The draft Thomson River masterplan designed by Urbis.
The draft Thomson River masterplan designed by Urbis.

Huge plan to transform Longreach river into tourism mecca

A river boardwalk, adventure play area, eco-lodges, inflatable water park and Indigenous heritage trail are just some of the features of a draft master plan for Longreach’s Thomson River.

Developed by world leading planning and design firm Urbis, who were behind the award-winning Rockhampton Riverfront Revitalisation, the master plan is now available for public comment.

Longreach Regional Council began planning for the project in 2020 with the aim to develop a long-term vision for the future development of the Thomson River precinct in Longreach.

It is hoped the project will be funded from grant funding and private investment.

The master plan aims to provide new and improved recreation activities for the local community and attract more visitors to Longreach by enhancing the tourism potential of the river.

The master plan precinct is set on 12km along the Thomson River from the Fairmount Weir to the Town Weir.

The main focus of the plan is the 4km stretch of the river from Apex Park towards Fairmont Weir.

“The Thomson River is a unique natural asset located just a few kilometres from the Longreach township,” the master plan reads.

“The river is truly loved by its locals for recreational activities, be it boating, fishing, swimming, water sports or just to relax by the water.

“A popular camp site sits adjacent the river, attracting thousands of visitors each year, however currently there are no real services or facilities along the river bank for people to use.”

Nearby townships offer additional activities and attractions which means some tourists only stay a night or two in Longreach.

A redevelopment of the river would give tourists an opportunity to stay longer in Longreach, creating enormous benefits for the local community, the master plan reads.

Throughout the process of creating the draft master plan, council and Urbis have consulted with the local community with various surveys and meetings, spoken with business, industry and tourism operators and land management agencies and the local indigenous people.

The master plan has been split into two precincts.
The master plan has been split into two precincts.

The master plan has been separated into two key precincts.

THE EASTERN PRECINCT:

Minimal changes and will be focused on the local community recreation activity.

Precinct includes the existing water sports clubhouse and popular beach access point.

Will also include revegetation projects, informal camping and dirt vehicle and walking trails.

THE WESTERN PRECINCT:

Will be the main area of activity, where the majority of new projects and activities will be included, split into various precincts.

Draft plans for the River Parkland Precinct.
Draft plans for the River Parkland Precinct.

Riverland Parkland Precinct:

The parkland will provide a variety of passive and active recreation and amenity opportunities integrated into a revitalised landscape including walking, cycling and exercise trails, tables and benches, shelters, spaces to picnic, event areas, and amenities. The parkland will also provide a regional scale playground made of both formal play and nature play, that is integrated into an architecturally iconic sunset river lookout that is suspended over the Thomson River. In addition to the waterfront parkland areas and the iconic lookout, the parkland will also provide greater opportunity to engage and experience the Thomson River. Just north of Apex Park will be a new fenced off-leash dog park providing a much needed respite for those vacating with their furry friends. South-east of the Parkland are a series of elevated eco-lodges.

Features:

  • River boardwalk with shelters and seating
  • Dense rehabilitated vegetation along the rivers edge
  • Existing shed structure at Apex Park to remain
  • Fenced off-leash dog park with shelters and seating
  • Information kiosk
  • Existing bridge structure to remain and provide access across the river
  • New turning head large enough for vehicles with vessel trailers
  • Structured access points for swimming and non-motorised vessels
  • Large ramp for trailers
  • Natural riverfront access and beach
  • Elevated ‘sunset’ deck with shelter
  • Elevated boardwalk along spine connecting back to Discovery Centre
  • Playground
  • Adventure play
  • Multi-use court
  • Rehabilitated landscape
  • Shelters with BBQ‘s and seating
  • Park amenities and toilets
  • Event space
  • Car parking
  • Eco-lodges
  • Non-motorised vessel launch, i.e. kayaks, stand-up paddle boards, etc
The precincts in the western precinct.
The precincts in the western precinct.

Indigenous Heritage Trail:

The rehabilitated landscape will provide a canvas for a range of garden types that celebrate the region while providing examples of Aboriginal farming, agriculture, and land management. The organic yet curated landscape will be surrounded by a gravel walking trail with seating pods, small scale shelters, and education nodes with interpretative signage.

The Indigenous Heritage Trail transects the gardens anchored by the multi-use Discovery Centre to the north and Longreach Observatory to the south providing further opportunities for education, observance and appreciation.

The Discovery Centre will be a multipurpose building that can be used for events and functions, however its prime use will be as the educational hub for the broader Indigenous Heritage Trail Precinct. Focusing on environment and sustainability, it will focus on education and learning, around biodiversity, water management, vegetation management, and Central Queensland drought resilience didactics. It will tell stories of the land, the cultural landscape and be a place for education that will connect not only to local schools, but schools and education groups within the broader region.

Features:

  • Rehabilitated landscape with expressions of contextual environmental overlays
  • Carpark
  • Discovery Centre
  • Community Green
  • Indigenous Heritage Trail
  • Longreach Observatory
  • Gardens
  • Gravel walking trail with seating pods, small scale shelters and education nodes with interpretative signs
The priorities for the stages of the project.
The priorities for the stages of the project.

Outback Campground Precinct:

The existing Apex Park campground will be enhanced with improved facilities and the landscape area will be rehabilitated to provide a variety of outback experiences that follow a vehicular track.

The campground will be enhanced by an ephemeral wetland that feeds off the Thomson River, mimicking the experience of setting up a camp site along a billabong.

At the entrance to the precinct along the Landsborough Highway, a large sign identifying the key gateway and entrance to the Thomson River Precinct will be established.

Features:

  • Rehabilitated landscape with expressions of contextual environmental overlays
  • Vehicular trail with access to multiple camping pockets and opportunities throughout the landscape
  • Ephemeral wetland / billabong
  • Thomson River Precinct major entry
  • Improved Apex Park campground and facilities

To view the draft Thomson River Master Plan and comment, visit Longreach Regional Council’s website here.


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