The investment to revitalise the Cape Naturaliste Lighthouse precinct has paid dividends with the tourist attraction experiencing a 230 per cent boost in visitation.
The experience at Cape Naturaliste Lighthouse has been dramatically improved following extensive renovations worth over $1 million, largely supported by the state government.
In the six months from July to December 2018, there were 40,000 visitors, up from 12,000 in the same period in the previous year.
Forecast visitation at Cape Naturaliste Lighthouse is expected to reach 100,000.
On Friday, January 18, Regional Development minister Alannah MacTiernan visited the icon to celebrate and officially opened the upgraded precinct.
Visitors can now enjoy panoramic ocean views from the new observation platform, refreshments from the restored lighthouse keeper’s cottage housing a brand-new café operated by Busselton’s popular restaurant The Goose, and a nautical themed playground.
Visitors to the site can also learn about the deep connection the Wadandi people have to the Cape to Cape region with Cape Cultural Tours.
Based at Cape Naturaliste, the business is the sister to award-winning Koomal Dreaming.
Ms MacTiernan praised the ‘absolutely exquisite project’ and the Margaret River Busselton Tourism Association’s foresight.
“I think the vision we have seen from the tourism association has been extraordinary. The vision to take these incredible properties, which had really fallen into disrepair, and putting together funding packages to have these beautiful sites restored, really, when you think of this region, it plays to all of your strengths,” she said.
“You’ve got the most magnificent landscape and natural assets, you've got fabulous heritage and magnificent hospitality, so in this redevelopment, it is really showcasing all those assets - it’s almost really like a perfect project.
“We were also really very pleased to see a facility built for cultural tours, there is absolutely no doubt that for us that keeping alive the understanding of this country is very important but it is also a major plank for tourism.
“The two things people from overseas are interested in most is our natural landscape and the opportunity to engage with indigenous culture, so the fact Josh (Whiteland – Koomal Dreaming and Cape Cultural Tours) is a part of this and adds immense value.
“So I just really want to shout out to the creativity of this project, for example, you’ve used the opportunity to deck out one of these cottages with historic furnishings, then use it to run restaurant from - that layering that we are seeing in this development, that layering of heritage, cultural, and food and wine tourism is an absolute testament to the organisation.”
Margaret River Busselton Tourism Association joint chief executive officer and group manager Steve Harrison said Cape Naturaliste Lighthouse represented a vital piece of the region's history and was a valuable draw for visitors.
“Preservation of the Margaret River region’s historical sites enhances the destination’s sustainability and reputation as a vibrant place to live and visit, supporting economic growth,” he said.
A new interactive interpretive centre, housed in the remaining lighthouse keepers’ cottage, is scheduled to open by November 2019.
The upgrade at Cape Naturaliste Lighthouse was part of the Margaret River Region Lighthouse Precincts Redevelopment Project, which also included upgrades at Cape Leeuwin Lighthouse. The state government contributed $1.5 million to the project.
A further $500,000 was contributed by Margaret River Busselton Tourism Association, and $200,000 was by the federal government through its Tourism Demand Driver Infrastructure fund.
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