Minister visits Naracoorte Caves

Minister for Environment and Water David Speirs and Member for MacKillop met with the Friends of the Naracoorte Caves on Wednesday.
Minister for Environment and Water David Speirs and Member for MacKillop met with the Friends of the Naracoorte Caves on Wednesday.

There may be some new projects on the horizon at the Naracoorte Caves after Minister for Environment and Water David Speirs stopped by to chat with the Friends of the Naracoorte Caves on Wednesday.

Mr Speirs sat down for afternoon tea with the Friends of the Naracoorte Caves and took suggestions about other projects that could benefit the Caves and the wider community.

Executive Director of Parks and Wildlife Services Mike Williams said it was a great opportunity for The Friends of the Naracoorte Caves to let the minister know what they would like to see at the Caves.

"They'd like to see some more promotion of the camping area and the trails developed and some additional work for the young people in the area," he said

"They also talked to the minister about the fact that the parks in the region drive economic activity, because people come and visit and that's important for the local community.

"These places are providing a hub for people to come together as friends and bring their children, do some walking, riding and camping and all those things are what the Parks and Wildlife service are trying to promote in the community and across South Australia.

"It was fantastic for the friends to be able to talk to the minister about that and we will follow up on those suggestions, see where we can get to as a community and see if we can develop some ideas. We'll work with the minister on how we can address some of the issues that were raised here."

Mr Speirs said he loved the suggestions the Friends of the Naracoorte Caves put forward.

"I wanted to specifically catch up with the Friends because I wanted an opportunity to sit down and celebrate them, and also hear what they thought about how we can manage the site going forward," he said

"I thought the suggestions were great and I've asked the Parks and Wildlife service to go away and investigate some of them. Their suggestions were modest in many ways and I think they believe, like me, that the caves are a destination in themselves and they actually don't need a lot of additional infrastructure.

"What they were interested in was opportunities for walking and cycling trails, particularly for the broader conservation park - we always think of the caves as being the destination, but there is a very beautiful conservation park which wraps around there with great environmental significance that compliments the geological and archaeological site.

"It's hundreds of hectares, so to have a network of walking trails through that, and to connect council owned and government owned land would be great."

He said the government was looking at ways to support the caves and other Limestone Coast attractions.

"We are looking at a whole range of opportunities at the moment, we have increased the number of rangers working in the region as part of our commitment to arrange a workforce and so Friends groups that I met with while I was down there have been very encouraged by that," he said.

"There is more support for our Friends groups and our environmental organisations and there is also a new grants round that has just been announced, called the Grassroots Grants that were created through legislation in the Landscape Act.

"There is a real opportunity for not-for-profits, for councils and for Friends groups to get their hands on a little bit of money to get things happening."