A Premier Visit

The Mission Beach Visitor Information Centre had the honour of launching the new Queensland Visitor Centre app on Monday 24th February with some very special guests. To help us spread the word was Premier Campbell Newman, Tourism Minister Jann Stuckey and Minister for Natural Resources and Mines, Andrew Cripps, along with a plethora of media.

launch of qld visitor centres app“The Premier and Minister for Tourism even signed the visitor book, which is going to be a hard act for anyone to follow!!” said the Visitor Centre Manager, Angi Matveyeff.

The new app makes it easy to find the next centre in whatever region you’re in within Queensland and it has fabulous local tips. “We’re literally now in the palm of visitors’ hands” Angi said. The app, designed to help visitors find a Queensland Accredited Visitor Information Centre can found by searching ‘info centre finder’ or visit www.queensland.com/vics.

All the Visitor Centres will also have information on how to download the app.

Album on Facebook.

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Time to Turn the Tide

“This is so right…….it hurts.”

With these words Chris Jahnke, Chairman of Mission Beach Business & Tourism closed one of the most amazing functions the region had seen for some considerable time.

turning the tideThe guest list at the official launch of Turning the Tide read like a Who’s Who of Tourism in Queensland and with good reason. ‘Turning the Tide’ will create a new interpretive complex to house the Wet Tropics Visitor Information Centre. It will gather all the elements of the story of the ‘Birth of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park’ in the tourist information area and focus on the Wet Tropics Rainforest in the environment area. This project has the capacity to once again position Mission Beach and the Cassowary Coast as a tourism gem in the North, a position that was compromised by two cyclones, Larry and Yasi in short succession.

Professor Iain McCalman, Author, Filmmaker and Historian from Sydney University, has agreed to present the story of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park creation using Augmented Reality. The high tech Interpretative Centre will use Google Glass style technology to tell the fascinating history and include multitude of facets of the Great Barrier Reef.

than 100 invited guests enjoyed superb and utterly exotic finger food prepared by Castaways Resort staff, while one speaker after another pledged their support. Praising the initiative and tenacity of Mission Beach Business and community in rising from the debris and despair of the Cyclone Yasi aftermath, the speakers said by pulling together and harnessing authentic and legitimate stories to rebuild, is a vital community tourism component of the economy.

Tourism Tropical North Queensland CEO Alex de Waal said “Certainly from TTNQ’s perspective I look very much forward to working with you all into the future and making sure this project becomes reality.”

David Morgans, Director of Development, Tourism and Events Queensland included that, “It’s an exciting time when we see projects like this coming ahead”. He congratulated the region on a project that really got to the heart of what our destination was about, explaining it was critical in terms of wowing our guests with its focus on the story of the Great Barrier Reef. “It’s your story, you own it, it’s what’s original about you and it’s authentic” he said.

Daniel Gschwind, another notable speaker from the Queensland Tourism Industry Council added, “When times are tough it’s even more obvious that we rely on each other”. He explained the importance of industry leaders who through sheer determination turn things around, ‘Turning the Tide’, if you like” he said.

Mayor Bill Shannon summed up the project with, “Turning the Tide links with Council plans and it’s totally consistent with State and Federal initiatives”.

The next stage of the project is to seek funds to make these aspirations a reality and so enable business and community to flourish once again.

Turning the Tide launch on Youtube

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Courage and Resilience

"mission beach visitor information centre" Far from collapsing, the affected communities have responded with extraordinary courage and resilience. Offered some State Government and private philanthropic redevelopment funds, they have come up with the ‘Turning the Tide’ Project, which works inspirationally to secure the region’s future utilising the Mission Beach Wet Tropics Visitor Centre as a regional hub to showcase the location’s significance as the birthplace of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park and role of tropical foods in communities in Far North Queensland’.

An interpretation center, using cutting edge digital technologies, will tell the compelling stories that reveal the region to be a wet tropics environmental heartland, an inspirer of the modern Reef Marine Park, a preserver of the endangered Southern Cassowary, a fount of sustainable eco-tourism and tropical food produce, and a living archive of Reef heritage and history.

It is this exciting mandate, and the palpable energy and enthusiasm that drives its unique local collaboration of sustainable businesses and far-sighted conservationists, that has attracted me to want to help in ‘Turning the Tide’. This project shares my conviction that collaborations which fuse community idealism and enlightened self-interest represent our most realistic opportunity to protect the Reef and Rainforest, as well as to enable humans to enjoy and make sustainable livings among these wondrous environments.

To be continued …..

"professor iain mccalman"Professor Iain McCalman, Ambassador of Mission Beach Tourism’s Turning the Tide project. His new book, The Reef – A Passionate History, from Captain Cook to Climate Change, has been published by Penguin in Australia in November and by Farrar, Strauss and Giroux in the USA in May 2014.

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A Complex Struggle

There is neither time nor space here to detail the complex struggle that eventually won the trio the support of the majority of Queenslanders and of the Australian nation. It is enough to say that John Busst and his Mission Beach supporters stood in the vanguard of the triumphant movement to save the Reef.

"harold holt" "mission beach"John successfully lobbied Harold Holt (pictured) and, after his death, the Liberal and Labour Party successors, John Gorton and Gough Whitlam, to test the sovereignty of the Reef in the courts. He wrote barrages of impassioned and informed letters to newspapers and other media all over the country. He was the chief advocate of the urgent need for a government funded marine research center that eventually became the Australian Institute of Marine Science in Townsville. He even wrote to the President of the United States, Lyndon Baines Johnson, urging him to give his support to a scheme for the foundation of a Great Barrier Reef Marine Park in memory of Harold Holt, whose death had cost the Reef’s one of its most influential political supporters.

Much of John’s exhausting advocacy was undertaken, too, while he was struggling with the onset of throat cancer, a disease that ultimately took his life just as he was preparing to give evidence to the Royal Commission to inquire into mining on the Reef. Though he did not live to see the fruits of his campaign, his story and his wonderful heritage house at Ninney Rise stands as an inspiring symbol to the Mission Beach community and others. A moving local memorial composed by Judith Wright commemorates his memory: ‘John Busst/ Artist and Lover of Beauty/Who Fought that Man and Nature Might Survive.

Yet John Busst’s is not the only inspirational story that has come out of this lovely place and the people who live here. While concluding the book I also became aware of the region’s involvement in another, more current, struggle. This time Mission Beach has been forced to fight for its very survival and regeneration in the face of near obliteration by two massive and successive cyclones. For those of us who have not experienced disasters on this scale, the environmental, economic, cultural and psychic damage they engender is almost unimaginable. First Cyclone Larry, then six years later, Cyclone Yasi, literally tore Mission Beach and many of other parts of the Cassowary Coast region to shreds. Tourism, the keystone of the region’s economy was especially hard hit.

To be continued …..

"professor iain mccalman"Professor Iain McCalman, Ambassador of Mission Beach Tourism’s Turning the Tide project. His new book, The Reef – A Passionate History, from Captain Cook to Climate Change, has been published by Penguin in Australia in November and by Farrar, Strauss and Giroux in the USA in May 2014.

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John Busst moves to Ninney Rise

On the night that the Busst’s first moved their belongings into Ninney Rise, however, they learned that a substantial patch of rainforest at the rear of the house had been co opted by the army for exercises in defoliant bombing. Determined to fight this violation of their local environment, they recruited to their cause a close friend called Len Webb. He was a CSIRO forester, a passionate rainforest ecologist and Vice President of the newly formed Queensland Wildlife Preservation Society. Len in turn introduced them to the Society’s President, the brilliant poet Judith Wright, who encouraged John to open a new local branch of the Society centered at the nearby cane town of Innisfail.

"john busst" "mission beach" John soon proved to be an energetic and persuasive campaigner for local environments, demonstrating exceptional skills in lobbying, organizing and communicating. His fiery letters against the indiscriminate use of chemical weed killers and water pollutants and the rampant clearing of ancient forest trees soon earned him the proud nickname of ‘The Bingil Bay Bastard.’ His keen eyes also noticed in 1967 that a Cairns sugar cane farmer had applied to the Queensland Government to mine a supposedly dead reef, called Ellison, for cheap limestone fertilizer. Sensing that this would become a precedent for much more extensive oil and gas mining, John determined to fight the case. With the assistance of Judith Wright, the Busst’s house Ninney Rise became the headquarters of a local and national campaign to prove that Ellison was actually a living hub of biodiversity and the habitat of a unique species of Queensland mollusc. John mobilized the Mission Beach and Innisfail communities into supporting and funding a group of young student biologists from Brisbane to conduct an underwater survey of Ellison Reef, which eventually helped to win the case.

Ellison proved to be the opening skirmish of a twenty-year popular conservationist war led primarily by Judith, John and Len, which aimed to prevent the uncontrolled oil, gas and limestone mining of eighty percent of the Great Barrier Reef. Plans for indiscriminate resource plundering threatened to endanger the ecological beauties, scientific wonders, living communities, and sustainable industries of the largest organic phenomenon on the planet, a uniquely beautiful marine and coastal region larger than Britain and Ireland together.

To be continued …..

Photo of John & Alison Busst at Ninney Rise ; State Library of Victoria

"professor iain mccalman"Professor Iain McCalman
Ambassador of Mission Beach Tourism’s Turning the Tide project. His new book, The Reef – A Passionate History, from Captain Cook to Climate Change, has been published by Penguin in Australia in November and by Farrar, Strauss and Giroux in the USA in May 2014.

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The Reef – A Passionate History

Some three years ago, when researching my new book The Reef – A Passionate History (2013), I first encountered the dazzling tropical wetlands region of islands, rivers, beaches and rainforest that makes up the Cassowary Coast. I learnt, too, that Mission Beach was the cradle of the most important and inspiring story of modern Barrier Reef history — a twenty-year struggle by a handful of big-hearted Australians to bring about the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park. They sparked and drove the campaign to bring about the world’s largest multi-use marine reserve, combining both ecological protection and sustainable business. It was declared by joint Federal and Queensland State legislation in 1975 and gained World Heritage listing soon after, as ‘the most impressive marine area in the world’.

"ninney rise" "liz gallie" The person who initiated that long struggle was John Busst, an artist who’d moved to Bingil Bay in 1956 and built Australia’s first ever cyclone-proof house on a rain forested hill not far from Clump Point. He and wife Alison called their Mission Beach house Ninney Rise. With its white and blue trim, bamboo ceilings, wide verandahs and sweeping views of ancient rainforest and shimmering sea, this many-roomed heritage bungalow now symbolizes the role played by this region in creating one of the world’s greatest environmental jewels.

Before this, the Bussts had been in the vanguard of a movement of Post Second World War artists who lived unconstrained lives and painted land and seascapes on Timana, Bedarra and Dunk Islands, the lovely trio of ‘Family Group’ islands that lies off Mission Beach. After staying on Bedarra for nearly twenty years, and introducing their best friends, Liberal Prime Minister Harold Holt and his wife Zara, to the delights of swimming, snorkeling and sailing there, the Bussts had eventually been drawn to the mainland by its greater seclusion and its special beauty. Soon, they also persuaded the Holts to emulate them in building a Mission Beach bungalow, overlooking, beach, sea and forest.

To be continued ……

Photo of Ninney Rise courtesy of Liz Gallie

"professor iain mccalman"Professor Iain McCalmanAmbassador of Mission Beach Tourism’s Turning the Tide project. His new book, The Reef – A Passionate History, from Captain Cook to Climate Change, has been published by Penguin in Australia in November and by Farrar, Strauss and Giroux in the USA in May 2014.

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The Licuala Fan Palm

The sun dapples through the Licuala Fan Palms in the Wet Tropics rainforest, like a stained glass ceiling of green.

"licuala fan palm" "wet tropics world heritage area"Soft breezes caress fronds, flowers and fruit and amongst their offerings, soft feathers hush. Small drops of water from a previous shower fall and disturb ants foraging in the rubble among the roots.

A big green butterfly, as green as the fan palm fronds themselves, glides silently past, pertly avoiding sticky spider webs and a lurking robber fly.

There’s a lot going on between the layers of the Licuala Fan Palm with lichen encrusting the pillar-like trunks and fungi blooming in its shadow.

Licuala Fan Palm’s live here in our Wet Tropics World Heritage Area, they provide homes and food for animals and their beauty captivates artists.

We live here with them at the Wet Tropics Visitor Information Centre where we can enjoy their richness any time we want.

Aren’t we lucky!!

Author: Angi Matveyeff

"wet tropics world heritage area" "25th anniversary"Explore your Wet Tropics World Heritage Area today!

Take the opportunity to immerse yourself in the inner depths of some of the world’s oldest, continually surviving rainforests. Get up close and personal with rare plants and animals, marvel at some of the worlds’ most breathtaking scenery, and celebrate being in far north Queensland.

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The Kennedy Track

The Track’s Back

"kennedy track" "mission beach"I love the Kennedy Track, I always have. My love affair with this beautiful, moderately challenging track began in early November 2003, and seeded my passion for North Queensland. Arriving in Mission Beach in our caravan with our two youngest sons, we set up camp at the Beachcomber Coconuts Caravan Park in South Mission Beach. With that job done, we then set out to buy a bottle of milk, instead we bought a house. The next day we walked the Kennedy Track and lovely was shortened to love.

I try to walk this track I love, with its magnificent trees that greet me along the way like an old friend as often as possible. A few of the uphill climbs leave me a little breathless but that pales into insignificance compared to the gob smacking, breath taking beauty that greets me every step of the way. Long stretches of beach, rainforest that grows on the water’s edge, old mangroves and creeks, little waterfalls at the right time of year, island vistas, splashes in the water that tell me that there’s stuff going on and secret, private places for me to rest, reflect and relish. There is always wildlife on this track, happy to ignore me while they go about doing their thing, and most times I come across another person to wave to and say hello.

"kennedy track" "mission beach"But it’s also the human connection on this track that creates another layer for me. I think about the original owners of this place, the Djuru and how they would have enjoyed its richness. And sadly the terrible injustices inflicted on them in this place. I think about the first white explorer, the tracks namesake, and how he tried to forge his way through this place. I think about the small group of local people who in 1988 built sections of it by hand so I can walk this track with a degree of comfort.

Nature has also had her say here. In the last decade, two major cyclones ripped through, forcing the Kennedy Track to close. It’s a people owned track and both times our council found the funds to repair and restore. Thank you!

As a result, The Kennedy Track is open and available with sections that include wheel chair access. It’s a place for all of us and for all reasons. A place to marry, celebrate the birth of a child, to say hello or goodbye, a place to fish, rest or exercise, a place to enjoy. Above all, for me, it’s a place to love.

The Kennedy Track is proof that the best things in life are free.

Author: Angi Matveyeff

Access Kennedy Esplanade South Mission Beach (near boat ramp)
Length 1.2km Lugger Bay
2.1km Morgans Lookout (Tam O’Shanter Point)
2.7km Turtle Bay
3.5km Kennedy Bay
Total 7km
Track grade Moderate fitness
High mobility
What to bring Water, hat, sunscreen, camera. Lots of places to have a picnic.

Please note No swimming, stingers can be present from Nov to June. Crocodiles can inhabit this area. Cassowaries frequent this track. There are no rubbish bins provided, please take your rubbish with you.

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Australian Native Fruits

Many times during our Tropical Fruit Safari, we are asked why we don’t have many Australian native fruits for tasting. The short answer is, you wouldn’t like them. Whilst the birds and small native animals might enjoy them, they are not really palatable as a fresh eating fruit. Many, such as small fruits and berries are better used in jams, savoury/sweet sauces, jellies and flavourings for dairy products such as yoghurts and ice-cream. Many of our native fruits of the forest are staple food for Cassowaries. Germination of some seeds is much easier if it has passed through the gut of this giant rainforest bird.

"finger limes" "mission beach tropical fruit safari"Some of the native fruits and berries that grow in Australia:

Cedar Bay Cherry – a native lilly pilly, having bulbous red/orange fruit with juicy and flavour filled white pulp. One of the few that can be eaten. Delicious soft sweet flesh. Red/orange.

Lemon Aspen or Wild Lime: An evergreen tree – small white fruits. Strong lemon flavour with tropical spices. Wonderful aroma. Used for perfumes, skin creams, oils, cooking.

Davidson Plum: Grows in tropical rainforests. Purple, small eggshape. Very sour, acidy. Used for making jams, sauces and wines.

Finger Limes (pictured) – finger shaped fruits with a cavier- like centre that literally bursts forth its flavours. Very strong and aromatic and used mainly in cooking. A chef’s delight.

Blue Quangdong – grows in the rainforests of the tropical north. Deep purply blue in colour, the Cassowaries love these. Very attractive fruit.

Native orange, pear, rosella, riberry as well as wild herb, salad and some leaf crops.

Whilst we do not have a lot of these for display in our presentation, there is ongoing research into Australian native food plants which have potential for development and this will continue.

Mission Beach Tropical Fruit Safari Monday and Tuesday at 1pm sharp. Arrive and register prior to 12.45pm.

Terri Scarborough
Tropical Fruit Safari Presenter

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Cashew Nuts and Apple

North East Brazil

Cashews have always been a favourite in my household but do you know how they grow? They have a very unusual beginning to life. The Cashew “nut” grows out of a strange looking Cashew “apple”, which is nutrient rich, and is eaten fresh, used in curries or fermented into vinegar. Some even make from it an alcoholic drink.

Cashew apples are yellowish red and shaped like a bell pepper, and are also used to make jams, preserves and chutneys in countries such as India and Brazil. South American natives consider the apple a delicacy but it does have a highly astringent flavour which comes from the waxy skin and can cause tongue and throat irritation. This can be removed by steaming or boiling for five minutes in salted water, then washing the fruit in cold water. This at least makes it more palatable.

However the best part of the Cashew Tree is the drupe which emerges from the top of the apple. Within that drupe is the true seed or nut which is kidney shaped and pale in colour. This nut is surrounded by a double layer of shell which contains an allergenic resin called Anacardic Acid, a toxin and skin irritant. Roasting the nut and its shell destroys this toxin, and even this must be done outdoors as the smoke can cause allergic reactions and irritation to the lungs. For this reason, we will never see Cashews for sale with their shells intact. Have you ever wondered?

The nut itself, when roasted, is soft and sweet by comparison to some, and is delicious when salted. A strange beginning, but a favourite with many.

Mission Beach Tropical Fruit Safari Monday and Tuesday at 1pm sharp. Arrive and register prior to 12.45pm.

Terri Scarborough
Tropical Fruit Safari Presenter

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