Brooyar: A climber's paradise and tourism opportunity
GYMPIE has been touted as a rock climbing hotbed and an untapped adventure tourism destination.
Outside of Gympie, rock climbers in particular know the region holds a prize jewel in Brooyar State Forest.
The forest holds within it some of southeast Queensland's best climbing, with a dozen individual climbing cliffs and hundreds of routes.
Gympie local and SoMa SoMa Espresso part owner John O'Brien is a legend of Queensland climbing and a go-to for knowledge of anything rock related.
"I am always interested in climbing as a source of tourism,” O'Brien said.
"So many places around the world rely on nothing but climbing tourism, it can bring sustainable income to a destination - Kalymnos in Greece for one, a favourite of mine.
"Climbing tourism exists, and has done for many years in Gympie but the area has a long way to go to be considered supportive of climbing.
"We sell the climbing guide book to South East Queensland, which includes Brooyar, in our cafe.”
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Gympie climber Andrew Hedley said he believes Gympie is lagging behind in adventure tourism, and should look at building a culture towards sustainable ecotourism.
"Definitely, our town has such an unused potential for adventure. Brooyar and other places could easily be converted into places that rival those of other major destinations, we just need to put the effort into changing the culture around these types of activities and the infrastructure.
"The funny thing is that so many locals don't even know about the area. The people that I've personally met there are internationals and people who have gone out of their way to discover the area.”
According to Ecotourism Australia, the governing body certifying tourism operators in environmental responsibility, the combined annual revenue for their certified operators in 2016 reached $1.2billion.
Brisbane-based French Canadian rock climber Bruno Gohier said he knew little of Gympie before venturing north to sample the sandstone cliffs of Brooyar.
Climbing in Brooyar for me is awesome,” he said, "I am new to Australia as well so (I am) discovering the beauty of it every day.”
"I love the rock at Brooyar being very grippy and colourful.
"The shapes are coral-like, which makes it very interesting to play with.
"Long and short climbs next to each other makes it a perfect place to push myself or bring beginners.”
Adelaide climber Sean Charles recently travelled throughout southeast Queensland and said climbing is not just a sport.
"I think it's more than a sport for me, it's definitely a lifestyle in a way,” he said.
"I climb almost every day and if I don't I'm thinking about my projects.
"I plan my holidays around climbing.
"It's how I socialise with friends.
"It pretty much consumes all things and is very hard to explain to non climbers, that's for sure.”
Charles said he has travelled extensively for climbing.
"Travelled a fair bit through Australia and overseas, mainly New Zealand,” he said.
"It's just something you can keep going back to the same place over and over again.
"That and climbing is such a community driven thing that when everyone meets up at remote climbing spots it brings such a great happy vibe with it.
"The climbing community is such a friendly, inviting and welcoming group it could only be a good thing for small communities.”