IT was like a tale of two cities – well, two towns at least.
No, I’m not talking about the council elections!
Last weekend, the tourism blockbuster that is Easter in Port Douglas seemed a non-event in Mossman. It was so quiet on Sunday night that the Bowls Club shut the kitchens early. The only punters in the whole place were the real ones in the pokies parlour. And yet, and yet . . . It does exercise the minds of some individuals and organisations as to how to increase tourist visitation to Mossman (not that Port Douglas can take the matter for granted, either, but it is an easier ask as a purely tourist town).
One way is to usher Port Douglas visitors to Mossman, and here, during his council election campaign, David Carey’s idea of linking the Bally Hooley train to Mossman seems so full of opportunity.
The tourism market for Port Douglas has increasingly been the family category. They need affordable things to do. And enough of those things so that no one gets bored (which can be a problem now).
Re-connecting the train to Mossman has advantages all round. It adds to the offerings available to tourists to Port Douglas, especially families, and brings visitors to Mossman. And presumably it’s immune to climate change risk.
The Mossman Botanic Gardens is about creating local jobs by giving visitors more reason to spend time in Mossman. Among ideas I’ve heard kicked around as part of this is the notion – admittedly pretty vague – of connecting the gardens to the Mossman Gorge area, by rail, enhancing the visitor experience.
The Bally Hooley could play its part in all of this. As ever, there are many things in the details that would have to be overcome. But there’s a big prize to be won.