News & Media
After almost 30 years under the ownership of founders Ron and Pam Birkett, the Daintree Discovery Centre has been sold to the Aboriginal Development Benefits Trust (ADBT).
Peter Cameron, chair of the ADBT, said the Daintree Discovery Centre was an award-winning world class interpretive facility with an established reputation in the tourism industry and was an important acquisition for the Trust’s portfolio.
ADBT, which is based in the Lower Gulf of Queensland, was established under the Gulf Communities Agreement negotiated between Century Mine, the Queensland State 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.
“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 widely 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.
“It will be business as usual at the Discovery Centre, 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.”
“It has been a busy start to the tourism season and we are looking forward to this continuing over the coming months as we track into August and then September for the next school holiday period,” Mr Cameron added.
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 1980’s 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.”
Mr Birkett said building a strong, happy and dedicated team had always given them tremendous pleasure and continued industry recognition had reinforced the success of the business.
“Although it has always been our aim to work on the business, not in the business, it is great to be able to hand over to ADBT.
“We are now looking forward to being able to spend more time travelling and Pam is keen to give her new golf clubs an airing,” he said.
For more information on ADBT visit www.adbt.com.au or the Daintree Discovery Centre visit www.discoverthedaintree.com.
For interview requests, please contact:
0417 202 663
There will be adventures of pre-historic proportions as the Daintree Discovery Centre (DDC) steps back in time more than 65 million years ago with the opening of its two newest attractions – The Jurassic Forest and Interpretive Centre.
Daintree Discovery Centre director Ron Birkett said The Jurassic Forest would transport visitors to a time when giant carnivorous dinosaurs and mega fauna roamed the ancient rainforests of Queensland.
A seven-metre long Ripper Lizard, a Giant Thunderbird and a dynamic Diprotodon are among the life-size animated creatures on display at the new state-of-the-art exhibit, which has been completed at a cost of more than $250,000.
“Dinosaurs have an important role to play in helping visitors understand and appreciate the incredible age of the Daintree.
“We don’t know why the dinosaurs disappeared but many scientists believe it was due to cataclysmic changes in the climate.
“The new Interpretive Centre helps to explain how climate change affects the environment and the role it played in the extinction of dinosaurs.”
The seven dinosaurs and mega fauna on display are believed to be the remnants of a special group that lived in various parts of Queensland around the Jurassic Period.
“They have been built around scientific data and the best we can tell are realistic replicas,” Mr Birkett added.
“They were imported from overseas and staff at the Discovery Centre Centre have been busy installing them over the past few weeks.”
Mr Birkett said The Jurassic Forest and the Interpretive Centre was just another example of the Daintree Discovery Centre’s ongoing work to add to the visitor experience.
Opened to the public in 1989, The Daintree Discovery Centre is recognised as a world-leader in eco-tourism and is a major attraction north of the Daintree River.
“Visitors are on holidays and generally want to be entertained and there is nothing more exciting than dinosaurs to get their imaginative juices flowing.
“Everyone loves a dinosaur, but ours carry an added bonus – they will remind people about the fragility of the environment and the need for us to do what we can to protect it.
“Not only that, their tails wag, their arms move and their claws look like they are going to reach out and grab you. Watch out as you approach them, they may just let out a gentle roar.”
Tourism Port Douglas and Daintree executive officer Tara Bennett said the opening of the Daintree Discovery Centre’s newest attraction would certainly be a hit for travellers.
“What a wonderful surprise – not only do visitors have the opportunity to learn about the oldest living rainforest on the planet, they now have the added bonus of seeing what these giant creatures of the rainforest may have looked like millions of years ago in an innovative and interactive way.”
Ms Bennett recommended those visiting north of the Daintree River to allow at least two nights for their stay.
“Along with the Daintree Discovery Centre there are some great attractions to experience and more than a day is needed to truly immerse yourself in the rainforest,” she said.
The world-class Daintree Discovery Centre has won Gold in the categories of ‘Tourist Attraction’ and ‘the Steve Irwin Award for Ecotourism’ at the recent Queensland Tourism Awards, held at the Brisbane Convention Centre on Friday night.
The Centre was one of four Daintree businesses to take out top honours at the prestigious awards, with fellow Daintree Operators Ocean Safari and Cape Tribulation Beach House Resort also collecting Gold awards for their outstanding tourism products.
Adam Smith collecting Double Gold on behalf of the Daintree Discovery Centre.
Daintree Discovery Centre’s Marketing Manager, Adam Smith, attended the 900 strong Gala Event with wife Jodie, and was delighted to collect the awards on behalf of the Centre.
“It was such a thrill for the Daintree Discovery Centre to be recognised once again by the state’s top tourism bodies as the leader in its field, not only for Ecotourism, but also as a fun, professional and exciting tourist attraction.”
“Founding Directors Pam and Ron Birkett began this world-class facility 26 years ago and the continued industry recognition is a true testament to the vision they have for sustainable ecotourism.”
“We couldn’t have done it without the dedication of our wonderful staff and the support of our local Tourism Organisations, TTNQ and Tourism Port Douglas Daintree. We are particularly proud to be part of an amazing destination, north of the Daintree River, that was awarded such a high concentration of Gold Awards.”
“We invite everyone to come and share what has been identified as one of the state’s top tourism experiences, in the heart of the world’s oldest rainforest.”
The Centre was awarded alongside many industry heavyweights including Bindi Irwin, who took out the “Young Achiever Award”.
The Daintree’s dominance on the night catapulted Tropical North Queensland’s award tally to 19, making it the most awarded region on the night, re-affirming its position as the premier tourism destination in the state
For Media Opportunities, Photos please contact:
Adam Smith – Marketing Manager
Or contact the Centre: (07) 4098 9171
Web: Daintree Rainforest
It was a very special day at the Daintree Discovery Centre yesterday with some lucky visitors being to treated to the experience of a lifetime – the mating of two wild Cassowaries.
Located in the heart of the Daintree Rainforest, 10km north of the Daintree River, the Discovery Centre is a regular hot-spot for viewing wild Southern Cassowaries.
It is part of a natural ‘Cassowary Corridor’ and full of gigantic rainforest trees that produce an abundance of rainforest fruits, including one of their favourite foods, the Cassowary Plum. Cassowaries are often observed at the Centre, searching for fallen fruit or drinking and bathing in McLean’s Creek as they try to escape the heat of the day, in the cool understory of the rainforest.
In the early afternoon, word went out that a Cassowary had been spotted and both staff and visitors gathered on the Aerial Walkway to watch a resident male Cassowary and his chick drinking in the creek. (It is the male that looks after the chick(s) until they are about 15 months old). But the main event was still to come!
Without warning, a large female Cassowary appeared from the dense rainforest and cautiously approached the male and his single offspring – right underneath the Centre’s Aerial Walkway and in full view of a very excited audience. And she didn’t bat an eyelid!
Adult Cassowaries are territorial birds and usually quite solitary by nature. Normally they will only tolerate each other during the breeding season, from June to October. However, staff had recently spotted these two adult birds courting each other, and were somewhat surprised to see the male still had a chick in tow.
‘Cue romantic Barry White music’ . . . and the events that transpired over the next 15mins left everyone gob smacked and scrambling for cameras.
To the amazement of the crowd, the huge female settled herself on the bank of the Creek, blatantly inviting the male to mate with her.
Cassowaries mating at the Daintree Discovery Centre.
Photo Credit: Mark Mitton
A group of around 50 visitors looked on in awe! At first, it was thought they were just courting but to everyone’s amazement the male mounted her – at least three times. The actual number of couplings was a topic of some contention as people jostled to get the best view, but what ever the number, this rare, albeit extraordinary encounter, left everyone speechless.
One visitor, Mark Mitton was lucky enough to capture the intimate moments in a series of still shots and was delighted to be able to share them with the rest of the world.
“I’m pretty happy! I managed to get some extraordinary shots. It was amazing.”
Founding Directors Ron and Pam Birkett who were also there, added perspective to the memorable event.
“In the 26 years since opening the Centre, we have never been fortunate enough to watch Cassowaries mating; so close, in the middle of the day and right in full view of visitors from all over the world. It just reinforces the value of building everything off the ground. Dozens of us had an uninterrupted view of this remarkable event, and the Cassowaries couldn’t have cared less!” remarked Pam “It is ecotourism at its best.”
The experience comes with exceptional timing as the region celebrates World Cassowary Day this Saturday. Official events are being held in Mission Beach this year (http://www.worldcassowaryday.com). The Daintree Discovery Centre is also celebrating with kids Cassowary face-painting, ‘Cassowary Poo’ Lollie bags, Poster giveaways and more.
“It is also a timely reminder for people to slow down on the roads these holidays.” adds Daintree Discovery Centre Marketing Manager, Adam Smith.
“We can all help the Cassowary by taking particular care when driving in Cassowary populated areas and making sure dogs and other animals are well secured. Cassowaries are still listed as an endangered species and like any wild animal should not be approached. Humans and dogs are the biggest threat to the decline in Cassowary numbers.”
“If people want to get involved with helping improve Cassowary numbers, they can help provide funding for vital rainforest revegetation projects that provide quality and most importantly, connected rainforest habitats.
Daintree Discovery Centre is proud to support fantastic organisations like Rainforest Rescue who, along with their volunteers, facilitate tree plantings in the heart of the Daintree”
With Cassowary sightings being recorded every second day on average this time of year, the Discovery Centre allows visitors the unique experience of viewing these wild animals from the safety of elevated aerial walkways and boardwalks, allowing the majestic creatures to go about their business undisturbed.
For more information or video footage please contact:
Daintree Discovery Centre
Mob: 0499 989 171
It was a busy morning at the Daintree Discovery Centre yesterday with several wild Cassowaries making themselves known to excited visitors and staff.
The individual male Cassowaries were seen cruising throughout the Centre, drinking and bathing themselves in Maclean’s creek.
Cassowary sightings have been on the increase at the Centre and it is not uncommon for Cassowaries and their chicks to begin to roam into new territory, as the chicks develop and are able to travel further distances.
Daintree Discovery Centre Guide Chris Bennett, attributes the increase in sightings of the individual male Cassowaries to a decrease in the Cassowary’s natural food sources.
“The excessive rain attributed to the extended wet season this year, has interfered with the fruiting cycles of many species.” explains Chris, “The rain has damaged the flower structure of many important plants and this has led to minimal fruiting. As a result, the cassowaries have had to extend their daily foraging for fruit over a larger area. It is not uncommon for them to cover up to 30 or 40 km in day.”
Though its not all bad news for the Cassowary, explains Professor Peter Pavlov, “The Cassowary’s favourite fruit, the aptly named Cassowary Plum, is ripening into season now. Over the coming months, the Cassowary Plum will once again become their staple food source. We are delighted to have abundant naturally occurring sources of Cassowary Plums at the Daintree Discovery Centre, which will most certainly contribute to sustaining the increased number of sightings during that period.”
It caps off a six week stint of increased sightings at the Centre, much to the delight of excited tourists, who have been able to marvel at theses majestic animals, in and around the centre.
“This is the best thing ever!” said one American tourist, thoroughly enjoying the sightings, along with the rest of her bus group.
Professor Peter Pavlov, has dedicated his career to rainforest research and education.
“Although the regular sightings are always welcomed, this does not indicate that that there are higher numbers of Cassowaries in the region.” says Professor Pavlov, “The adult Cassowaries that live in the Daintree are using all of the remaining available rainforest for their food source and this is why it is so important to increase the rainforest area, by replanting degraded land to increase the cassowary numbers. We are proud to conduct a Daintree Rainforest revegetation program that sees the Daintree Discovery Centre plant over 2500 rainforest trees each year.”
Professor Pavlov says we can all do our part to protect and increase the Cassowary Population.
“They are still listed as an endangered species and like any wild animal should not be approached. Humans and Dogs are the biggest threat to the decline in Cassowary numbers. We can all help the Cassowary by being cautious drivers in cassowary populated areas and making sure dogs and other animals are well secured.”
The Discovery Centre allows visitors the unique experience of viewing the wild animals from the elevated aerial walkways and boardwalks, allowing the majestic creatures to go about their business undisturbed.
At the recent United Nations World Environment Day Awards 2014, local business the Daintree Discovery Centre took out the category for Sustainability Leadership.
Winners of these prestigious awards were announced on Friday 13th of June, at a gala presentation at Luna Park in Sydney.
Owners of the Daintree Discovery Centre, Pam and Ron Birkett, attended the event and were delighted to put the spotlight on the Daintree once again, by taking out another national award for sustainable ecotourism.
In accepting the United Nations trophy, Ron paid tribute to the magnificent work being done at the Discovery Centre in Rainforest Conservation and their ongoing partnership with James Cook University in Carbon Offset and Biosequestration.
For more information: http://www.daintree-rec.com.au/eco-tourism/
The Daintree Discovery Centre is located 10km north of the Daintree River. The centre is an award-winning, world-class facility that allows visitors easy access to one of Far North Queensland’s few remaining unspoiled pockets of lowland rainforest.
Offering a 23 metre high canopy tower, 10 metre high aerial walkway, a large indoor display centre and climate change displays, the Daintree Discovery Centre offers an informative insight into the Daintree Rainforest and this fascinating ancient environment.
For more information, visit the official awards site here: http://www.unaavictoria.org.au/awards- programs/world-environment-day-awards/winners-finalists/
For photo opportunities and interviews please contact:
Adam Smith – Marketing Manager
Daintree Discovery Centre
Mob: 0499 989 171
Attached images: The Honorable. Rob Stokes MP, Minister for the Environment, Minister for Heritage, Minister for the Central Coast, Assistant Minister for Planning presenting the award to Pam and Ron Birkett.
In a move never before seen by a local tourism operator, the Daintree Discovery Centre is offering a full refund on the cost of the Daintree River Ferry for the month of February.
Daintree Discovery Centre director Ron Birkett said there had never been a better time to discover the oldest rainforest on the planet with the one-time offer open to all visitors who crossed the ferry and visited the Centre.
“While some conditions do apply this isn’t an offer exclusive for locals, it is available to absolutely everyone. A full refund of your ferry receipt, when purchasing an entry ticket to the Discovery Centre – it is that simple.
“We want people to discover just how incredible the Daintree is and there is nowhere better to experience this than at the Discovery Centre.”
Mr Birkett said the promotion coincided nicely with the influx of visitor numbers for Chinese New Year, however he said the idea behind it was to help boost visitor numbers north of the Daintree River.
“We are heading into what is traditionally our quietest period, so if we can make it even more attractive for people to visit us, then that is our aim.”
It is estimated around 400,000 people visit the Daintree Rainforest each year, with the majority of these travelling in their own vehicle.
To reach the Daintree Rainforest, travellers must cross the Daintree River, which Ron believed was an attraction in its own right.
“We are hoping we see a real difference in the number of people travelling north of the river and if we do, this will only have a positive affect on all businesses here from restaurants to accommodation and other visitor attractions.”
Mr Birkett said there was a range of things to see and do north of the river and the tourism operators who provided these services set the bench mark when it came to best practice and environmentally sustainable management.
“The Daintree Discovery Centre capped off an incredible year last year, receiving a total of five awards including the coveted Steve Irwin Ecotourism Award at the Queensland Tourism Awards but there were a number of other operators who were also award recipients.
“We are incredibly proud of our achievements and want to share what makes the Discovery Centre so special and unique.”
For more information contact Ron Birkett on 4057 8499 / 0417 668 418
Issued by Tanya Snelling :: Strategic PR :: 0417 202 663
Great footage of a young cassowary cooling down in McLean’s Creek in July 2012. The team at the Daintree Rainforest Discovery Centre managed to film this from the Aerial Walkway. The young cassowary came back the next day for another dip.
See footage on our Birds page.