need a leader to sort this mess out,” she said.

“There’s no objection to putting in toilets and a car park, I think everyone can understand that, but we can’t have it closed.”

Ms Lennox said everyone in the NPA relied on tourism, whether they knew it or not.

“We’re getting a lot of people ring up and cancel based on a story which I don’t think is true,” she said.

“It’s really upset a lot of people but as far as I know people will still be able to go to the Tip.

“But we need to get it sorted before more people get scared off from coming. We’re expecting a massive year for tourism.”

Long-time Cape York tourism operator John Charlton said there were positives to the story, even if it wasn’t true.

“It brings attention to the fact that the whole place up here has been subject to huge amount of visitation and no real infrastructure to support it,” he said.

“I feel like (the Traditional Owners) don’t know how to go about lobbying to get the support and funding that’s required to provide those amenities.”

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said the state government would happily have the conversation.

“We are always happy to talk to anyone looking for further amenities, we’re very happy to get those discussions going as soon as possible,” she said last week.

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