-Commercial accommodation could blight a park’s glorious pagoda landscapes-

Thursday May 2, 2024


Yesterday the NPWS advertised a 31 day public exhibition of an intention to lease three commercial accommodation sites to Wild Bush Luxury, a subsidiary of Experience Co. The lease proposal is for three sites with six cabins and a common lounge building at each site set in a spectacular rocky pagoda landscape in the Gardens of Stone State Conservation Area1. 


“The proposed developments would turn the NPWS tourism sustainability guidelines on their head. Instead of the commercial development being located on disturbed sites as per the guidelines, these commercial accommodation developments are located among pristine, spectacular pagoda spurs that even coal miners wouldn’t harm”, said Keith Muir, Hon. Project Officer for Wilderness Australia and its former exec officer of 30 years experience. 


Mr Muir said “The lease document reads like a sales brochure. The document hides commercial development with a fantastic description of the Gardens of Stone walk that’s not part of the accommodation lease and distracts the reader with wonderful descriptions of adventure. Then buzzwords seek to convince the reader its “an iconic walking experience”; “a major drawcard”; “a signature visitor experience of international standing”; “an immersive walking experience”; and “partnering with tourism leaders will enable NPWS to continue delivering world-class infrastructure.”


Choice doesn’t do product reviews of park development, but my expert analysis of the proposal is that: 

The NPWS is spending millions of dollars on a walk that benefits Experience Co, who’s binned the tourism sustainability guidelines and picked the eyes out of wild, rocky pagoda scenery for three accommodation developments. 


“The NPWS is supposed to protect pagoda landscapes in the Gardens of Stone, not facilitate development of delicate geodiversity. 

“Environment Minister, Penny Sharpe, stopped the Lost City development in November last year2 that would have impacted on the Lost City pagodas. 

Mr Muir said that “Minister Sharpe should avoid being inconsistent, uphold park standards and protect stunning pagoda landscapes by rejecting this commercial lease proposal in the Gardens of Stone State Conservation Area.”


For more information: Keith Muir, mob 0412971404
1 See pages 16, 17 and 18 in Proposal to grant a lease under section 151 of the National Parks and Wildlife Act 1974 report showing locations, and proposed facilities pp 19-24.
2Minister Penny Sharpe, Media Statement, Gardens of Stone, Friday 3 November, 2023.

Artists impression of cabins in a pagoda landscape
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