DUDLEY TRAIL MASTER PLAN
The proposed Dudley Trail is a 3-day/2-night 38km walking trail that links Penneshaw on the Dudley Peninsula to Cape Willoughby Lighthouse, South Australia's oldest lighthouse. It is a predominantly coastal walk and will become Kangaroo Islands' first Public Private partnership trail, which will traverse Conservation Parks, coastal reserves and private land.
Through the Regional Recovery Partnerships program, $4 million in funding has been committed to:
- upgrades to the Cape Willoughby visitor experience, and
- the development of the Dudley Trail, Stage 1 delivery of a Master Plan, and Stage 2 construction of the first 15km and visitor nodes.
The Department of Environment and Water (DEW) has engaged the Kangaroo Island Tourism Alliance (KITA) to deliver Stage 1.
Dudley Trail Working Group
KITA has formed a Working Committee, the Dudley Trail Working Group (DTWG), which comprises the following members:
- Pierre Gregor - DTWC Chair, KITA Deputy Chair
- Megan Harvie - DTWC Project Manager, KITA Regional Tourism Manager
- Meg Barker - Department of Environment and Water
- Miranda Lang - South Australian Tourism Commission
- Ian Hart - Kangaroo Island Council
- Alison Buck - District Ranger, National Parks and Wildlife Service SA
- Alana Binns - Commercial Tourism Manager, National Parks and Wildlife Service SA
- Jayne Bates - Penneshaw Progress Association
- David Mepham - Friends of Dudley Parks
- John Greenslade - Landowner
- Jeff Howard - Landowner
- John Matheson - Stakeholder
- Hugh Rischbieth - Community
The process to date
The DTWC appointed TRC Tourism to undertake the Master Planning and deliver the plan by 30 June 2023. This planning is being led by Chris Halstead (below) who has more than 25 years of experience in planning, trail development, and eco-tourism. He is known for developing trails, outdoor-active and nature-based experiences that provide positive economic and well-being outcomes for their communities. Chris has a long-time connection to Kangaroo Island, managing the Flinders Chase National Park before taking up mainland park management roles and Trail and Recreation planning and development.
Upon appointment, the TRC Tourism team provided insights into overnight walking data, trends, and what makes a great trail. They also facilitated a Co-design workshop with the DTWG where the potential alignment was discussed, SWOT analysis completed, development of the vision and guiding principles, and discussion around trail management and governance.
The Dudley Trail becomes South Australia’s best signature walking experience connecting the special values of coastal landscapes through extraordinary and unique adventures to link locals and visitors to unique Kangaroo Island wildlife, hospitality, and rural landscapes.
The special biodiversity values are supported by strong environmental protections, visitor awareness, high-quality trail design, build, and solid maintenance.
Strong community-driven governance provides sustainability and drives innovation contributing to business opportunity, investment, local employment, community pride, and the jump-off point for new Kangaroo Island trails and adventures.
Guiding Principles for the trail and the trail landscape
Trail infrastructure will be high quality, purpose built delivering exciting and rewarding experiences to suit a range of users. The trail links Penneshaw to Cape Willoughby as a through trail or as a step on step off experience with connections to camping, accommodation, food, and wine promoting existing and future Kangaroo Island tourism and hospitality opportunities.
The trail has broad appeal for a diverse range of people and is designed and constructed mostly to a Grade 3 trail classification suitable for most ages and fitness levels. The trail may have short steep sections, rough surfaces, and many steps. Some short sections may be very steep and the whole trail will be longer than 20km which corresponds to a Grade 4 Trail.
As the trail's final grade is based on the most difficult of the five trail grading criteria, rather than an average of them all, the trail will be classed as Grade 4.
The trail will be financially, socially, and environmentally sustainable. The trail will have a minimal environmental impact and will contribute to regional biodiversity through user awareness, interpretation, and education and will support ecosystem regeneration and recovery.
The endangered coastal raptor species the White-bellied Sea Eagle and Eastern Osprey, foraging Glossy Black Cockatoos, threatened plant communities and marine mammals will be symbolic of the trail. Trail planning, development, maintenance, and monitoring will be undertaken in partnership with DEW, experts, and the Kangaroo Island conservation community with a strong focus on protecting Kangaroo Island’s iconic wildlife, a significant feature of this trail.
Land managers, private landowners, and local businesses will be encouraged to connect with the appeal of the trail. The Dudley Peninsula community will be encouraged to work together to deliver this unique signature Kangaroo Island trail experience. The trail will develop strong partnerships reflected in the establishment of a high-functioning, mature governance and management model to provide the leadership, coordination, and drive for the operation, marketing, management, sustainability, and financial viability of the trail.
Contemporary storytelling will reflect the unique Backstairs Passage coastline and offshore islands' stories and perspectives. There is a commitment to recognising First Nations people’s histories and culture, acknowledging a shared history, and supporting the Ngarrindjeri and Ramindjeri interests on Country. The interpretation of Kangaroo Island’s landscapes, seascapes, and skies must incorporate the First Nations stories. The trail development will contribute to the creative sector by supporting Indigenous artists and creators of stories and to the tourism sector by providing opportunities for the business of Indigenous storytellers and storytelling.
The success of the trail will be reflected through the Kangaroo Island Brand and as South Australia Signature Walking Experiences driven by effective and coordinated marketing and promotion optimising visitor response and uptake of the trail experience.
The trail will be staged enabling the managed progression of the trail product with Stage 1 providing the template for Stage 2 and additional linkages to complete the Dudley Traill. The completed trail and the governance and management model will provide a new approach to facilitating recreation and visitor experiences on Kangaroo Island’s Crown Lands, public lands, and shared sections of private lands
The unique nature of the trail will be the driver for the local economy and will cultivate and grow tourism, hospitality, accommodation, and farm experiences where locals are actively involved in generating and boosting experiences by providing services and products linked to the trail increasing local employment and community pride.
The objectives of the Dudley trail
The objectives are to:
- Develop the Dudley Trail as the Signature South Australian accessible trail experience.
- Deliver trail and adventure experiences and services to meet the needs of the locals and visitor market that encourage people to visit and stay longer.
- Develop an expert leadership-based governance and management model that incorporates land managers, private landowners, and businesses to ensure a sustainable leadership, marketing, and management approach that ensures success.
- Secure public and private sector investment to develop the trail whilst concurrently developing the sustainable management model to provide the leadership for the future of the trail.
- The Dudley Trail and future linked trail experiences are delivered and resourced through innovative management models that minimising future impacts on the community and ratepayers.
- Protect Kangaroo Island’s iconic wildlife that will be a significant feature of the trail through highly effective trail planning, development, maintenance, and monitoring linked to strong partnerships with DEW, experts, and the Kangaroo Island conservation community.
what has been decided?
The DTWG has made a recommendation to the Department of Environment and Water regarding Stage 2 construction. That recommendation is the Antechamber Bay Day Visitor area to Cape Willoughby Visitor Centre.
After considerable discussion, there were significant constraints at play; restrictive timelines, budgetary, and uncertainty regarding landowner support.
The DTWG has also made a recommendation to the Department of Environment and Water (DEW) regarding business models and land tenure arrangements. That is DEW takes the lead with an interim management model, with a consultative committee in place, until the final business model is in place.
What we want you to know
Our landowners are the most important piece in this project, and consultation with them is ongoing. We have heard about their concerns such as public liability insurance, biosecurity, keeping on track, emergency egress, bushfire safety, and leasing/licensing. We are working on these solutions and will be in communication regularly.
There are parcels of coastal crown land that have been identified to be used for the trail. We are working with the Crown Lands Department and Kangaroo Island Council regarding licensing arrangements for these parcels.
The Business Model under which the trail will operate is under consideration by the DTWG. They are investigating other models that exist across Australia and New Zealand. It will take some time to have the business model implemented and will not be ready for the first part of the trail build by the end of 2023. There has been a recommendation to DEW for an interim arrangement with the business model, which is now being investigated by all parties.
Public Liability and Licensing
Public Liability and Licensing arrangements are also being investigated by DEW. The DTWG will continue to work with all stakeholders on the best solutions for the operation of the trail and work towards implementation.
Advice has been sought from DEW in regard to bushfire risk reduction. Advice is being considered for the design and construction of the trail and will be linked to bushfire risk to walkers and risk to built assets. At this early stage, CFS has not yet been engaged.
The proposed trail concept includes the construction of 2 low-impact walk-in campgrounds, one between Cuttlefish Bay and Dudley Wines, and one within the Lashmar Conservation Park. This could include:
- timber or earthen tent pads
- shelter with seating, benches, sink with untreated rainwater, hooks and solar-powered USB charging ports
- waterless toilets
- rainwater tanks
See the Wild South Coast Way for examples of similar infrastructure.
Walking data provided to the DTWG showed that walkers prefer not to co-locate camping with vehicle camping and need to be located approximately 15 km apart for day walking.
Raptors, Glossies, and other important environmental things
The DTWG has a commitment to best practices when it comes to environmental impact.
We are aware of two White Belly Sea Eagle nests within the vicinity of the trail. A Coastal Raptor Assessment is planned, and that advice will guide the refinement of the trail.
A Native Veg approval will be required and is planned for during the detailed design phase.
Advice from DEW has been sought regarding Glossy Black Cockatoo foraging areas and other important environmental areas including rare plants.