A major aspect of Eden’s cultural history has received a significant economic boost, with the Eden Local Aboriginal Land Council receiving $629,350 in NSW Government funding to develop the iconic Bundian Way Tourist Trail around Twofold Bay.
The money comes as a result of a successful application by the Eden LALC for funding under the ClubGRANTS Category 3 funding scheme.
The announcement was made on Friday by Treasurer and Member for Bega Andrew Constance, and Minister for Hospitality, Gaming and Racing Troy Grant.
Bundian Way manager Noel Whittem says the funds will go into developing the trail to a standard that meets health and safety regulations, with the primary focus to be placed on the section between Snug Cove and Fisheries Beach (Bilgalera), particularly from Cocora Beach to Oman Point.
The ancient Aboriginal pathway runs from Mount Kosciuszko (Targangal) to Fisheries Beach, but Mr Whittem says this section will be used more heavily than the remainder of the trail.
“It’s very welcome news for us, and we’re very thankful to Andrew Constance, Troy Grant and the NSW Government for their support,” Mr Whittem said.
“This puts us in a position to finish that section of the track by the end of 2015, just prior to the cruise ships coming in to the Port of Eden, which is great.
“The project will link and formalise existing trails around Twofold Bay to a high standard to tell the story of the Bundian Way, providing access to cruise ship visitors, other visitors and local residents.
“This particular section is our current focus, as the remainder of the trail will be much more of a primitive experience.”
The wider project has been developed over several years by the Bundian Way advisory committee, in conjunction with the Eden LALC, local Aboriginal elders, and various government agencies.
Mr Whittem said local Aboriginal workers recently finished work on the initial stages of the new tourist trail, which was funded by a $70,000 Indigenous Heritage Program (IHP) grant.
He said the basic trackwork is now in place, with drainage and the construction of a viewing platform at Oman Point a few of the other jobs that need to be complete before it is opened.
“This also helps us to continue providing meaningful employment and training for local Aboriginal people,” he said.
“Qualified tradespeople will be carrying out the work, and we plan on having local Aboriginal people working with them to learn new skills.
“There will also be opportunities in tour guiding, storytelling, Aboriginal arts, and ranger work.”
Mr Constance says the opportunity to engage the local Aboriginal community, and to increase understanding and respect for an important cultural area was too good to refuse.
“The completed trail will revitalise the history and culture of the area, providing not only a beautiful walk, but culture and history for visitors and locals alike,” Mr Constance said.
“The NSW Liberals and Nationals Government is proud to support projects that encourage community participation and employment opportunities for the local community.
“Once complete the $708,450 project will transform the Bundian Way Tourist Trail into an iconic cultural walk and as a pathway known to pass through a very special place of great beauty and cultural heritage.”
Minister for Hospitality, Gaming and Racing, Troy Grant, agreed and said this project stood out as one that would be of great importance to the local community.
“The Grant Assessment Committee said this was a unique project with considerable potential to provide employment and training opportunities for local Aboriginal people, while enriching the community through education and understanding of the Aboriginal culture and history of the area,” he said.