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.