You-beaut lookout’s access hitch

Zoe KeenanSouth Western Times
The lookout opened recently but is not accessible by wheelchair.
Camera IconThe lookout opened recently but is not accessible by wheelchair. Credit: Zoe Keenan

Bunbury residents can finally access their much-anticipated lookout tower in Koombana Bay, but a planning oversight means the lookout is not accessible to everyone.

Sitting 15m above sea level and providing 360-views of Bunbury and Koombana Bay, the lookout opened earlier this month.

Originally the tower was designed to be connected to the proposed Department of Parks and Wildlife headquarters, with an elevated walkway between the two to allow wheelchair access.

But when plans for the headquarters were scrapped, access to the lookout was overlooked, according to the Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions.

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“As a result of the revised project budget and advanced stage construction works already under way, the DBCA did not ensure universal access to the lookout as part of the revised scope of works, which no longer included the linked building,” a department spokesperson said.

“This was an oversight that will be corrected for future projects.”

The department had investigated a series of options, including the addition of an elevator or ramp, but it was determined the best use of resources was to ensure better accessibility to the surrounding Mangrove Cove area.

This could include improved paths and an accessible playground, according to the department.

Bunbury MLA Don Punch said it was regrettable that a practical solution to make the lookout fully accessible was not identified.

He said the options explored by the department, in conjunction with the City of Bunbury’s Disability, Access and Inclusion Committee, were not practical.

“There are obvious challenges associated with providing a fully accessible lookout tower,” Mr Punch said.

“It was the advice of the committee that the funds should instead be spent on improving the overall accessibility of the general mangroves area.”

Going forward Mr Punch said expressions of interest would be put to the public for ideas to develop the land in the surrounding area.

Some ideas so far include an art gallery for A-class exhibitions or a centre that celebrated indigenous heritage.

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