The second phase of the $1.8 million upgrade to Dorrigo National Park’s popular Wonga Walk has added a new dimension to one of Australia’s most popular rainforest walks.
Oxley Nationals member Melinda Pavey said the 100-million-year-old rainforest remains the main event, but sculptures like a wompoo fruit dove, eastern yellow robins and giant panda snails now add to the experience.
“More than 150,000 people visit Dorrigo National Park each year and this number will continue to rise as we position this park as a tourist hub on the north NSW coast,” said Ms Pavey.
“The upgraded Wonga Walk and Walk with the Birds will eventually link to the proposed $56 million Dorrigo Great Walk and Arc Rainforest project announced in this year’s NSW Budget and create an unforgettable visitor experience.
“The upgrade just completed includes remodeled, larger boardwalks and the addition of sculptures of rainforest species to encourage visitors to stop and take a closer look at their surroundings.”
The project is part of the largest investment by the NSW Government in the history of NSW National Parks, providing US$450 million for more than 200 visitor infrastructure projects across the state through 2024.
“This record investment will increase visitor numbers, create jobs and boost economic activity in regional communities across NSW and help our communities recover from drought, bushfires, floods and the pandemic,” Ms Pavey said.
National Parks and Wildlife Service Dorrigo Area Manager Glenn Storrie said the Wonga Walk project aims to provide a more engaging and immersive experience.
“Dorrigo National Park has the World Heritage-listed Gondwana Rainforest, 600-year-old trees, cascading waterfalls and now giant wompoo pigeons,” said Mr Storrie.
“The 18 sculptural installations, some enlarged and others life-size, are a novel and tangible way to enhance the overall experience and reach new potential park visitors who may be new to nature.
“Local artist Nick Warfield sculpted the Wompoo fruit dove from salvaged and recycled automotive plastics, while the 12 creatures were created from stainless steel by Tim Johnman.
“The Wonga Walk upgrade also improves accessibility and provides additional educational spaces along the route.
“These dedicated educational centers will allow guided school groups to move away from the busy thoroughfare and will result in an expanded program offering from the NPWS educational staff.
“Completed in time for the school holidays, we can’t wait for visitors to linger longer and see a different side of the rainforest.”