Big Foot takes leap forward on South Coast

Interest in a Shoalhaven Heads tourist attraction is so great the operator is doubling its capacity.

A 36-seat open-sided four-wheel-drive tractor-bus known as Big Foot takes residents and visitors to the top of Mount Coolangatta, giving them one of the most spectacular views of the Shoalhaven coast.

Big Foot is run by a local family that operates other tourist businesses in Australia and overseas.

The hour-long tours, from the historic convict-built Coolangatta Village, are becoming so popular, Bishop Adventures is having a second vehicle built to try to keep up with demand.

Joe Bishop is the tour guide who has tamed Big Foot for a growing number of people to enjoy.

"I have been speaking to a lot of bus companies, along with Dolphin Watch and other operators," Mr Bishop said.

"This means if a big double-decker bus comes in with 62 visitors, we can run both vehicles and cater for them all. We have recently started getting a lot of international groups that are heading down to Jervis Bay on day trips or overnight trips. The region has got a lot to offer, so we can package things together."

The Big Foot adventure was originally started with another vehicle in the early 1980s by Mr Bishop's father, Bruce. It only returned to Mount Coolangatta in 2009 after a break of about 15 years.

Tours include an explanation of how Coolangatta in Queensland got its name from a ship from Berry's Bay, Shoalhaven Heads, that came to grief there.

"It was Alexander Berry's ship," Mr Bishop said.

Much of the history of the area settled by Mr Berry is told on the tours, which include an explanation of how Coolangatta comes from an Aboriginal word meaning splendid view.

Big Foot trips back down the mountain include a stop at a recently built viewing platform on the tree line.

Couples are starting to opt for a marriage ceremony on the platform, followed by a reception in the Great Hall, built in 1822.

Big Foot's growing popularity is partly due to its ability to cater for anyone of any age, readily available accommodation, quality restaurants and catering facilities and award-winning wines from Coolangatta Estate.

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