On 11 February, as part of a two-day board meeting, the Wet Tropics Management Authority board travelled to a number of sites around Kuranda to observe first hand some of the issues in that area.
First the board met with some of the dedicated volunteers at Russett Park who are banding together to carry out the Yellow Crazy Ant Eradication Program for that area. The coordinator of the group, Mikhaila Jacobi, welcomed the board into her house and with other volunteers Neil Boland and Ray Pearce (Kuranda Envirocare) explained the effort that the volunteers are bringing to the program. Dr Lori Loch (JCU) and Angela Strain (Conservation Volunteers) talked about their important role in this program.
The board learnt that volunteers ranging from 15 years old to 75 years young were getting out and, with the support of the Authority, baiting for ants and monitoring their results. The board were very impressed with the work being carried out and re-affirmed their strong support for yellow crazy ant eradication. They feel that the story of these dedicated locals should be receiving broader attention as it highlights the effectiveness of community will.
The board visited the Kuranda Information Centre to discuss tourism issues and opportunities with centre staff, tourism officers and members of local council. It was agreed that continued partnerships were important to develop more meaningful products to promote the World Heritage area and its outstanding universal values.
The board also met with Djabugay Tribal Aboriginal Corporation at the Skyrail Rainforest Cableway Barron Falls Station to learn about the programs Djabugay people have been engaged in, and discussed future aspirations for tourism and culture. The board felt very lucky to receive a personal tour into Djabugay country with a well-trained tour guide. It was disappointing to hear that this particular tourism product was no longer available due to economic pressures. The board agreed that it has a role in working with partners to assist in the development of greater economic opportunities for Rainforest Aboriginal people.
On return to Cairns, the board met with Mr Craig Crawford MP, Member for Barron River, to discuss his vision for a revamping of the Henry Ross lookout on the Kuranda Range road. Interpretation signage, rehabilitation and additional infrastructure were considered at the site as a key presentation opportunity. There was agreement amongst all that the lookout is a great regional asset with an amazing view from one World Heritage Area looking out to another. The Authority is committed to working collaboratively to ensure the community can benefit from this asset.