The western end of Kangaroo Island was heavily affected by the bushfires. 96 per cent of Flinders Chase National Park and the adjoining Ravine des Casoars Wilderness Protection Area was burnt, and 98 per cent of Kelly Hill Conservation Park was burnt.
Before the bushfires, Flinders Chase attracted over 120,000 visitors each year – at peak times up to 1000 visitors a day. While the parks have opened up again for guided tours to Remarkable Rocks, Admirals Arch and Cape de Couedic lighthouse, it will be some time before Flinders Chase is open to full public access again to give the fragile bushfire-affected environment time and space to regenerate, and allow for continued clean-up and rebuilding works.
Across our western Kangaroo Island parks - Flinders Chase National Park, Kelly Hill Conservation Park, Ravine de Casoars and Cape Bouguer Wilderness Protection Areas and Cape Borda - we now have an opportunity to reimagine what a world-class and authentic Kangaroo Island parks visitor experience could look like across these sites in the future.
This is not just about facilities and infrastructure – it’s also about supporting community aspirations, wildlife and ecological recovery, environmental protection and the local economy.
This once in a lifetime planning opportunity will involve community and stakeholders in a wide-reaching and collaborative process the outcomes of which will be a vision, key themes, guiding principles, opportunities summary and design brief for the connected parks and wilderness areas at the Western end of Kangaroo Island.
The first phase of engagement involved focus group session. These were about big picture, visionary ideas and guiding principles – not decision-making. We wanted to gather insights about what park users, stakeholders and visitors would potentially like to see in future, identify parameters and issues for consideration and understand likely benefits and interrelationships with the local community, economy and environment. Representatives from stakeholder groups including, but not limited to, Friends of Parks, tourism operators, primary producers, local businesses, park visitors, local parks staff and more have participated in a series of focus group sessions to reimagine the visitor experience across both the western Kangaroo Island parks and Seal Bay. We have also held one on one and small group meetings and held drop-in sessions.
Following the focus group sessions, two Community Reference Groups will be established (one for the western Kangaroo Island parks, one for Seal Bay) with membership comprising a representative cross-section of focus group participants. These Community Reference Groups will work through and refine the ideas raised and the key themes we have heard from community and stakeholders through our engagement activities to date. The end product will be two documents – one for the Western end Kangaroo Island parks and one for Seal Bay - that summarise a vision, key themes, guiding principles and a preliminary design brief.
Community Reference Group sessions will be held in September/October. Summary findings will be shared here.
For those who have been unable to catch up with the team in person (noting also that we have some limitations on participant numbers as a result of COVID-19) the online survey remains open.