Gascoyne Food Bowl

Hon. Alannah MacTiernan MLC. Minister for Regional Development; Agriculture and Food congratulating Gascoyne Food Bowl land tenure recipients.

The Gascoyne Food Bowl Initiative was established to significantly expand the Carnarvon horticultural district. By providing access to new prime agricultural land and water resources, the initiative will enable further growth of the region’s horticultural product, valued on average at more than $97 million.

Stage two of the release was announced in January 2021 after extensive work by the WA Government. Stage two includes seven parcels of land totalling 300ha and follows the successful conclusion of a Native Title Agreement with the Yinggarda people in late 2020. The new land will be supported by a specific water allocation and will be serviced by a 25km pipeline and a reliable electric power supply, guaranteeing reliable access to high quality water.

The Commission played a key role in bringing the Food Bowl initiative to life. With diverse stakeholders including growers’ groups and government, a collaborative approach was essential.

The Commission played a key role in advising on Native Title negotiations and facilitated community engagement with water cooperative members and growers. Our strong relationships with local stakeholders allowed us to play an important leadership role to get the project off the ground. Results (metrics)

  • 300ha of prime horticultural land released.
  • 400GL of irrigation water.
  • Up to 300 future jobs.

“This land release is the result of years of extensive collaboration by industry, community, traditional owners and government, and particularly the Gascoyne Water Co-operative, which has played a crucial role in working to improve water reliability for all growers in the precinct.” The Honourable Alannah MacTiernan, Minister for Agriculture and Food; Regional Development.

Rangelands Biosecurity Project

The Commission has played a strategic role in strengthening biosecurity efforts across the $94 million Carnarvon horticultural district. Pests and diseases represent a significant threat to the horticultural sector. Strong biosecurity is essential to safeguarding production and ensuring ongoing market access for our products.

The Carnarvon Growers Association Recognised Biosecurity Group was deregistered in 2020. An alternative model to facilitate industry-led biosecurity measures was urgently needed. 

Community-based organisation Rangelands NRM partnered with the Commission in late 2020 to examine alternative models and build industry and stakeholder support. The team facilitated broad industry consultation through meetings with growers, market representatives, peak bodies and other small business and primary production organisations.

  • 116 total individual consultations
  • 32 growers engaged.
  • 51 stakeholders engaged. 

The consultation process was welcomed by industry. The face-to-face approach enabled a deeper dive into the social, cultural and governance issues affecting the Carnarvon horticulture industry resulting in an action plan for the future.

Gwoonwardu Mia

Project description: Re-establishment of the Gascoyne Aboriginal Heritage and Cultural Centre, Gwoonwardu Mia.

Project objectives: Rebuilding the cultural presence of our First Nations People in Carnarvon.

Current phase: Completed

Completion: 2019



Gwoonwardu Mia, Gascoyne Aboriginal Heritage and Cultural Centre is a multipurpose centre that celebrates the culture and country of the five Aboriginal language groups of the Gascoyne Region, the Yinggarda, Baiyungu, Malgana, Thadgari and Thalanyji. The centre is in Carnarvon on Yinggarda land.

The centre opened in 2005 but was closed in 2015 by its Board due to concerns over the management of the centre and financial issues.

In October 2018, the Hon. Alannah MacTiernan Minister for Regional Development and the Gascoyne

Development Commission (GDC) met with the Carnarvon Aboriginal community to discuss the future of Gwoonwardu Mia. Based on community feedback the Minister agreed to reopen the centre.

The GDC commenced on-ground management of the facility in the short term.

In April 2019, the Minister announced the State Government would allocate $2.5 million towards the reopening of Gwoonwardu Mia, for operational costs over a three-year period, and the Western Australian Museum (WAM) would manage the facility.

The centre was reopened in November 2019 by Hon. David Templeman Minster for Culture and the Arts and Hon. Alannah MacTiernan Minister for Regional Development.

Project status

The Western Australian Museum’s management of Gwoonwardu Mia has developed the centre into an important hub in the Gascoyne for cultural, business and tourism development in the Aboriginal community, for showcasing Aboriginal art and culture, a place for community and business meetings and a popular site for community events.

WAM consults with the Gwoonwardu Mia Advisory Committee that links Gwoonwardu Mia with the communities it serves.  It is a “two-way” liaison: representing the community to Gwoonwardu Mia and acting as an advocate for Gwoonwardu Mia in the community.

The centre houses a permanent collection as well as exhibitions, Artist-in-Resident program, conference and meeting rooms, outdoor event space, an ethnobotanical garden, gallery shop, twilight markets and cafe.

Current Exhibitions

  • Burlganyja Wanggaya – Old People Talking. Multi-award winning interactive permanent exhibition that tells the stories of the Gascoyne’s Aboriginal people in their own words and language. The exhibition includes a 33,000 year old shell necklace, images, artefacts and objects, the amazing “Burrowing Bee” or Mungurrgurra film, an interactive light table and a skydome experience.
  • Mudlark Jilinbirri Metals. A temporary exhibition by the Jilinbirri Weavers who use traditional materials of grasses and wool, found objects, wire, seeds, banana fibre from local plantations and textiles to weave their artworks. They then translate their woven forms into innovative cast metal objects.

The GDC has collaborated with WAM in the reopening process of Gwoonwardu Mia and has been working with the Aboriginal community and other stakeholders to facilitate the ongoing sustainability of the Centre.

Exmouth Marine Infrastructure

Project description

The delivery of safe and reliable marine infrastructure in Exmouth.

Project objectives

Facilitate regional economic growth by providing a reliable berthing solution for visiting cruise ships.

Current phase: Completed


Exmouth is widely acknowledged by the cruise industry as a transformational cruise destination capped by its status as World Heritage Area. With its ‘bucket-list’ tourism experiences, strategic north-west cape location and proximity to South East Asia, the ability to bring Exmouth on-line as a guaranteed transit-port will be the evolution of Western Australia’s cruise sector and an economic imperative for the State.  However, Exmouth does not possess suitable and reliable marine infrastructure.

The current Exmouth Boat Harbour is designed to service recreational and commercial vessels up to 35 metres in length.  Cruise ships anchor offshore and transfer patrons to shore using tender vessels, a lengthy process that is vulnerable to windy weather. To redress this gap and provide integral job-creating infrastructure, the Commission has investigated a range of solutions and sites.


  • In June 2019, ACIL Allen Consulting was engaged by Gascoyne Development Commission to undertake an Options Assessment and Economic Benefit Assessment of options to invest in new marine infrastructure at Exmouth. To assist in this task, ACIL Allen engaged marine engineering firm BMT Group to provide engineering advice and analysis. This included the development of initial concept drawings.
  • Overall, the study found that there are likely to be net benefits to Western Australia associated with the provision of the new marine infrastructure in order of between $128 million and $154.1 million over the life of the new infrastructure. In a Benefit Cost Assessment framework, the Benefit Cost Ratio of the new infrastructure is estimated to be between 1.99 and 2.52 –
  • ACIL Allen estimates that nearly 700 full-time jobs will be created and sustained as a result of the infrastructure; with 70 of those created in the Gascoyne region.
  • An interagency Steering Group has been formed to help define and realise key economic opportunities, identify risks, and contribute to the acceleration of the project.
  • Phase 1 of the project is complete, and further phases are on hold as the market-led Gascoyne Gateway project progresses.

The Exmouth Marine Infrastructure Project will provide essential infrastructure to enable Exmouth to take advantage of its geographical location and create a vibrant new business environment for Northern and Western Australia.


Economic Benefits Assessment of Exmouth Marine Infrastructure Project

Aboriginal Business Development Forum


In October 2020, the Commission hosted the second Gascoyne Aboriginal Business Development Forum. The forum utilised the state-of-the-art facilities at Gwoonwardu Mia in Carnarvon and focused on engaging and empowering existing and potential Aboriginal business owners by bringing together the private sector, industry, government, and non-government organisations. The forum succeeded with over 65 people from a diverse range of backgrounds in attendance.


The Commission drew on our event planning and facilitation capabilities to create a forum tailored to local needs. The forum was co-designed with industry stakeholders, through a collaborative working group that formed early in 2020. The group, led by the Commission, recognised early on that the forum should focus on engaging and empowering existing and potential Aboriginal business owners. Forming connections and strengthening relationships between Aboriginal entrepreneurs and business development support services was the ultimate goal. The Commission engaged local Aboriginal business owners Darren Capewell from Wula Gura Nyindi Eco Adventure Tours and Robbie Mallard the owner of successful construction business Mallard Contracting as the MC and presenter on the day.

Results (metrics)

  • 67 participants.
  • three presenters.
  • seven “On Country Business Pitch for Aboriginal People” pitches were submitted after the workshop.
  • ongoing fortnightly business mentoring services initiated at Gwoonwardu Mia with the Wirra Hub and the Commission supporting local Aboriginal entrepreneurs.


The Gascoyne Aboriginal Business Development Forum provided an opportunity to engage with existing and potential Aboriginal business owners to identify and harness economic development opportunities in the region.

Carnarvon Waterfront Development

A strategic State Government lot on the waterfront was released to facilitate private investment, create new job opportunities and contribute to State objectives such as regional prosperity.

Aerial view of Carnarvon waterfront and available lots (image credit: Ben Teo Photography)

Gascoyne Development Commission promoted the opportunity to prospective investors, providing information and co-investment opportunities where there were clear public and economic benefits associated with the development of the land. Development possibilities included boutique hotel accommodation, fine dining featuring local produce, a range of flexible commercial spaces, and more.

All lots have now been sold.

The Commission is working with the purchaser of 85 Olivia Terrace, DG Corporation, to assist the development of accommodation and hospitality at the site to create an iconic precinct for Carnarvon, a town that’s been labelled the next Broome.

The Shire of Carnarvon has approved the development application for The Pier, a mixed-use development that includes permanent residential, short-term accommodation, hotel, office, commercial, retail and food & beverage premises. See:



Development Opportunity Proposal

Investment proposal information package

Gascoyne in the media

Development application The Pier

Quobba Blowholes Aboriginal Recognition Project

The Gascoyne Development Commission saw the need to recognise the important cultural history of the Blowholes for both Traditional Owners and the Carnarvon Aboriginal community, who have a long history associated with the site. 

In August 2020, the Commission confirmed that it would work with Traditional Owners and Carnarvon Aboriginal community members to achieve this goal. It was agreed that a day-use shelter with interpretive signage would provide a place for Aboriginal people, tourists, and residents of Carnarvon and surrounding areas, a central point to visit and connect. A shelter would also provide a place to learn about the area and rich Aboriginal cultural history, while wayfaring signage will educate people about the lands on which they visit. 

The Commission partnered with the Shire of Carnarvon and Rio Tinto to fund and deliver this project. 

The infrastructure was officially opened on Friday 7 July 2023 as part of NAIDOC Week celebrations. 

The ceremony began with a Welcome to Country from both Baiyungu and Yinggarda elders. Speeches were given by GDC, Shire of Carnarvon and Rio Tinto. They outlined the successful collaborations between key stakeholders, the importance of the Blowholes to the Aboriginal people and how the new structure will help attract more visitors to the area.

The crowd was excited to watch the ribbon cutting ceremony and to hear the stories behind the artwork and signage.

The new structure will now be managed by the Shire of Carnarvon