SHOULD THERE BE A TOLL TO PAY ON CAPE LEVEQUE ROAD?
Road works on Cape Leveque Road are well underway, as we observed on our trip up the Dampier Peninsula last week. And it seems like the peninsula is preparing for the predicted 40% rise in tourists, with many new campgrounds and tourism offerings opening up. But how will all of these visitors impact on the pristine nature of this region? Does a management plan need to be put in place now? Is a toll the way to go? Leave your comments below!
CAPE LEVEQUE ROAD
Cape Leveque Road begins 20km out of Broome and runs north for 220km to the tip of the Dampier Peninsula, ending at the community of Ardyaloon / One Arm Point. There are many indigenous communities and businesses up the Dampier Peninsula and the red dirt road has historically limited vehicles to 4×4’s. But, this is all going to change once the road has been sealed (expected completion 2021).
The $65m Broome Cape Leveque Road Upgrade Project is on track for completion in 2021. Construction and bitumen sealing of the 90km unsealed section of the road will be completed over the next year. Reconstruction of existing narrow sealed (~13km) section off Broome Road is planned for upgrade in 2021, including the upgrade of the intersection at Broome Road, subject to funds.
— Main Roads
SEALING THE ROAD
Last week we travelled the full length of Cape Leveque Road, right up to the tip of the peninsula. The road works are going full steam ahead and there is now a side road running alongside the main road (in parts) to travel on while the main part is being worked on. With visitation to the peninsula expected to increase by over 40% once the road has been completely sealed, there are new campgrounds and tourism businesses beginning to pop up. The expected increase in tourism numbers has also raised concerns about the management of the peninsula.
Broome-based environmental group Environs Kimberley has suggested a full social impact assessment of the road upgrade. In this article published by the ABC, EK Director Martin Pritchard said that the road could become the “road to Paradise Lost” unless more was done to protect “this jewel of Aboriginal culture and nature-based tourism on Broome’s doorstep”.
“”One idea is to charge a toll for non-local visitors. This would fund environmental management and more rangers.” Said Mr. Pritchard to the ABC.
After the ABC published this article in May 2019, the Kimberley Land Council was approved for funding (June 2019) for a 12-month project to support engagement between Traditional Owners and communities on the Dampier Peninsula, and the State Government, around impacts and opportunities from the sealing of the Cape Leveque Road. Per this statement on the KLC’s website, “The main priorities of the new project are to assist the Damper Peninsula Working Group to identify strategies, which will protect the unique environmental and cultural heritage values of the Dampier Peninsula and mitigate negative impacts of the sealing of the Cape Leveque Road on Traditional Owner interests.”