Outback tourism in the Kimberley Region of Western Australia

John Collins

    Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

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    [Truncated abstract] Tourism is the second largest natural resource-based industry in the Kimberley Region of Western Australia. In approximate economic performance, tourism provides one third of the mining industry annual contributions to the Gross Regional Product and it is four times larger than the contribution of the pastoral industry. Tourism in the Kimberley has grown rapidly and without coordinated planning during the past two decades. As a result, growth has been uneven across the Region with some locations and/or tourism products growing rapidly while others have experienced decline. The rapid rise and decline of sectors has brought into question the extent to which the industry is sustainable in the long-term and the impacts various sectors are having in the environment on which they are dependent. Hence, the broad aim of this thesis was to investigate the characteristics of nature-based tourism in the Kimberley of Western Australia. More specific aims of the research were to evaluate the environmental impacts of the various forms of nature-based tourism practiced in the region. The project combined field survey techniques with desk-top studies of available tourism and visitor records to meet the research objectives. Several field surveys were completed. The first involved development of survey techniques to assess environmental impacts at remote bush camps accessed by four wheel drive, boat and aircraft. The techniques were trialled at Ningaloo on the Gascoyne Coast in June 2003. Second, structured questionnaires were presented to visitors to Faraway Bay, Purnululu and the Mitchell River between December 2001 and June 2005. The results of some environmental and questionnaire surveys could not be published, even in thesis form, due to a lack of a formal agreement with Traditional Landowners required to comply with University of Western Australia ethics approval. Third, field observations were made during a charter boat tour from Broome to Wyndham in May 2005. Fourth, visits were made to tourism centres and at the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area; Niagara Falls, Canada; and the Grand Canyon, USA to obtain data as well as interview managers and tourism operators. Visitor records collected and complied by Tourism Western Australia or other State government agencies for use by the tourism industry or for security purposes were incorporated in the analyses. The various forms of nature-based tourism in the Kimberley, ranging from passive scenic tours to hunting and fishing expeditions, are linked and limited by three modes of access. Characteristically, each of these modes-of-access impact the environment and may degrade the natural resources tourists want to experience and tourism operators wish to access. First, terrestrial access includes a wide range of tourism products with self-drive outback tourism the focus for this dissertation. It is limited by road availability and condition. Second, air-tourism is facilitated by the use of small fixed wing aircraft and helicopters that provide a range of tourism products including scenic flights, transport provision to remote bush camps, client transfer for marine tourism operators in remote locations and multi day air-safaris to selected destinations...
    Original languageEnglish
    QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
    Publication statusUnpublished - 2006


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