Cassowary Awards applaud outstanding Wet Tropics contributions

Outstanding contributions to the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area were celebrated at the Wet Tropics Management Authority’s Cassowary Awards in Cairns on Saturday night.

Around 250 guests applauded the 10 award recipients, from over 50 nominations, while enjoying the atmosphere of the Tjapukai Aboriginal Cultural Park.

The recipients are:

  • Thorsborne Award for Community Conservation & Rehabilitation: Bonadio Partnership

  • Tourism and Presentation Award: Mandingalbay Ancient Indigenous Tours

  • Innovation Award: Dr David Westcott

  • Education Award: Children for Change

  • People Country Culture Award: Elizabeth ‘Betty’ Cashmere

  • Community Champions Award: Phil Staley

  • Local Government & Industry Initiatives Award: Gillies Range Road Litter and Illegal Dumping Prevention Project Collaboration Team

  • Climate Change Leadership Award: Jaragun Natural Resource Management

  • Young Cassowary Award: Malanda Primary School

  • Chair’s Award: Allison Halliday

Queensland’s Minister for Environment and the Great Barrier Reef Leeanne Enoch congratulated all recipients and nominees.

‘These dedicated individuals, groups and organisations do amazing work in protecting the World Heritage Area,’ she said.

 ‘The work they do is incredibly important and ensures the continued protection of one of the world’s most biodiverse regions.’

The awards ceremony also featured memorial tributes to Mrs Margaret Thorsborne AO and Mr Peter Hitchcock AM, two environmental advocates for the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area.

Margaret Thorsborne was a previous recipient of the Cassowary Award for Community Conservation, which was renamed the Thorsborne Award in 2016 to acknowledge Margaret and her late husband Arthur’s contributions to the Wet Tropics.

Peter Hitchcock was the inaugural Executive Director of the Wet Tropics Management Authority, who made remarkable contributions to conservation and World Heritage on a global scale.

Wet Tropics Management Authority’s Chair, Leslie Shirreffs presented the special Chair’s Award to Allison Halliday.

‘This year I was honoured to present the Chair’s Award to an amazing leader—Allison Halliday—a Malanbarra Yidinji Traditional Owner, who has provided a strong, unwavering voice for Rainforest Aboriginal People,’ Ms Shirreffs said.  

‘We are so grateful for Allison’s extensive contributions and the outcomes she has successfully pursued to benefit Rainforest Aboriginal People and the Wet Tropics.’


2019 Cassowary Award recipients, The Honourable Leeanne Enoch MP and Leslie Shirreffs, Chair of the Wet Tropics Managment Authority 

2019 Cassowary Award recipients

Thorsborne Award for Community Conservation and Rehabilitation | Sponsored by Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service, Department of Environment and Science

Bonadio Partnership. The Bonadio family are committed to conservation on the Atherton Tableland. In partnership with the Barron Catchment Carers Green Corridor Project, they revegetated around 20 acres of critically endangered Mabi forest on their farming land, creating a 1.5km corridor along the Barron River, now known as the Mabi Wildlife Reserve. The family raise awareness of the importance of Mabi forest by hosting tourism visitors, school field trips and science studies. A wonderful intergenerational effort, it has reduced erosion, improved water quality and increased wildlife abundance, as well as inspired other landholders to undertake rehabilitation on their properties.


Tourism and Presentation | Sponsored by Skyrail Rainforest Cableway

Mandingalbay Ancient Indigenous Tours. Through their day tours, Deadly Dinners and short stay holidays, Mandingalbay Ancient Indigenous Tours have combined reef and rainforest, bushfoods and medicines with World Heritage and cultural values to establish a unique visitor experience. The tours showcase the World Heritage Area in an exciting and engaging fashion. A unique and clever offering for visitors to the region, the tours are setting a new benchmark for cultural experiences in the Wet Tropics, with plans to grow the product while continuing to provide benefits to country, its people and tourism.


Innovation | Sponsored by Stanwell Corporation

Dr David Westcott. Across some 20 years, David’s research on key World Heritage values has provided significant understanding of the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area, supporting its management. A strong participant in community education and conservation awareness, it is his pioneering work using innovative tracing and predictive modelling that has influenced the management and conservation of cassowary populations and flying fox colonies—invaluable to the viability of these endangered species. 


Education | Sponsored by Terrain NRM

Children for Change. Children for Change promotes environmental and sustainability concepts through educating children in a fun after-school program, the AICE Club. Mia and Sylvia Conway use innovative hands-on activities, excursions and special guest educators to create awareness of World Heritage values and undertake valuable environmental work. With strong established partnerships across business and natural resource management groups, the program fosters a deeper connection with the natural world, with enthusiastic results from children and their parents.


People. Country. Culture. | Sponsored by North Queensland Land Council

Elizabeth ‘Betty’ Cashmere. Betty is a strong voice for the Jirrbal people, advocating strongly for the aspirations of her people on country. She holds, and willingly shares, a great depth and breadth of knowledge about her beloved Jirrbal country within the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area. Betty plays a strong role in the region through her Aboriginal art and tour guiding businesses, fulfilling her role as cultural heritage officer for Wabubadda and contributing to a wide range of committees, corporations and organisations. She is dedicated to protecting and caring for her country, while ensuring cultural knowledge is passed onto the next generation.


Community Champions | Sponsored by Queensland Water and Land Carers

Phil Staley. Phil, the Mornings presenter for ABC Far North Queensland, has been a long term advocate for the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area. He established the ‘Conservations’ show over 13 years, raising awareness of a wide array of environmental and World Heritage issues. Last year, Phil created a ground-breaking hour-long national radio documentary exploring 30 years of the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area. Over three months, he sought out people from all sectors and walks of life, travelling far and wide across the Wet Tropics. The resultant program was broadcast nationally, bringing the rainforest to life for listeners with his insightful and entertaining commentary while raising the Area’s national profile.


Local Government & Industry Initiatives | Sponsored by Powerlink

Gillies Range Road Litter and Illegal Dumping Prevention Project Collaboration Team. This project shows how collaboration across governments and communities can bring excellent results. First raised and driven by community member Siggy Heise-Pavlov, the Department of Environment and Science took the lead on a cooperative action plan with Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service, Department of Transport and Main Roads, Terrain NRM, Cairns City Council, Tablelands Regional Council and community members to reduce roadside litter and illegal dumping along the Gillies Range Road in the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area. The campaign involved television news stories, radio and newspaper ads, a social media campaign, posters and brochures, innovative signs and a large-scale clean-up that saw volumes of old cars, plastics and rubbish removed.


Climate Change Leadership | Sponsored by CQUniversity Centre for Tourism and Regional Opportunities

Jaragun Natural Resource Management. Jaragun Natural Resource Management works in the Russell River catchment to improve water quality, maintain unique Wet Tropics biodiversity and provide for ecological succession and adaptation to climate change. Based in Babinda, the organisation has been involved in riparian and corridor restoration for environmental and climate resilience co-benefits over many years. The Babinda Reef Carbon Project—a pilot project developed by GreenCollar and Jaragun NRM—is one of the first projects to produce reef credits. It involves replanting rainforest and rebuilding wetlands, allowing nature to act as a water filter. Jaragun NRM works innovatively to address climate change and build a resilient landscape.


Young Cassowary Award | Sponsored by Daintree Discovery Centre

Malanda Primary School. Under the school’s science and enrichment program, Malanda Primary School students have embarked on a number of innovative and practical projects including Jaz Bags (handmade recycled bags), Bee Kind (educating the community about native bees), Wildlife Watch (with camera traps, student surveys and a critter club), Energy Wise (reducing the school’s carbon footprint), Cassowary Care (an education program), and Yum Tum Garden (growing produce for the tuckshop). Through the diverse environment projects they are doing, the school and its exceptional students show strong leadership on promotion of biodiversity and sustainability with flow-on benefits to the World Heritage community.


Chair’s Award

Allison Halliday. As a Malanbarra Yidinji Traditional Owner, Allison provides a strong, unwavering voice for Rainforest Aboriginal People in the Wet Tropics. She has taken on leadership roles with innumerable committees and organisations since the establishment of the Rainforest Aboriginal Network in 1992. Allison has been particularly pivotal in the initial negotiations, as well as the current refresh, of the Wet Tropics Regional Agreement, and was instrumental in the campaign to have cultural values of the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area recognised on the National Heritage list. As a previous Director of both the Wet Tropics Management Authority and Terrain NRM, she has been steadfast in her advocacy for the bio-cultural values of the Wet Tropics and the importance of traditional knowledge in the management of the rainforest. Allison, always mindfully guided by the aspirations and work of her Elders, tirelessly advocates for the rights and interests of all Rainforest Aboriginal People in the Wet Tropics.


About the Cassowary Awards

The Wet Tropics Management Authority’s Cassowary Awards were established in 1999 to celebrate and support the outstanding contributions made towards the conservation and preservation of the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area.

The Awards seek to recognise exceptional conservation efforts from a diverse range of individuals, groups and organisations including farmers, conservationists, students and educational bodies as well as scientists, artists and tourism operators. Recipients are announced at a special ceremony.

In 2019, the Awards were hosted by Gold Sponsor, Tjapukai Aboriginal Cultural Park, on Saturday 15 June and the impressive graphic displays were created by Gold Sponsor Shonart.

Cassowary Awards applaud outstanding Wet Tropics contributions

Published: 17th Jun 2019

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