In a beautiful synergy on Great Keppel Island, a 25-year-old boardwalk which provides protection for an Aboriginal midden site on GKI was demolished and replaced and the work was all thanks to a group of young volunteers and amazing local businesses and organisations committed to caring for the protection of the site as well as the cultural and environmental outcomes.
The Coastcare project has helped to protect an at-risk Aboriginal midden site which contains 300-year-old artifacts. Bunnings collaborated with Landcare Australia, Capricornia Catchments, Gen Yadaba, Livingstone Shire Council and the Woppaburra traditional owners on this Coastcare restoration project.
The midden is of significant cultural value to the Woppaburra People, with artefacts uncovered during archaeological studies of the 1980s dating back hundreds of years.
As part of the Coastcare project, volunteers aged 18-28 years were invited to apply for the opportunity to learn D.I.Y skills from Bunnings’ team members as they worked to construct a boardwalk to help protect the site.
The volunteers spent time with the Woppaburra Elders learning about the island’s cultural heritage and the importance of caring for their local environment. Capricorn Catchments project Coordinator Shelly McArdle said the huge task began on May 6 when Job’s QLD trainees constructed 39 x 240kg palletised components.
It was all hands on deck for The Boardwalk Project on Great Keppel Island
“Half way through the construction the weather forecast turned bad and we were advised by Marine Parks that we needed to move quickly to transport the pallets in the small window of time we had available,” Ms McArdle said.
“Just when it looked like it would be impossible the crew from Keppel Barge came to the rescue offering a loader and barge free of charge, so we had a tag team of people running the barges back and forth from the island. By Friday May 10 we had all the materials on the island just two days before the project was due to begin.
“On May 13 work began with the demolition of the old boardwalk and the start of the construction of the new while also preparing the site so disturbance of the sites cultural values was kept to a minimum. While enduring the difficulty involved in working on a remote site, the team set up the site in readiness for the work crew on the weekend of May 18-19.
“This was without doubt one of the most challenging projects to bring together but with everyone working together we achieved an outstanding outcome.”
James Link, Landcare Australia Head of Corporate Partnerships said Landcare Australia is excited to be able to facilitate a D.I.Y. environmental construction project, engaging young people and the local community.
Plenty of hard work was put into The Boardwalk Project by the Woppaburra Traditional Owners
“The support Bunnings is providing is an example of the importance of partnerships to make projects like this a reality,” Mr Link said. “Over the weekend, volunteers also heard from Woppaburra Elders about the Island’s Indigenous cultural heritage and learnt about the ecological values of the Keppel Bay Islands and surrounding reefs.”
Bunnings’ Queensland State Operations Manager, Kent Payne, said the team is proud to be part of a project that has genuine community and environmental outcomes.
“Being able to share our D.I.Y. knowledge and skills with the volunteers that they can take away with them was a real pleasure. We look forward to continuing to work on similar future projects, as this has been a fantastic opportunity to empower young people with D.I.Y. skills whilst getting involved in their community.”
In addition to the volunteers, there were many others on the day, including Bunnings team members from Rockhampton and Yeppoon, helping to construct and install the 120-metre boardwalk to protect against foot traffic erosion. Jobs Queensland general manager Chamay Bauer said the team did an amazing job in sometimes very trying conditions on the island but the experience will benefit their employability greatly.
“The project presented them an opportunity to increase their skill development and work with a community-based team to achieve a great result for all concerned,” she said.
The work was undertaken with great care to limit any disturbance and has been designed to protect the site for many years to come. There were 14 young people aged between 18-28 who volunteered in the community project plus many others lending a helping hand.
BEFORE: The Boardwalk on Great Keppel was definitely in need of a upgrade
AFTER: The finished product was a huge success thanks to a huge team effort!
Contibutors to the project
Woppaburra Traditional owners
Bunnings local and head office
LSC with both staff and material support
GKI Holiday Village
Christopher Robin Catering