An 850m-long rooftop loop walk is a stunning new feature of stage one of a $1.8m upgrade to the Naracoorte Caves National Park World Heritage area.
The rooftop walk links the Wonambi Fossil Centre with the Bat Observation Centre, Bat Cave and Blanche Cave, allowing visitors to view highlights from a platform that is accessible to wheelchairs and prams.
Naracoorte Caves manager Deborah Carden said the rooftop walk was much needed for accessibility reasons.
“Prior to this walk being here the only places in that category could go to was the cafe, fossil centre or the bat centre and now they can go right around the park and see into the caves,” Mrs Carden said.
State Sustainability, Environment and Conservation minister Ian Hunter said the new rooftop loop walk was a great drawcard and would make it easier for more people to enjoy the caves.
“The new trail is more accessible, allowing people who use wheelchairs and walkers, families with small children and people who cannot go underground to experience this natural gem,” Mr Hunter said.
The state and federal governments contributed a combined $450,000 to the project through the Tourism Demand Driver Infrastructure Program.
Mr Hunter said the Naracoorte Caves World Heritage Area was one of SA’s great nature-based attractions and said similar upgrades will be the focus in supporting such tourism in the region.
“Developments like this are what we’re aiming for in supporting nature-based tourism, and this one is great news for the South East economy as it expands its reputation as a tourist centre,” he said.
The rooftop loop walk project was also a chance to support local business, with Naracoorte-based Bull Bros carrying out the work.
“The intention is that it does increase tourism,” Mrs Carden said. “It opens up an ability for a new market group and that leads to more people staying here longer, staying in town longer.”
Stage two of the upgrades is expected to start soon and will include observation platforms to view the caves, renovations to the fossil centre foyer, enhanced lighting and new interpretation panels.