The 2019 Cassowary Awards was held at Tjapukai Aboriginal Cultural Park on Saturday 15 June. The remarkable lineup of award winners for the 10 award categories are listed below.
Thorsborne Award for Community Conservation & Rehabilitation
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. It is a wonderful intergenerational effort, which has reduced erosion, improved water quality and increased wildlife abundance, as well as inspired other landholders to undertake rehabilitation on their properties.
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. It is a unique and clever offering for visitors to the region, 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.
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 predicative modelling that has influenced the management and conservation of cassowary populations and flying fox colonies—invaluable to the viability of these endangered species.
Mia and Sylvia Conway (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 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.
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.
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.
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 signage and a large-scale clean-up that saw volumes of old cars, plastics and rubbish removed.
Jaragun NRM (Liz Owen and Dennis Ah-Kee)
Jaragun NRM 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.
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 with surveys, facebook page and an app), 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.
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 many 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. 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.