COMMENT: Investment welcome, if it’s well managed

Any investment in Eden, or the entire Far South Coast for that matter, is surely welcome provided it is directed appropriately and managed effectively.

Picture: Light to Light Camps

Picture: Light to Light Camps

With the dollars we’re seeing in recent weeks it’s fair to say there are plenty of smiling faces around at the moment.

(And that there’s a state election in the wind!)

There’s been $7.4million for Twyford Theatre in Merimbula and this week $8million has been announced for further developing the Light to Light Walk along the Ben Boyd National Park coastline south of Eden.

There’s much to be positive about with the announcement – creating a “world-class” multi-day walk with “eco-friendly accommodation options” en route (read: log huts?); ongoing employment opportunities; and further exposure of our patch of paradise to the wider tourism economy.

However, there is some caution with that optimism. Not least of which due to it being a week out from a state budget announcement and inside of 12 months for a state election.

Perhaps moreso because millions thrown at community projects by government doesn’t always hit its mark with locals on the ground.

Tourism operators along the Light to Light have received the news with cautious optimism. They are absolutely keen to see investment in the region, provided proper consultation takes place and what develops is in keeping with the community’s needs and wants.

It’s all well and good for the state government to say it will invest $630million into NSW national parks “to protect and improve the state’s environment and heritage” – $8million of that into the Light to Light.

However, this is the same government that has been gutting the National Parks and Wildlife Service with the loss of countless years of expertise in fire risk management and on the ground staff (surely those extra hands would also “protect and improve the state’s environment and heritage”?)

Having had experience on some of Tasmania’s spectacular wilderness hikes, I’ve seen the benefit of a commitment to providing national parks visitors with quality infrastructure, informative signage and ongoing upkeep of the trails – many of which are in some pretty rugged remote terrain.

Let’s hope this latest announcement of investment in Eden includes thought for what comes after the initial dollars and build.