A new interpretive centre will open on K’gari (Fraser Island) next week to help increase understanding, appreciation and conservation of the world’s largest sand island.
The K’gari World Heritage Discovery Centre, located at Kingfisher Bay Resort, is a joint initiative of USC and SeaLink Fraser Island in partnership with the Butchulla Aboriginal Corporation, and is supported by Fraser Coast Regional Council.
USC Pro Vice-Chancellor (Engagement) Professor Joanne Scott said entry to the centre, which will officially open on 1 March, 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.”
SeaLink Fraser Island Group General Manager David Hay said the opening of the centre would be an historic occasion.
“We believe the development of this centre is a significant step in providing high quality interpretation for visitors to K’gari, which will also encourage people to play a part in its protection and conservation,” Mr Hay said.
The centre draws on research and decades of historical documents, reports and photographs held in USC’s K’gari-Fraser Island Research Archive.
Designed and compiled by USC staff and students, interpretive 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.
Visitors can learn about the Island’s vegetation, birds and other wildlife, including rare and significant species that have adapted to its unique ecosystems, such as the dingo (Wongari) and acid frogs.
Professor Scott said the centre also provided a dynamic space for a range of activities and presentations.
“The centre is an important step towards expanding interpretation on K’gari and is designed to complement other current and planned interpretation on the island and wider region,” she said.
This includes USC’s K’gari Fraser Island Guide, a free app created by University staff as a comprehensive online and offline exploration guide for students, researchers and visitors.