A 6HA property at the southern end of the new masterplanned South Beach development at Elliot Heads is earmarked to be the site of a regional ecosystem research centre, owned by Burnett Mary Regional Group, partnering with Central Queensland University and Gidarjil Development Corporation. The land has been gifted by South Beach to BMRG for a minimal amount, with funding support from Evolution Mining, Mt Rawdon Gold Mine

Commencing in 2021, South Beach Development Director Helen Blackburn and CEO of BMRG Sheila Charlesworth worked together to find a way for the land to be used for the betterment of the environment and community.

Future funding will be sought to establish an ecosystems research centre, seagrass nursery and wetlands trail. It will also form part of a broader eco-trail planned across the region. Situated on the coastline at the mouth of the Elliott River, the site contains wetlands, making it an ideal location for research and development. It also has cultural significance with a number of Aboriginal midden sites.

Plans for the permanent research facility will include an interpretive educational centre open to the public and school students to learn about the crucial role of seagrasses and mangroves in marine environments.

“South Beach’s masterplan, over 10 years in the planning, has always been focused on giving back to both the people and environment, with a plan that integrates with the existing ecosystems and restores old farmland back into natural habitat” explained Mrs Blackburn.

“The decision to locate a globally significant research hub in Elliott Heads underpins the unique and important local environment, and will have far reaching benefits for the greater community and create additional employment within the region.”

Sheila Charlesworth, CEO of BMRG, said that the centre will bring together important contributing parts of the Burnett Mary region ecosystem protection – working together to make a real difference.

“It will be open to the community and connected to the environmental and cultural heritage of the region, highlighting land and sea practices of the traditional owners” Ms Charlesworth said.

The research centre is also partnered by Gidarjil Development Corporation for ongoing management and conservation of their traditional lands. Dr Kerry Blackman, CEO of Gidarjil Development Corporation said, “Gidarjil is proud to be associated with research and development opportunities that showcase Indigenous culture and look forward to sharing our culture with the wider community “

A ceremonial signing of the partnership between all parties will occur later this month, initiating the planning stage of the centre, which is expected to take 12 months. It will be a big month for South Beach, with an historic groundbreaking event to also be attended by federal, state and local politicians as construction finally begins on the masterplanned community.

Paul Wright, Evolution Mining – Mt Rawdon Operations Sustainability Manager said they are proud to support the property purchase.

“This is another example of Evolution Mining’s commitment to invest in the region’s environmental and community initiatives leaving a lasting legacy for generations to come” Mr Wright said.

“CQUniversity is recognised globally as a leader in marine research, with the university ranked 9th in the world by QS for our approach to sustaining life below water. Having access to this facility at South Beach will only strengthen our ability to find evidence-based solutions to any challenges facing our marine ecosystem in this beautiful part of Queensland. I look forward to working with BMRG, Gidarjil and other stakeholders as the new research facility takes shape.” Professor Nick Klomp – Vice Chancellor and President CQUniversity.