Cape York destinations shut to tourists

·2-min read

Traditional custodians in Cape York have closed down some of the area's biggest tourist destinations citing a lack of amenities, off-track tourists and unregistered firearms as major concerns.

In the Northern Peninsula Area in far north Queensland, Indigenous custodians have faced dwindling facilities at tourist spots across Pajinka (the Tip), Ussher Point and Captain Billy's landing.

The washroom amenities are inoperable and locals have decided to close off tourists spots because their land is being disrespected.

Michael Solomon, chairman of the Gudang/Yadhaykenu Aboriginal Corporation, says it's insulting that locals and volunteers have to clean up the mess left by tourists defecating in bushland.

"What we want is the facilities to be fixed and upgraded at Ussher Point, Captain Billy's landing and Pajinka because people are defecating in the bushland scrub and locals have to clean up and live through it," he said.

"It's insulting to us, and having discussed with traditional custodians we have decided to close the country to tourists.

"Local people, volunteers, they clean up. But I would prefer to have proper facilities for safety purposes."

For years, tourists have been a welcome aspect to the community in the region but the disrespect to the land has traditional custodians saying enough.

Native title holders were granted freehold rights to 211ha of land at Pajinka in 2019 but pleas for upgrades have been ongoing since 2016.

"We don't want to shut out the tourists, we make money from them, making artefacts and showcasing our region," Mr Solomon said.

"This closure is good for us, we are doing the Pajinka clean up this year and it gives us time to fix everything."

Mr Solomon added the amenities are the responsibility of the NPA Regional Council, and while the mayor and CEO have been written too there's been no response so far.

Other safety concerns include the firearms tourists bring in and whether they are registered with local police, as well as COVID-19 awareness and the dangers posed to Indigenous communities.

"Our elders have been worried because of previous cases in Cairns, in the south and all over, we don't know where these tourists are coming from and what they may bring with them," he said.

"Tourists come with their pig dogs and hunt, we don't know where they're hunting or if their guns are registered with the Bamaga police."

Comment is being sought from the NPA Regional Council.