Collie's transformation into a recreation and adventure tourism hub continues, with Wellington National Park expanded by over 7,000 hectares and the completion of the first 15km stage of the region's new mountain bike trails network.
The national park expansion delivers on a McGowan Government election commitment and marks a key milestone under the ambitious Plan for Our Parks initiative.
The expanded Wellington National Park now covers 25,000 hectares, protecting high quality jarrah and marri forest and important habitat for a range of threatened and priority species.
The park attracts over 273,000 visitors annually and its expansion will provide additional opportunities for recreation, including mountain biking, bushwalking, camping, cultural education and adventure activities.
Keen mountain bikers will be able to enjoy newly opened Wellington National Park trails, with 15km of Stage 1 completed and opened.
The initiative will ultimately see 120km of new mountain bike trails, including further trails in Wellington National Park, Westralia Conservation Park, Arklow forest block and Collie.
Works on the Wambenger Trails initiative have also seen the completion of the brand new Kaneang Wiilman Bridge, a 90m suspended bridge within Westralia Conservation Park that offers breathtaking views over the Collie River.
The bridge will form a key part of the 72km five-day, four-night Wiilman Bilya Walk Trail, currently under construction around Wellington Dam.
The combination of an expanded park and the improved trail network provides opportunity for Collie to become a recognised 'trail town' - with quality trails, outdoor experiences, facilities and services such as accommodation, hospitality, visitor information and more.
Collie tourism has seen huge growth in recent years, with monthly visitors to the Collie Visitor Centre between March and September this year increasing 77 per cent since pre-pandemic levels.
In September 2,699 people checked in at the Collie Visitor Centre, compared to 1,126 people in September 2019 - a 140 per cent increase.
The first stages of works to improve facilities at Wellington Dam are also underway to better cater for growing visitation, including a re-alignment of Wellington Dam Road and the construction of expanded parking facilities, mural viewing points and a new kiosk building.
The State-wide Plan for Our Parks project aims to create five million hectares of new national parks, marine parks and other conservation reserves across the State by February 2024. There has already been over 350,000 hectares of new conservation land secured.
Comments attributed to Premier Mark McGowan
"Over the past four years my Government has worked hard to leverage Collie's incredible natural environment into new tourism and jobs opportunities for the region.
"Collie's transformation has been remarkable in this short time. Tourism is booming off the back of a number of local projects and there are a range of additional prospects in emerging industries.
"The expansion of Wellington National Park ensures the preservation of this pristine environment, while allowing its natural wonders to be enjoyed by more visitors, supporting tourism and local jobs.
Comments attributed to Environment Minister Amber-Jade Sanderson:
"I am proud to see another significant milestone achieved for the McGowan Government's ambitious Plan for Our Parks initiative.
"The McGowan Government values nature and culture-based tourism and is committed to ensuring these opportunities are designed to align with environmental values and the needs of our delicate and unique ecological systems.
"I look forward to the people of Western Australia getting out to Wellington National Park to enjoy the expanded recreational offerings and immerse themselves in our beautiful natural environment."
Comments attributed to Collie-Preston MLA Jodie Hanns:
"Collie's tourism transformation is incredible. In a few short years we have become a genuine must-see location for people seeking nature-based recreation and adventure experiences.
"This has translated into huge numbers of people passing through town and spending money at local businesses, supporting local jobs.
"This has spurred investment in new tourism and hospitality businesses, and the Wellington Park expansion and trails network will only fuel this exciting phase."