A spectacular walkway through the treetops celebrated its first birthday today, after hosting nearly 40,000 exhilarated customers. Member for Mulgrave Curtis Pitt joined with representatives from Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service (QPWS), council, industry and community to celebrate the Walkway’s success on site.

“The $10 million Ma:Mu Rainforest Canopy Walk in Wooroonooran National Park near Innisfail had defied the downturn in tourism and the economy,” Mr Pitt said.

“By the end of July, more than 38,000 tourists from Australia and all over the world had been on the Walkway, generating more than $563,800 in revenue.

“In fact, July 2009 was the biggest month so far, and the way August is going, it’s going to be even bigger.

“We knew it was a great product when it opened, but visitors’ comments over the past year have really reinforced that. We can well and truly realise the vision of an iconic tourism destination.

“Visitors tell staff it’s a terrific experience and that it beats other Australian canopy walks hands down.”

Climate Change and Sustainability Minister Kate Jones said the Walkway’s route used natural clearings created by Cyclone Larry, with cyclone debris mulched for use around the site.

“The natural recovery processes are a big part of the interpretive signs and displays. Repeat visitors can see how quickly a rainforest regrow’s,” Ms Jones said.

“We expect more of those repeat visitors, as an annual pass will be launched on Monday. The pass is sure to be popular with locals who like to show off the Walkway to their visitors. A DVD and postcards will also be available from today.

“The annual ticket costs only double the single-visit ticket price. So pensioners and locals pay $16 or $32, adult non-locals pay $20 or $40, kids pay $10 or $20, and families can visit once for $50 or many times in a year for just $100.

“Another new product is special bookings for groups who want to visit out of hours to enjoy the wildlife and forest in early morning or late afternoon. This is a special offer for groups of 10 or more.”

The Walkway was officially opened on 24 August 2008 by Premier Anna Bligh. The QPWS started commercial operation of the Walkway the following day and will to continue as operator of the Ma:Mu Rainforest Canopy Walkway until 31 December 2012.

Mr Pitt said the project was a partnership between the Ma:Mu people and the Queensland Government.

“The QPWS worked closely with the Ma:Mu people to develop the Walkway in a culturally and environmentally sensitive way, and to provide long-term employment opportunities.

“As part of the partnership, the Ma:Mu people will receive 12 hectares next to the Walkway, to potentially develop a business venture.

“Next month we see the Ma:Mu Cultural and Heritage Exhibition on show for the entire region to embrace.

“Projects like this are not happening by accident. They are happening because of the good work and the leadership being displayed by Ma:Mu Elders. It is only through continued unity that this proud people will continue to go from strength to strength.

“Information about this world-class educational and interpretive facility has only gone into national and international travel brochures this year, so really 2009-10 will be its first full year of operation as a commercial tourism product.

“The first birthday celebration recognises the Walkway’s status as an important element of regional tourism in tropical north Queensland with visitor numbers and revenue expected to significantly increase over the next two years.”

Ma:Mu Rainforest Canopy Walk Facts

  • The spectacular tree-top walkway, the largest project ever undertaken in a Queensland national park, features a 2.2km forest walking track that links a 40m-high, 340m-long elevated walkway through the canopy with a 37m high observation tower.
  • It was built in the most environmentally sustainable way – minimising impacts not only during construction but for the life of the structure. Durable, environmentally-sustainable materials were used – from walkway decking, wall cladding and seats made from recycled plastic through to open unpainted galvanised steel. Solar panels supplement mains energy supply.
  • The facility is open year-round, weather permitting, and is wheelchair- and pram-friendly and accessible to people with a disability.
  • The Ma:Mu Rainforest Canopy Walkway is located in the Palmerston Section of the Wooroonooran National Park 1km east of Crawfords Lookout and 27 kilometres from the turnoff from the Bruce Highway. It’s 90 minutes’ drive from Cairns and 30 minutes from Innisfail.
  • It is open every day except Christmas Day or in extreme weather. Opening hours are 9.30am to 5.30pm with last entry at 4.30 pm.
  • To enjoy all sections of the walk and the interpretive display, visitors will need at least one and a half to two hours, and are also encouraged to bring a picnic and enjoy the grounds.
  • People living in the Cairns, Cassowary Coast and Tablelands Regional Council boundaries should bring proof of residency such as a drivers’ licence to take advantage of the 20 percent discount.

More information 4064 5294 or www.derm.qld.gov.au