First Aboriginal-owned whale watching tours kick off in Moreton

The State Government has today partnered with the Quandamooka Yoolooburrabee Aboriginal Corporation (QYAC) to launch Yalingbila Tours – Australia’s first Aboriginal owned and operated whale watching tours, on the Brisbane River.

Tourism Industry Development Minister Kate Jones said Yalingbila Tours would offer visitors a unique opportunity to experience some of the best whale watching in the world in the company of Quandamooka guides.

“International tourists want to travel where they can get a unique cultural experience,” she said.

“We also know that eco and adventure tourists stay longer and spend more money while they’re on holiday.

“These tours will lure thousands of extra tourists to Queensland and generate millions for our economy.”

In years to come, Yalingbila Tours is tipped to generate $35 million, create 25 jobs and attract 7000 tourists to Queensland.

Ms Jones said delivering new ecotourism experiences was an important part of the government’s strategy to grow the tourism industry in southeast Queensland.

“There’s nowhere else on the planet like southeast Queensland. From the heart of Brisbane, you can get to one of the most beautiful island ecosystems on the planet in under an hour,” Ms Jones said.

“The connectivity between the River and the Bay creates huge opportunities for our tourism industry.

“This is one of a number of initiatives we’re rolling out to make sure we capitalise on the connectivity and natural beauty of Brisbane and the Bay.”

As part of Minjerribah’s economic transition from sand-mining to sustainable tourism, the government granted an exclusive whale watching permit to QYAC to create employment opportunities for Quandamooka people and complement existing cultural tourism and whale watching on the island.

“As the Traditional Custodians of Moreton Bay and its many islands, including Minjerribah (North Stradbroke Island), no one has a better understanding or insight into the beauty of the Bay and the wildlife that inhabit its land and waters than the Quandamooka people,” Ms Jones said.

“More than 30,000 migrating yalingbila (whales) are estimated to pass the Minjerribah coastline each year, and on a good day the lucky whale watcher can see 200 whales pass from dawn to dusk.”

Today’s announcement comes only a week after the government announced $4.5 million for a new cultural centre to attract more tourists to North Stradbroke Island.

Yalingbila Tours kick-off on 6 July 2019, leaving from Raby Bay, Cleveland and stopping at Goompi (Dunwich) on North Stradbroke Island on Thursdays and Fridays and departing from South Bank, Brisbane on weekends.

The boat, a new SeaLink Rocket catamaran, can take up to 120 people on the six-hour round cruise out past Minjerribah and back. The boat has been decorated in Quandamooka artworks with support from Redland City Council.

QYAC CEO Cameron Costello said the launch of Yalingbila Tours was a historic moment for the Quandamooka People.

“Our Yalingbila Tours will give visitors a deep and genuine insight into Quandamooka culture – our people, our history, our stories, our connection to country and our future,” Mr Costello said.

“For tours leaving from Meanjin (Brisbane), we will partner with Yuggera guides to tell the story of the Brisbane River.

“Once we are in the Bay, Quandamooka storytellers will tell some of our ancient stories, in particular those of the yalingbila, which are sacred to our people as they represent one of the Quandamooka’s two Moieties (kinship groups).

“Our young guides will share their knowledge of caring for Quandamooka country and waters, and protecting the wildlife that also call it home.

“Yalingbila Tours represent a huge opportunity for Quandamooka people. Today the tours will employ Quandamooka guides and an administration team, tomorrow it will employ a captain and crew, as we train our young people to take on these roles.

“Any profits made from the tours will also go back to creating more training, education and business opportunities for our people.”

Deputy Mayor Krista Adams said Brisbane was emerging as a world-class tourism destination and new experiences such as Yalingbila Tours would help boost that reputation.

“We’re proud to welcome Yalingbila Tours to our region’s tourism offering, which will connect the Brisbane CBD with our Bay’s unique natural beauty with Indigenous culture,” Cr Adams said.

“We are doing everything we can to encourage tourism organisations and investors to create new experiences in Brisbane, which give tourists and locals more to see and do.

“Yalingbila Tours will show visitors our spectacular natural environment and local culture, while supporting the region’s tourism industry, which is worth $7.8 billion to the local economy and employs more than 65,000 people.”

Redland City Council Mayor Karen Williams said Yalingbila Tours had the potential to support new businesses and grow established businesses across the Redlands Coast.

“Redlands Coast on Quandamooka Country has always been a popular whale watching location and Yalingbila Tours will add to our reputation as a naturally wonderful location to see not only whales but other marine life such as dolphins, dugongs and turtles,” she said.

“Yalingbila Tours will draw thousands of new visitors to Redlands Coast and Minjerribah from June to October, traditionally our off-peak tourism season, and they will be looking for great places to stay and eat, as well as other things to do.”

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