Gascoyne Minister Jon Ford has welcomed the start of construction on the new $7.5million Shark Bay World Heritage Interpretive Centre.
Building work started today at the large waterfront site in the main commercial thoroughfare of Denham.
Construction is estimated to be completed by late August and will be followed by the exhibition fit-out.
The Interpretive Centre is expected to be open to the public by December 2005.
"Once completed this unique facility will include static and interactive displays which recreate and explain key features of the World Heritage Area,” Mr Ford said.
"The centre will help boost tourism, improve understanding of this magnificent region and provide new employment opportunities."
Shark Bay was given World Heritage status in 1991 in recognition of the extremely significant scientific and cultural values represented in the area.
It has achieved international renown for the famous Monkey Mia dolphins and also lays claim to the earliest documented landing by Europeans in Australia at nearby Dirk Hartog Island.
The State Government contributed $5million towards the interpretive centre through the $75million Regional Investment Fund.
The project was co-ordinated by the Gascoyne Development Commission in consultation with the shire, the Department of Conservation and Land Management and the Department of Fisheries.
Architects Woodhead International designed the centre and Freeman Ryan Design will co-ordinate the interpretive fit-out. The Department of Housing and Works manage the project.
Mr Ford said one of the primary concerns during the design phase of the building was Shark Bay’s notorious hypersalinity caused by a combination of high temperatures, minimal rainfall and strong onshore winds.
“The solution put forward by the architect, John Nichols, is an overtly tough building requiring minimal maintenance apart from an occasional washdown,” he said.
“Principal materials used in the building’s design include high density concrete wall panels and titanium zinc cladding.
“The air-conditioning system has also been designed to ensure low ongoing operating costs, which are a major part of the financial viability of this type of facility.”
North West Coastal MLA Fred Riebeling, who has been a strong supporter of the project, said the interpretive experience at the centre would take visitors through three distinct spaces.
“The first provides an introduction to the entire area through photography and soundscape while the second allows visitors to explore Shark Bay through an interactive map database on a journey from the 16th Century to the present,” he said.
“The third area allows visitors to investigate in detail the extraordinary beauty, biodiversity and history of Shark Bay through photography, artifacts, film, interviews and sound.”
Minister's office: 9425 4200