A world class visitor centre has been built at one of Western Australia’s greatest conservation sites - Two Peoples Bay Nature Reserve near Albany.
Opening the centre today, Environment Minister Cheryl Edwardes said the Department of Conservation and Land Management (CALM) facility would provide a focal point for visitors providing them with information on the area’s heritage, conservation and cultural values.
“Two Peoples Bay is one of WA’s greatest conservation treasures and one of our most popular natural attractions,” the Minister said.
“Two Peoples Bay receives around 40,000 visitors each year, many of whom picnic, fish and enjoy the coastal scenery without realising they are in one of the most important conservation reserves in Australia.
“This innovative visitor centre will ensure that people have every access to information about the values of this conservation reserve.”
Mrs Edwardes said CALM had established the centre with support from a Commonwealth Tourism Grant under the National Tourism program.
The main objectives of the centre were to provide visitors with information on the threatened species that exist in the area and the successful management being undertaken to ensure their long-term survival.
“It has also been designed to fit in harmoniously with its natural surroundings and caters for all people with disabled access, easy-to-use paths and easy-to-read signs.
“The new centre has something for everyone and I am sure it will be popular with tour companies, school groups and visitors looking for a very special eco-tourism experience.”
Mrs Edwardes said European history traced back to 1803 when a French vessel met up with an American Brig anchored in the bay, which led to its name. Its rich Aboriginal history extended even further and the Aboriginal people of the South-West called it Yilbering.
After European settlement, the bay first became a popular camping and recreational area in the 1930s when many squatter shacks could be found hidden among the bushland.
However, the area is most famous for its wildlife, with the rediscovery of the Noisy Scrub Bird in 1962 by Albany school teacher Harley Webster. This small bird with a loud, harmonious voice had not been recorded for 72 years and was thought to be extinct.
This rediscovery sparked a process that led to the establishment of Two Peoples Bay Nature Reserve and a research and management program which resulted in a current estimated 1,500 Noisy Scrub Birds.
This conservation success story was only the beginning, as in 1994 Elizabeth Sinclair - a post-graduate student at the University of Western Australia - caught an unusual mammal while attempting to trap quokkas near Mt Gardner.
The animal turned out to be a Gilberts Potoroo, which had not been seen for 120 years and was naturally thought to be extinct.
Two Peoples Bay’s rich wildlife extends further - it is home to numerous native animals, many of which have thrived as a result of fox control in the area under the wildlife recovery program Western Shield.
Through fox-baiting, CALM has been able to control the threat of these introduced predators and bring native animals back from the brink of extinction.
Since the project began in 1996, massive gains have been made in restoring native wildlife to their original home ranges and population.
Two Peoples Bay Nature Reserve is an important part of the Western Shield program, particularly for WA's south-coast region.
Media contact: Ministerial - Nicole Trigwell on 9421 7777
CALM - Alan Danks on 9842 4500