The 2021 Cassowary Awards were held at Tjapukai Aboriginal Cultural Park on Saturday 15 June. Award winners and their achievements are featured below:
Thorsborne Award for Community Conservation and Rehabilitation
Cairns resident Lisa O’Mara has spent decades working in environmental protection in both paid and volunteer roles. Over the past 20 years, Lisa has worked for Treeforce facilitating countless volunteers to engage in extensive native revegetation. She has also been a long-standing leader in Mulgrave Landcare and many other community environment groups, including Landcare, Greening Australia and Clean Up Australia. From sourcing funding to organising tree-planting events, campaigning and even watering trees, Lisa is a Wet Tropics stalwart.
Kuranda Visitor Information Centre
Many of the volunteers and staff of the Kuranda Visitor Information Centre are Wet Tropics Guides, Wet Tropics Ambassadors and flying fox carers who are passionate about the Wet Tropics. Seven days a week they share their knowledge through the centre which has received many industry awards, including the Queensland Community Achievement Award for Customer Service. Established in 2000, the centre has strong working relationships with the local wildlife rescue groups, Savannah Guides and the Wet Tropics Management Authority.
Wet Tropics birder Dominic Chaplin has been a driving force for BirdLife Northern Queensland’s bowerbird monitoring project, volunteering to survey golden bowerbird bowers and tooth-billed bowerbird courts. He has traversed the Wet Tropics bioregion from Mount Finnigan in the north to Mount Elliot in the south. The project mapped the positions of around 100 golden bowerbird bowers and 650 tooth-billed bowerbird courts, providing important species distribution data. Dominic is also a contributing author in the upcoming Action Plan for Australian Birds.
One of the premier wildlife and environmental educators in Australia for the past 20 years, Jodie Creek has always showcased the Wet Tropics and its endemic flora and fauna. Founding Zoo to You14 years ago, Jodie provides an inspirational up-close educational experience, not just for children but for people of all ages and walks of life. During the COVID-19 restrictions, Jodie developed Australian Wildlife Education, an online learning portal for children, and for educators looking to expand their wildlife knowledge.
Barry Hunter is a Djabugay man and cultural leader who has worked in land management and cultural heritage for more than three decades. Barry demonstrates exceptional leadership using collaborative approaches in building community capacity to deliver sustainable social, cultural and economic outcomes through the application of traditional knowledge. Barry readily shares this traditional knowledge and makes it widely accessible. He has been a trail-blazer in raising awareness of Indigenous fire practices across Australia and the need to incorporate these into fire management regimes.
Daintree rainforest resident Adrian ‘Golly’ Watson has worked with the Rainforest Conservation Foundation since 2006. He demonstrates excellence in rehabilitation, conservation and preservation, as well as in education where his tours through Benella Rainforest Reserve educate students from around the world. Adrian’s work with cassowaries and other wildlife has also earned him the nickname 'the Cassowary Whisperer’. He collects seeds, plants trees, manages feral pigs and weeds, and works to discourage adverse behaviours of four-wheel drivers.
Tablelands Regional Council Community Revegetation Nursery
The Tablelands Regional Council Community Revegetation Nursery grows native rainforest species for revegetation projects. The dedication of staff and volunteers has resulted in more than 940,000trees planted and the creation of significant wildlife corridors linking isolated Wet Tropics vegetation remnants. It has gained a state, national and international reputation for the development and application of revegetation and restoration technologies through collaborative projects with Griffith University, Department of Environment and Science, Terrain NRM, and the Wet Tropics Management Authority.
Tropical Mountain Plant Science collaboration
Established in 2017, the Tropical Mountain Plant Science collaboration, led by the Australian Tropical Herbarium, is securing the future of Australia’s climate-threatened tropical mountaintop plants by building an ex-situ conservation reserve to ‘backup’ at-risk wild populations and support research and education. Seeds are being distributed across multiple Australian botanic gardens and seed banks. Project collaborators include: Western Yalanji Traditional Owners, Jabalbina Yalanji Aboriginal Corporation, Australian National Botanic Gardens and their Seed Bank, Plant Bank, the Wet Tropics Management Authority, Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service, Donna Davis (artist), the Royal Botanic Gardens and Domain Trust, and multiple Australian herbariums and botanical gardens.
Mission Beach State School
With a strong environmental focus , Mission Beach State School students are enthusiastically involved in multiple ongoing projects. Whether it’s creating roadside signs warning of cassowaries, rehabilitating wetlands, growing the sustainable school garden, recycling and involvement in Clean Up Australia Day, or writing and performing their song, ‘Mission Beach naturally—a magic place’ which describes the beauty and uniqueness of the Wet Tropics, these students are true champions of the Wet Tropics.
Tourism Tropical North Queensland
The 2021 Chair’s Award was given to Tourism Tropical North Queensland, for its work promoting sustainable tourism in the Area and for its participation in initiatives to pursue climate resilience for the Wet Tropics as a partner in the regional Green and Blue Stimulus initiative. More than 20 different organisations from throughout the region contributed to the Green and Blue initiative.