MS TIERNEY (Western Victoria—Minister for Training and Skills, Minister for Higher Education, Minister for Agriculture)
Incorporated pursuant to order of Council of 7 September 2021:
I rise today to share a wonderful success story emerging at Budj Bim in Western Victoria.
There has been a long-held dream for the Budj Bim World Heritage Landscape—a UNESCO World Heritage site—to become a significant tourism destination.
Now the dream is being realised.
This is a fantastic opportunity to see how the Gunditjmara-developed aquaculture engineering systems to harvest kooyang, or short-finned eel, and the hollowed trees used to smoke and preserve the nutritious eel for trade, all thousands of years before Victoria’s colonial history.
The Andrews Labor government has strongly supported Budj Bim, resulting in high-class tourism infrastructure at the Tyrendarra Indigenous Protected Area and the central Kurtonitj IPA, and now the first-class and highly acclaimed cafe and eel centre overlooking the shore of Tae Rak, Lake Condah.
Twenty-one locals have ongoing employment in tourism and hospitality at Budj Bim, including nine Gunditj Mirring. The Tae Rak cafe is serving an average of 65 meals of fine food per day.
Tourists are coming in growing numbers to see and experience the uniqueness of Budj Bim for themselves.
Since the start of July alone, more than 1400 visitors have toured the site, and school visits of 120 students at a time are commonplace.
Tae Rak cafe’s Gunditjmara chef is Ricky North, who has developed a great menu showcasing local indigenous foods and featuring the very tasty and nutritious kooyang.
The community response has been beyond expectations and augers well for the future as the Gunditjmara corporation continue to develop partnerships with tourism industry providers and to establish and strengthen their own tourism capability and enterprise.
It is great to see this long-awaited project come to fruition.