It started as a destination for elite, exotic, even opulent adventurers.
It maintains an image of grandness of pleasure and place.
It has ...
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YARRABAH, near Cairns, is touting a $250 million cruise ship terminal and Aboriginal cultural precinct in a bold plan to cash in on indigenous tourism.
Australia's biggest Aboriginal township is the latest to make a multimillion dollar pitch to become a tourism hotspot.
The plan proposes an $80 million cruise ship jetty, an 18-hole golf course and country club and a private villa estate on 250ha of parkland, pristine coastal sand dunes and forest.
It also would feature an indigenous cultural village with dancers, bush tucker and bark huts.
The Courier-Mail yesterday revealed Premier Campbell Newman wants strife-torn Palm Island, off Townsville, to be the state's next tourist destination.
Mr Newman has ordered State Cabinet to help Palm Island and the state's other indigenous councils drive tourism and economic development, according to briefing notes obtained by The Courier-Mail in a Right to Information request.
Yarrabah, a former mission, population 3200, has spent $100,000 on a business case study to help develop the community into the nation's peak indigenous tourism experience and hopes to secure a further $200,000 in funding for a master plan.
Community representatives have been lobbying the state and federal governments as part of a plan to take the $250 million project to private developers and cruise ship operators. The vision also depends on the council being granted freehold over the trust lands.
"Tourism is the key to linking the past, present and the future,'' Yarrabah Mayor Errol Neal said yesterday.
"Ultimately it is about us coming up with a plan to get off the welfare treadmill.''
Yarrabah, an hour's drive from Cairns, has wide sandy beaches, rainforest-covered mountains and borders the turquoise waters of the Great Barrier Reef.
It also ranked in the last census as Queensland's most disadvantaged area, with unemployment of 80 per cent and high crime.
Cairns will host the annual Cruise Down Under conference in September, when Cr Neal hopes to make his pitch to cruise executives.
State Indigenous Affairs Minister Glen Elmes said he had visited the Wungu beach site on the southern side of the township, overlooking Fitzroy Island.
"I applaud the council's initiative, and will support them where I can to realise their dream,'' said Mr Elmes.
"As with any such project, the initiative will have to stack up as a commercial enterprise.
"I'll be happy to facilitate access for the mayor to appropriate ministers and relevant commercial entities such as cruise companies and tourism operators where I can.
"It's a big dream for a small community like Yarrabah, but the community is situated in a pristine environment adjacent to one of Australia's most popular tourist destinations."
Cruise giants are heading Down Under for bumper summer season.
The biggest ship in our waters will be Cunard's glamorous Queen Mary 2. At 151,400 tonnes and 345 metres long she remains the largest vessel to ever come here. For the first time, all three Cunard ships - Queen Mary 2, Queen Elizabeth and Queen Victoria - will be in Australia during the same season when they visit during February and March.