Coming back to nature


By Staff Writer Sheree Hoddinett

There’s no denying that Bribie Island is a wonder of nature. But how much is being done to make the most of that, whilst boosting the tourism potential of the Island in the process? That could be about to change. In recent months, a team of Bribie locals have been busy developing the groundwork to reimagine the tourism narrative for Bribie Island.

Angela Armitage, Richard Ogden, and Geoff Ginn (all with a background in small business) have organised the Bribie Island Nature-Based Tourism Vision Forum to explore the outcomes and provide the opportunity for others within the local community to contribute to what comes next.

“We are all members of Bribie Island Environmental Protection Association (BIEPA), and we are also part of the tourism sub-committee,” Angela said. “We have also all been involved in small business, ranging from Richard who chaired the Sandgate Small Business Association. Geoff who as an artist has run a gallery and been a captain in the Army. I’ve owned and operated retail and tourism businesses. The three of us have all had small business experience, so we understand the demands and understand what it’s like to be at the coalface.”

With nature-based tourism highlighted as being among the fastest growing and highest yielding sectors of the tourism industry, Bribie Island provides a wealth of opportunities.

“The forum is going to be talking about nature-based tourism and the fact it’s a large growth area of tourism. It’s approaching 30% of the market,” Angela says. “Tourism Australia and Tourism & Events Queensland through its nature-based tourism strategy 2021 to 2024 are promoting nature-based tourism to capitalise on consumer demand for experiences in nature. We need to get on that bus! We need to acknowledge and make the most of what we have got here on the Island.”

Ideas to be canvassed at the forum include the encouragement of longer-staying visitors, economic benefits for Bribie from nature-based tourism, training and job potential, activity packages based on the Island’s natural assets (guided tours/walks), the accessible tourism boom, a Bribie Discovery Centre to welcome and inform visitors and recognition of Bribie's (Yarun's) ancient cultural heritage.

“There is a lot more to Bribie than meets the eye – lots of stories to uncover,” Angela said. “There are so many opportunities here. We’re not talking about having Bribie overrun, we’re talking about monetising and making the most from the significant numbers of people who already come here and high-yielding tourists. We’d like to see Bribie businesses thrive and just change the conversation a bit. In the end if Bribie business does well, it’ll be great for jobs and boost Bribie overall.”

From the extensive marine life to the natural flora and fauna habitat encompassing the island, capitalising on the significance of Bribie being an Island is what Angela feels is one of its biggest drawcards. But there is so much more that can be done to make Bribie even better.

“For a start, Islands are a bit exotic to people, most people do not live on an Island, so we need to make a lot more of the fact that Bribie is an Island and how special that is,” Angela said. “The general idea is we want to talk about whether Bribie is selling itself short. We can’t compete with the Gold Coast and Noosa for bright lights and restaurants, nor do we want to. But we need to consider what our competitive advantage is and what will bring people here and that is Bribie’s nature, which just happens to be identified by the tourism bodies as a hot growth area. We want to build on that. We want to maximise and monetise what we have. Look at places like Tasmania and New Zealand and what they have done to maximise their tourism potential. When you think about it, the places people are going and what they are going there for - you can see how important nature-based tourism actually is but we’re not telling that story on Bribie as well as what we could.”

Forum Details

What: Bribie Island Nature-Based Tourism Vision Forum

When: Sunday April 10, 9am-1pm

Where: Bribie Island RSL, Bongaree

Contact/further information: biepaforum@gmail.com

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