Mining billionaire Andrew Forrest’s plans for an $85 million redevelopment to transform a caravan park north of Exmouth into a luxury eco-resort have been unveiled.
With a development application yet to be lodged, Tattarang, the Forrest family’s private commercial group, has revealed first glimpses of the proposed Ningaloo Lighthouse project, designed by Kerry Hill Architects.
Community consultation over the proposed development is currently underway, with a planning permit yet to be submitted to the Exmouth Shire.
At full capacity, the resort would accommodate about 550 overnight guests—which the company says is less than the existing caravan park is licensed to accommodate.
Dubbed a “world class sustainable resort”, the proposed project at the foot of Vlamingh Head, 13 kilometres north of Exmouth, is described as “low impact” and “blending into the natural environment, with a mix of accommodation”.
Tattarang chief investment officer John Hartman said the project represents one of the largest tourism investments in Western Australia’s north-west.
“A sustainable, considered development with the ability to create jobs and generate income for existing tourism providers,” Hartman said.
Forrest, who purchased the caravan park site in 2017, is chairman of Fortescue Metals Group, an iron ore powerhouse and the fourth-largest iron ore producer in the world after BHP Billiton, Rio Tinto, and Vale.
Forrest founded FMG in 2003, of which Tattarang holds a 36 per cent shareholding.
Exmouth, a small resort town on Western Australia’s North West Cape, roughly 1,250-kilometres north of Perth, is a gateway to nearby Ningaloo Marine Park and the Jurabi Coastal Reserve’s tidal rock pools, a well-known spot where turtles swim to shore and lay their eggs.
Marketing materials say accommodation will range from “powered caravan sites to eco tents, family-friendly villas and hotel rooms”.
Plans also include restaurants and bars, swimming pools, a spa, tennis courts, a recreation centre, playground, boating and storage facilities.
Tourism Council WA said the resort development, and eventually its operation, would make a significant contribution to the local economy.
“Once up and running, the resort is anticipated to create hundreds of jobs and inject more than $30 million to the local economy each year,” Tourism Council WA chief executive Evan Hall said.
Earlier this year, federal and state governments committed $4.8 million and $1.2 million respectively in funding to a realignment of Yardie Creek Road, essentially shifting the road which separates the current site from the beach.