News and updates

DPIRD discuss reconciliation in the workplace

A Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development reference group will develop the organisation's inaugural Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP), which will set out practical actions to support and advance reconciliation.

Gascoyne Development Commission is extremely proud to be represented in the group by Executive Assistant and Aboriginal Economic Development Officer, Carleen Ryder.

The group's work comes as we celebrate and build on the respectful relationships shared by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and other Australians as part of National Reconciliation Week, which began today.

With this year’s theme being ‘Grounded in truth. Walk together with courage’, it is a time to learn about our shared histories, cultures and achievements and explore how each of us can contribute to achieving reconciliation in Australia.

Pictured (L-R): Reconciliation Reference Group members Lorelle Williams, Indigenous Professional Services consultant Jahna Cedar (standing), Victoria Aitken, Carleen Ryder, Melissa Hartmann, Lisa Sherriff, Rachel Berman and Kevin May.

RED Grants to support Gascoyne projects

More than $350,000 in grant funding for the Gascoyne region was announced today through the State Government's Regional Economic Development (RED) Grants program.

The projects receiving funding will drive new tourism and economic development opportunities in the region.

Whalebone Brewing Co Pty Ltd will receive $216,470 to install a larger brewing and canning system, enabling the company to increase canning efficiency and widen distribution of their product throughout the Gascoyne region.

The Exmouth-based company is set to double production and distribution of its local craft beer; the grant will also help expand the town's economy.

Dirk Hartog Island Distilleries Pty Ltd will use its grant of $145,434 for the development of the Wirruwana Hub, which will incorporate a visitor centre, bar and café and act as a gateway for visitors and tour operators on Dirk Hartog Island.

DPC media statement: RED Grants to support Gascoyne projects

RADS grant funding a boost for regional airports

The Gascoyne region's airports will benefit from over $500 000 in funding as part of the Regional Airports Development Scheme (RADS) grants 2019-21 round.

Announced Thursday, 2 May, the grants will help improve infrastructure and safety at the Carnarvon, Coral Bay and Learmonth airports and the Exmouth Aerodrome.

DPC media statement: RADS grant funding a boost for 26 regional airports

Government and PCYC partner to tackle youth crime

The State Government is providing $11.3 million in funding, in the 2019-20 State Budget, to ensure the ongoing operation and sustainability of Police and Community Youth Centres (PCYC) and to expand its services across the State.

The commitment underpins Government's support for programs aimed at reducing juvenile offending and improving community safety.

As part of the commitment, the Carnarvon PCYC will undergo a major redevelopment to expand its capacity and better meet the needs of young people in that town with increased participation.

The PCYC is one of the largest multipurpose youth facilities, with a history of 78 years in WA.

In consultation with the Commissioner of Police, a new partnership agreement with the WA Police Force is being drafted where police officers will participate in youth intervention and learning and development programs.

Police officers will provide mentorship, case management and coaching to youth at risk of becoming prolific priority offenders.

DPC media statement: $11.3 million as Government and PCYC partner to tackle youth crime

Funding to reopen Gwoonwardu Mia cultural centre

The State Government's 2019-20 State Budget will deliver $2.5 million to reopen the Gwoonwardu Mia Gascoyne Aboriginal Heritage and Cultural Centre in Carnarvon.

The centre opened in 2005 following a $4.7 million State Government investment, but was closed in 2015 by the Gascoyne Aboriginal Heritage and Cultural Centre Board due to concerns over the management of the centre and financial issues.

The State Government has been working to reopen the centre since coming to government in 2017, culminating in the resumption of direct management of the centre and renewed engagement with the local Aboriginal community.

The State Government has allocated $2.5 million to reopen the centre, working in partnership with the Gascoyne Development Commission and the local Aboriginal community to put the centre on a pathway to sustainability.

The WA Museum has been asked to manage the reopening of the centre until such time as a new governance model is agreed to.

This commitment provides an initial three years of operating funding, and will support building assessments for any necessary repairs and cataloguing of exhibits and artefacts left in the centre.

The reopened centre will be used to drive Aboriginal business development and tourism opportunities in the Gascoyne, and to celebrate the region's Aboriginal heritage.

DPC media statement: Funding to reopen Gwoonwardu Mia cultural centre

One Mile Jetty centre opened in Carnarvon

Visitors to Carnarvon can now explore the fascinating history of the iconic One Mile Jetty at the Carnarvon Heritage Precinct's One Mile Jetty Interpretive Centre.

Regional Development Minister Alannah MacTiernan officially opened the centre today, alongside project partners and members of the community.

Constructed from 1897, the One Mile Jetty has been integral to the cultural identity of Carnarvon and played a significant role in the economic development of the Gascoyne region.

The centre focuses on its history and houses many priceless museum artefacts and photographs of Carnarvon from the beginning of the 20th century.

The centre also features exhibitions of the battle between the HMAS Sydney II and the HSK Kormoran in 1941, including a display of one of the Kormoran's lifeboats, along with stories about local industries, floods and cyclones and Carnarvon's brief whaling history in the 1950s.

The project was made possible through a $2.78 million State Government investment, including $360,000 for the final exhibition space fit-out.

Funding for the project, totalling $3.94 million, was also provided by the Shire of Carnarvon, Lotterywest and Commonwealth Government.

DPC media statement: One Mile Jetty centre opened in Carnarvon

Commemorative sculpture acknowledges Lock Hospitals’ history

Regional Development Minister Alannah MacTiernan and Aboriginal Affairs Minister Ben Wyatt today officially unveiled the Lock Hospitals memorial 'Don't Look at the Islands' sculpture at Carnarvon's Heritage Precinct.

The Lock Hospitals operated from 1908 to 1919 and were an example of medical incarceration where Aboriginal prisoner patients, supposedly with venereal disease, were forcibly removed from country and transported to the islands to be treated.

It is estimated that more than 200 people died on the islands, with their remains left in unmarked areas.

The bronze sculpture - titled 'Don't Look at the Islands' - is installed adjacent to the One Mile Jetty, the same point from which Aboriginal detainees were removed from their mainland home and transported to Bernier and Dorre islands, many never to return.

The McGowan Government contributed $140,000 to the sculpture, with the Shire of Carnarvon providing a further $25,000.

Lotterywest has also contributed $90,350 towards the Lock Hospital memorial project.

DPC media statement: Commemorative sculpture acknowledges Lock Hospitals’ history

Public comment sought on draft joint management plan for Ningaloo Coast

Public comment is being sought on the draft joint management plan for the proposed conservation and recreation reserves along the World Heritage-listed Ningaloo Coast.

The Nyinggulu (Ningaloo) coastal reserves draft joint management plan 2019 covers 70 400 hectares of coast, including the terrestrial portion of Ningaloo Marine Park and adjacent unallocated Crown land from Red Bluff to Winderabandi.

The creation of the proposed reserves will enable conservation of the significant natural and cultural values along the coast, and importantly provide ongoing access and recreational opportunities for all Western Australians and other visitors.

The area will be jointly managed by the Gnulli native title claimants and the Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions, with an Indigenous Land Use Agreement expected to be finalised this year.

The draft management plan is available on the department's website and is open for comment until 14 May 2019.

DPC media statement: Public comment sought on draft joint management plan for Ningaloo Coast (original)

Fairer pest rate targets Carnarvon fruit fly

The Western Australian Government has introduced a revised declared pest rate for Carnarvon growers to help rid the region of the destructive horticultural pest, the Mediterranean fruit fly (Medfly).

The revised rate follows extensive consultation to deliver a fairer system for Carnarvon growers, and will fund continued area-wide baiting as part of a broader pilot program to eradicate Medfly from the region.

A rate will now apply to all properties engaged in commercial horticultural activities based on the size of each property rather than the value of the property.

It will apply to some commercial horticultural properties that were not previously rated. This will broaden the base and see rates reduced for most growers.

The State Government will co-fund the eradication effort and, through the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development, will produce and release sterile Medflies at no charge this financial year.

The Western Australian Government is investing more than $4 million into four Medfly projects, including $3.6 million into Carnarvon medfly eradication. The project has been successful in reducing fly numbers from more than seven flies per trap, per day at the start of the project to 0.5 flies per trap, per day in January 2019.

More information about this program is available from the department's website.

DPC media statement: Fairer pest rate targets Carnarvon fruit fly (original)

International visitors spend big in the Gascoyne

The latest Tourism Research Australia data for the Gascoyne bucks WA tourism figures

The Gascoyne welcomed 353,800 domestic (86%) and international (14%) visitors, spending a whopping $359 million across the region during the year ending June 2018. Spend by international visitors in the Gascoyne was up 24% from the previous year. The Gascoyne’s international spend was higher than the national figure which increased by 5%, while state international visitor spend was down 10%. One reason for this difference can be attributed to the signature, high-value experiences provided by the region’s industry. This was despite an overall decline in the number of international visitors to the Gascoyne. Visitation and spend by domestic visitors to the Gascoyne region also reported stronger growth than WA state statistics. Domestic visitation increased by 12% compared to the State (8%) while spend increased by 7% compared to WA (-2%). “Tourism is a dynamic and resilient industry here in the Gascoyne,” says Gascoyne Development Commission Chairman, Andy Munro, “at last count the industry has created 550 direct jobs and supports 200, typically small to medium-sized enterprises according to ABS data” he explains. “According to Tourism Research Australia figures, we’ve seen an increase in overall visitation to the Gascoyne in the last five years and a conservative 10-year doubling of visitor spend,” Andy says. “The Commission’s role is to lead and direct tourism policy, but the engine behind tourism development is the private sector, we cannot exist without each other. Public-Private Partnerships are vital for the region and the Commission is committed to develop and strengthen these.” The superlative attributes of two World Heritage properties, Shark Bay and Ningaloo Coast, not only strengthen Australia’s global tourism competitiveness, but they also provide a platform for an industry that delivers signature, eco-sustainable and world-class experiences. Kieran and Tori Wardle, run the increasingly popular tourism experience on Dirk Hartog Island. Kieran says, “There are so many exceptional products in our region that will attract visitors from all over the world. The most appealing aspect of the industry is that it’s being driven by young passionate entrepreneurs who are willing to share their story and help others achieve their goals.” Having just completed its third year of trials, swimming with humpback whales along the Ningaloo Coast is delighting guests and following the popularity footsteps that swimming with whale sharks has seen. And with a wealth of experience behind them, local operators are dedicated to providing a world-class experience as Sarah Ellis, owner of Ningaloo Discovery explains, “2018 was certainly a huge year for Ningaloo discovery. We had over a 20% increase in guests onboard for tours with us this season” going on to say, “humpback whale swim tours have developed into a sustainable tourism industry.” The Gascoyne was swaying in colour with the best wildflower season in a decade. Shark Bay boasts the longest running wildflower season in the state, and Instagram was awash with pink Shark Bay daisy, purple Mulla Mulla and Red Sturt Desert Pea. David O’Malley chief executive for regional tourism organisation Australia’s Coral Coast said, “the Gascoyne wildflowers were fantastic this season and provided great photography and social media sharing opportunities. Along with partnerships with local professional photographers to capture amazing footage, we ran the biggest domestic wildflower campaign in ACC’s history.” “We excite more than just sight and touch senses here in the Gascoyne too,” says Andy, “let’s not forget our taste buds.” Emerging as a diverse delicatessen of exceptional food, the Gascoyne’s Food Bowl status is also riding a global culinary tourism trend. Growing every year, the annual Gascoyne Food Festival was staged at stunning locations from Exmouth and Carnarvon to Mt Augustus Station. Cathy Sohler, general manager at Mt Augustus Tourist Park tells us, “We hosted our third and biggest ‘Australia’s Biggest BBQ at Australia’s Biggest Rock’ event this year while re-investing thousands of dollars into the event as well.” Carnarvon Visitor Centre Coordinator, Stephanie Leca said: “The community and Visitor Centre team have worked extremely hard to change the perception of Carnarvon and improve the visitor experience.” This effort was recognised when Carnarvon was awarded the GWN7 Top Tourism Town for a population under 5,000 people this September. Recently picking up Bronze in the Tour and Transport category at the 2018 WA Tourism Awards Justin Borg, chief executive and pilot for Coral Coast Helicopter Services confirms, “yes, we have seen some noticeable growth during our third season in the Gascoyne.” He elaborated saying, “I believe the Tourism Industry is set to further improve throughout the Gascoyne as more people become aware of what the region has to offer and we are excited as a company to already be planning for such growth.” “With tourism forecasts indicating growth in both domestic and international visitors, coupled with strong regional industry confidence, 2019 looks set to bring more success across our largest industry” states GDC Chairman Andy Munro, “we’re excited for the future of this key regional economic driver”. Tourism Research Australia Tourism Western Australia