VISITORS to K’gari (Fraser Island) will soon have access a new interpretive centre to help increase their 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 the University of the Sunshine Coast and SeaLink Fraser Island in partnership with the Butchulla Aboriginal Corporation.
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The initiative is also supporter by the Fraser Coast Regional Council.
The centre will officially open on Monday, March 1 and will be free to all visitors to the island.
USC Pro Vice-Chancellor (Engagement) Professor Joanne Scott the recent devastating bushfires highlighted how important and fragile the island is.
Prof Scott said K’gari was recognised as one of the world’s most outstanding natural wonders.
“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,” she said.
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The centre draws on research and decades of historical documents, reports and photographs held in USC’s K’gari-Fraser Island Research Archive.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.
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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.