‘Important moment’ as new island drawcard opens
A Butchulla elder has described the joy of watching her granddaughter look at the exhibits in the newly opened K'gari World Heritage Discovery Centre.
Veronica Bird from the Butchulla Aboriginal Corporation was among dozens who attended the official opening on the centre on Fraser Island on Monday.
She said she'd had a chance to look through the centre on Sunday afternoon.
Ms Bird said her granddaughter had loved the displays.
"She loved the interactive signs ... the beautiful photography and finding the beautiful animals," she said.
Her aunt, Joyce Bonner, delivered the welcome to country that opened the official ceremony.
She described the opening of the interpretive centre, which provides insight into what makes Fraser Island so unique, as a very important occasion.
"We continue to watch our stories unfold, by connecting and sharing with everyone, the next generation," she said.
"On behalf of my people I share this journey, it's a very important celebration and learning on country."
Designed and compiled by USC staff and students, interpretative panels describe how wind, sand, water and plants have worked together since ancient times in an endless cycle to create K'gari's complex systems of unique lakes, dunes, coloured cliffs and rainforests.
Group General Manager of Sealink Fraser Island David Hay said the interpretive centre had been a long time coming.
He said the centre represented a collaboration between the Butchulla people, the University of the Sunshine Coast, Sealink and Kingfisher Bay Resort, the Fraser Coast Regional Council and the Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service.
"We've been talking on and off with USC ... for probably 15 or 18 years about doing something like this," he said.
"What I'm really excited about is that we could pull something like this together through those partnerships."
Mr Hay said the bushfires on Fraser Island late last year was a reminder of how special and fragile K'gari was.
Fraser Coast Mayor George Seymour officially opened the centre.
He said with his work in council, he tried to make sure the Butchulla people's three laws were followed.
The laws, outlined by Ms Bonner in her welcome to country, were what is good for the land comes first, if you have plenty you must share and do not take what doesn't belong to you.
Cr Seymour said those who arrived on the island but didn't go too far afield would have a chance to understand what was so special and unique about the island thanks to the interpretive centre, and those who did explore would have their experience enriched by it.
USC Pro Vice-Chancellor Professor Joanne Scott said entry to the centre would be free to all visitors to the island.
"K'gari is recognised as one of the world's most outstanding natural wonders and the recent devastating fires have highlighted just how important, and fragile, this incredible island is," Professor Scott said.
"This centre is part of USC's commitment to increase understanding of its exceptional Butchulla culture, which dates back more than 60,000 years, and address gaps in visitors' knowledge of the island's unique geology and ecology which led to its World Heritage listing."