Australia’s Horizontal Falls boat passages will end by 2028 for conservation – Travel And Tour World

In a landmark decision by the Western Australian government, the iconic Horizontal Falls in the Kimberley region will no longer permit tourists to navigate through its narrow gorges by boat starting March 2028. This move aims to achieve a harmonious balance between tourism activities and environmental conservation at one of the region’s most spectacular natural attractions.

The falls, known for the dramatic rush of seawater between two closely situated gorges during tidal movements, have been a major draw for adventure-seeking tourists. The decision to phase out boat passages through these gorges has been met with approval from the area’s Traditional Owners, emphasizing the government’s commitment to preserving the site’s cultural and environmental integrity.

To compensate for this change, Tourism Minister Rita Saffioti announced plans to collaborate with local tourism operators and Traditional Owners to introduce new tourism experiences at Horizontal Falls. These initiatives are part of a broader effort to enhance visitor offerings in national parks while ensuring sustainable public access.

The debate over the sustainability of boat tours through the falls was sparked by a May 2022 incident where a jet boat accident resulted in numerous injuries. Following this, Horizontal Falls Seaplane Adventures, the marine park’s largest tour operator, has been allowed to continue operations until its license expires in 2028, with all other licensed operators ceasing their tours by the end of 2026.

Environment Minister Reece Whitby reassured that visitor access and tourism would continue to be prioritized in the marine park’s management. The Dambimangari Aboriginal Corporation (DAC) expressed its support for the government’s decision, highlighting the importance of protecting cultural heritage at Garaan-ngaddim (Horizontal Falls) and acknowledging the respectful dialogue with tourism operators and the government.

DAC’s statement draws parallels with the decision to prohibit climbing Uluru, expressing hope that over time, the public will respect and understand the need to prioritize cultural heritage and safety. This transition offers a unique opportunity for storytelling and engaging with Traditional Owners, providing travelers with authentic and meaningful experiences.

The government’s commitment to developing new tourism experiences is seen as a positive step towards minimizing the impact on the community and ensuring that the Kimberley region remains a compelling destination for visitors seeking to explore Australia’s natural beauty and cultural heritage.

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