Birketts sell their Dis­cov­ery Cen­tre

Port Douglas & Mossman Gazette - - NEWS - Shane Ni­chols

THE award-win­ning Dain­tree Dis­cov­ery Cen­tre has been sold to an indige­nous or­gan­i­sa­tion, the Abo­rig­i­nal Devel­op­ment Ben­e­fits Trust (ADBT), bring­ing to a close the 30-year own­er­ship by its founders, Ron and Pam Bir­kett.

ADBT, which is based in the Lower Gulf, was es­tab­lished un­der the Gulf Com­mu­ni­ties Agree­ment ne­go­ti­ated be­tween Cen­tury Mine, the Queens­land Gov­ern­ment and Gulf na­tive ti­tle groups.

Its role is to ad­min­is­ter funds from the Cen­tury Mine, pri­mar­ily for busi­ness devel­op­ment and indige­nous own­er­ship/in­vest­ment in busi­ness, while also help­ing to build eco­nomic em­pow­er­ment for lo­cal indige­nous Aus­tralians and their com­mu­ni­ties.

ADBT has been quick to say that it will be “busi­ness as usual” at the renowned tourist fa­cil­ity, with no op­er­a­tional changes on the ground.

“We are all very ex­cited to con­tinue work­ing with the fab­u­lous staff who have made the busi­ness a huge suc­cess,” saird the chair­man of the ADBT, Peter Cameron when the news of the sale was re­leased on Tues­day.

“The pur­chase of the Dis­cov­ery Cen­tre of­fers huge po­ten­tial for ADBT to fur­ther de­velop its com­mu­nity, youth and en­trepreneur­ship pro­grams within the Lower Gulf,” Mr Cameron said.

“Es­tab­lished in 1989, the Dis­cov­ery Cen­tre is recog­nised as a leader in the field of eco­tourism, and in par­tic­u­lar, en­vi­ron­men­tal con­ser­va­tion.

“Not only does it show­case the old­est rain­for­est on the planet in a sus­tain­able and en­vi­ron­men­tally sen­si­tive man­ner, but its work to pre­serve this frag­ile eco sys­tem through sci­en­tific re­search, reveg­e­ta­tion pro­grams and other car­bon re­duc­tion ini­tia­tives goes way be­yond just tree plant­ing.”

ADBT also op­er­ates the Doomadgee Road­house and Ac­com­mo­da­tion Units and part­ners with an­other Nor­man­ton Abo­rig­i­nal or­gan­i­sa­tion to man­age Nor­man­ton Traders in the Gulf.

For Pam and Ron Bir­kett there hasn’t been much the Dis­cov­ery Cen­tre hasn’t seen since it was of­fi­cially opened in June 1989 and to­day’s an­nounce­ment marked the next step in the busi­ness’ fu­ture.

“Ron and I have had 27 won­der­ful years de­sign­ing and de­vel­op­ing the Dis­cov­ery Cen­tre from scratch and it’s go­ing to be hard to ‘cut the um­bil­i­cal cord’, but we were par­tic­u­larly pleased when ADBT ex­pressed an in­ter­est in pur­chas­ing the busi­ness. It couldn’t have been a bet­ter fit,” Mrs Bir­kett said.

“When we look back over the past three decades there is so much to cel­e­brate, just be­ing crazy (or smart) enough to build an en­vi­ron­men­tal cen­tre in a trop­i­cal wilder­ness in the 1980s was an out­stand­ing achieve­ment.

“We were just two or­di­nary work­ing peo­ple who had a vi­sion. We wanted to cre­ate some­thing spe­cial and to­day the Dis­cov­ery Cen­tre is more than we could have hoped for.”

Pic­ture: SHANE NI­CHOLS

Moss­man and Port Dou­glas teenagers join Benny and the Clones in the mu­sic work­shop

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