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The Story

YALINGBILA BIBULA (WHALE ON THE HILL)

Yalingbila Bibula will be a landmark tourism attraction for Minjerribah (North Stradbroke Island), telling the story of the Island’s Traditional Custodians and their continuous and ongoing connection to the majestic Eastern Humpback whales.

The interpretive facility, Yalingbila Bibula (Whale on the Hill) will house the 15-metre skeleton of the Yalingbila (whale) that washed ashore at Mulumba (Point Lookout) in 2011 – one of the few complete humpback whale skeletons on public display in the world.

The facility will feature a hydrophone – an underwater microphone system – that will allow visitors to listen to the whales’ song as they pass by.

It will be a place for ongoing research in partnership with the University of Queensland. As part of this arrangement, visitors will be able talk with researchers and learn more about the whales and their migration.

ADDING TO THE WHALE WATCHING EXPERIENCE

The sighting of Yalingbila from the Mulumba headland on their migration to and from Antarctic waters from June to November, is one of the main tourist attractions for Minjerribah and one of the great joys of local residents.

Humpback whales pass closer to the coast at Mulumba, than to any other easily accessible point in Australia. On a good day, lucky whale watchers can see up to 200 whales pass the headland between dawn and dusk.

Minjerribah’s Traditional Owners, the Quandamooka People, have been watching the annual whale migration for more than 20,000 years. Yalingbila are sacred to Quandamooka People as they represent one of the Quandamooka’s two Moieties (kinship groups).

As part of the Quandamooka Festival, Traditional Owners invite visitors from across Australia and the world to take part in the traditional, ceremonial blessing and Yura Yalingbila (welcome the whales).

THE WHALE SKELETON

In 2011, as the Quandamooka People were in negotiations with the government about formal recognition of their native title rights to land and sea, an adult male Eastern Humpback whale washed ashore at Mulumba. Elders took the rare arrival of the sacred Yalingbila as a positive omen for the Quandamooka People’s future. Since then, the skeleton was carefully stored by the Queensland Museum before recently being shipped to Canada where experts will prepare the bones for public display.

PLACE FOR RESEARCH

Mulumba is one of the world’s most important sites for international whale research. Each year more than 28,000 migrating humpback whales pass within 10 kilometres of the Mulumba coastline. The migration of these whales has been recorded by island residents and the University of Queensland since the 1980s.

The structured surveys play a key role in ending international whaling in the Antarctic by proving whale populations can be accurately monitored without the need for culling, as previously asserted by Japan. Ongoing whale research from Mulumba will provide vital clues about the impacts of climate change, as well as mapping fluctuations in Eastern Humpback populations.

THE LOCATION

Recognising the importance of whales to the identity, lifestyle, economy and culture of Mulumba, a whale interpretive facility will be built on a previously developed parcel of land on the headland.

In response to community feedback, the landmark facility will be built into the landscape from complementary materials and will only come into view as walkers round the corner of the North Gorge Walk. Its highest point will sit below the existing tree line and sections of the environment around the building will be restored to the natural topography and vegetation. Initial designs for the facility were released for community feedback in May 2019. Response to the designs was overwhelmingly positive.

The facility will in no way impact on the Gorge Walk once completed, but will instead enhance the visitor experience, provide learning opportunities and a shaded place to sit, enjoy the view and immerse yourself in Quandamooka culture.

Yalingbila Bibula Design Concept May 2019
DEVELOPMENT APPROVAL

World-class Brisbane based architects, Cox, have finalised the detailed design and layout for Yalingbila Bibula (Whale on the Hill) and submissions are now being sought on the proposed infrastructure designation.

You can view and download the Environmental Assessment Report for the Yalingbila Bibula proposal on the Department of State Development, Manufacturing, Infrastructure and Planning (DSDMIP) website: https://planning.dsdmip.qld.gov.au/id-consultations

Written submissions to the DSDMIP will be accepted up until, and including, Tuesday 18 February 2020.

Designation reference: 1219-0396
Website:
https://planning.dsdmip.qld.gov.au/id-consultations
Email: infrastructuredesignation@dsdmip.qld.gov.au
Mail: PO Box 15009, City East, QLD, 4002
Queries: T 1300 967 433 (discussions will not be considered a submission)

CONSTRUCTION OPPORTUNITIES

Expressions of interest (EOIs) for indicative works packages are open for Yalingbila Bibula.

EOIs close 31 January 2020.

Yalingbila Bibula Design Concept
Yalingbila Bibula Design Concept May 2019

Questions & Answers

Q. What will be the experience for visitors to Yalingbila Bibula?

A. Yalingbila Bibula is an interpretive facility that will facility house the 15-metre skeleton of the Yalingbila (whale) that washed ashore at Mulumba (Point Lookout) in 2011. The facility will also include information on Eastern Australian Humpback whales, share the traditional stories and connection of the Quandamooka People to whales and reveal the key role Mulumba has played in international whale research and whaling politics. The facility will also contain a hydrophone (an underwater microphone system) and University of Queensland research pod, so visitors can enjoy the unique experience of watching a whale pass and hear its song, look at its skeleton and talk to a researcher simultaneously.

Linked to the facility will be an outdoor dance area and yarning circle and enhanced green spaces to view the whale migration.

Viewing a rare 15-metre long skeleton of an adult Eastern Australian Humpback whale, while listening to songs of the passing whales, will be a unique and spine-tingling experience for locals and visitors.

Q. Why do we need it?

A. Mulumba is the best place to watch the annual whale migration in Australia. Some argue it is the best whale vantage point in the world, with 80% of the passing pods coming within just 5km of the shore. Thousands of people visit the island each year to watch the whales off the Mulumba headland.

There is currently minimal information on the headland about; the whales; their migration; the special connection between Traditional Owners, the Quandamooka People, and the whales; the history of whaling in Moreton Bay; or the internationally significant role played by Mulumba in whale research.

Yalingbila Bibula will provide this information to enhance the visitor’s understanding and appreciation for Eastern Australian Humpback whales, Quandamooka culture and the role of Mulumba’s structured surveys in the history of international whaling. It will greatly enrich the visitor experience during the migration season, as well as provide an incentive to return for visitors who come out of season.

The project will focus on the cultural and scientific aspects of the Yalingbila and is being developed in partnership with the University of Queensland.

Q. Why is the shelter on the headland?

A. To genuinely enhance the visitor experience, the facility needs to be positioned where visitors can experience the whale migration and view the skeleton and supporting information.

The headland site was one of four sites identified in a 2008 Conservation Management Plan, commissioned by Redland City Council, as suitable for development of heritage infrastructure.

The selected lot was previously the site of a tennis court and clubhouse and there are still remnants of a concrete slab from that time on the site. The footprint of the facility is about 295m², around half that of a standard tennis court at 593m².

Finally, studies of the old tennis court site show that cultural heritage will not be impacted.

Q. What will the shelter look like? 

A. The final plans for Yalingbila Bibula have now been released. See images in this document or online at http://qyac.net.au/YalingbilaBibula.html

The design clearly responds to community feedback and:

  • has a minimal footprint of about 295m² - half the size of the tennis court previously located on the site
  • is embedded into the landscape to make sure it sits below the tree line
  • is made of materials that complement the landscape, locally sourced where possible
  • will restore sections of the natural topography of the site and the native vegetation as part of the development
  • will not affect the walk or obstruct the panoramic view out to the whales.

Q. How will it impact the landscape?

A. The Yalingbila Bibula project will involve the partial restoration of the original topography and vegetation.

Yalingbila Bibula will restore gentle slopes akin to the original ridgeline on the site and replant native vegetation to encourage wildlife and restore sections of the area to a more natural state. It will in no way impact the iconic North Gorge Walk or panoramic view of the Pacific Ocean.

The design retains an open green space around the facility for picnicking and whale watching, as well as ensuring the spot remains a popular feeding place for the local kangaroo population.

The site where Yalingbila Bibula will be built, has been significantly disturbed and altered over the past 100 years. The headland was first cleared for cattle grazing, then used by the defence force during World War II. It was also used for camping and other recreational purposes, most recently housing the old tennis court and club house. Wild horses have also impacted the site.

Q. Will the facility close the Gorge Walk or put a fee on the walk?

A. No, the Gorge Walk will remain free and unhindered by Yalingbila Bibula. The facility will only enhance the walk experience. It will not obstruct any views from the Gorge walking track.

Q. Will there be any future development on the headland?

A. QYAC only holds the title for the site of the old tennis court and clubhouse. We will only build the whale facility on this site.

Redlands City Council is responsible for the remainder of the headland and development enquiries should be addressed to council at Redland City Council,
PO Box 21, Cleveland QLD 4163 ,
by telephone at 07 3829 8999
or on email at rcc@redland.qld.gov.au

Q. What is the role of The University of Queensland research pod?

A. The research pod in Yalingbila Bibula will support the ongoing whale survey and activities of the University of Queensland’s team from the Moreton Bay Research Station.

However, the addition of the hydrophone will allow researchers to further their investigations into the mystery of whale song. Humpback whale songs have more complex musical patterns than those of other whales. The University of Queensland’s Cetacean Ecology and Acoustics Laboratory is leading studies into this complexity, the evolution and purpose of humpback whale song.

Q. Will there be any commercial businesses integrated into the whale shelter and surrounding precinct?

A. The whale facility is a free experience designed to enrich people’s experience of Mulumba and the Gorge Walk. When Redland City Council were trustees, the site was used for events and activities, this will continue and there may be opportunities for boutique special events and activities to take place around the site. Commercial tour operators on the island will be able to freely include the facility as a key feature in their tour operations.

Q. Why hasn’t there been more public consultation?

A. Plans for a whale watching platform at Mulumba were first flagged in the draft 2011 North Stradbroke Island Economic Transition Strategy. Extensive consultation was conducted on draft strategies with more than 2,400 submissions received. In 2015, a revised draft strategy was available for public consultation which still noted a whale watching platform. Informed by this broad community input, the final North Stradbroke Island Economic Transition Strategy, released in 2016, included plans for a whale interpretive facility.

Importantly, Traditional Owners also identified a whale interpretive facility in the 2011 North Stradbroke Island Indigenous Business Development Plan.

More consultation was undertaken from December 2018 to February 2019 specifically to ensure an appropriate design for the facility. More than 350 responses were received via an online survey, various stakeholder conversations and two public forums at the site. The design team also noted views expressed at a peaceful protest picnic held at the site in January 2019. The initial designs very clearly respond to the feedback received.

The initial designs were released for public feedback in May 2019. Response to the designs was overwhelmingly positive. Public consultation on the development is now open, with submissions closing on 18 February 2020. More details on how to make a submission are below.

Q. What is the timeline for the development?

A. It is anticipated that construction will begin in mid-2020 during the island’s tourism low season. The facility should be complete by the end of 2020, with the prepared skeleton to arrive in early 2021.

Construction will not shut off the headland walk.

Q. How will the tourism numbers be managed?

A. Yalingbila Bibula has the potential to increase tourism to the Mulumba area. However, tourism growth will be gradual as Minjerribah grows in profile and capacity. The Yalingbila season is during the low tourism period, so there is capacity for more visitors during this time.

As with all other areas under the guardianship of the Quandamooka People, caring for country is a priority. QYAC will work closely with National Parks and Wildlife and Redland City Council to ensure the site is appropriately maintained and cared for. A Naree Budjong Djara National Park Management Plan is also being developed.

In conjunction with the broader Economic Transition Strategy the Queensland Government, through the Department of Transport and Main Roads has developed a public transport study into infrastructure, services and connections on the island and to the neighbouring mainland which will assist in preparing Minjerribah for a larger number of visitors by reducing the need for individual cars and parking spaces on the island.

Q. Has the cultural heritage management of the site been considered?

A. Yes. A Cultural Heritage Management Plan for Mulumba was developed in 2008 and the Redland City Council’s Conservation Management Plan recommended the site’s possible enhancement of cultural heritage values through built works. Further cultural heritage studies have been undertaken within the area and specifically on the old tennis court site. One cultural heritage study in 2015 identified the Mulumba headlands area as a place of high cultural significance. Ground penetrating radar works and a systematic sub-surface probing program were undertaken in 2018 which determined the site was suitable for building with no impact on cultural heritage.

The 2008 Heritage Plan highlighted not only archaeology but also culturally significant stories for the whole Mulumba area.

Q. Who is leading this project?

A. The Quandamooka Yoolooburrabee Aboriginal Corporation (QYAC) is leading this project with the support of the Queensland Government, The University of Queensland and Queensland Museum. QYAC is recognised by the Federal Court of Australia as the Native Title Body for Minjerribah. QYAC is the trustee for the reserve, the registered Cultural Heritage body for the Quandamooka Estate and joint managers of the Naree Budjong Djara National Park.

The facility is a key project in QYAC’s Gudjundabu Marumba Gubiyiyanya: Tourism for a Glad Tomorrow, a five-year strategy for sustainable tourism on Quandamooka Country. Find out more about the strategy at qyac.net.au

Q. What is Minjerribah Futures?

A. Minjerribah Futures extends the work of the former North Stradbroke Island Economic Transition Strategy. It is the Queensland Government’s $24.75 million investment to support the transition of beautiful Minjerribah from its past reliance on sand mining to a new future as a globally recognised destination for cultural and eco-tourism, built on a foundation of Quandamooka culture and sustainability. Minjerribah will be: environmentally pristine, with a thriving economy

Minjerribah Futures will deliver new infrastructure projects that will dramatically improve island lifestyle. There will be more aged care beds, better walking and recreational tracks, a landmark contemporary cultural facility, a redeveloped education and training centre, public art place markers in Goompi (Dunwich), Pulan (Amity Point) and Mulumba (Point Lookout), and the Goompi master plan that will provide a blueprint to improve the town’s liveability and enhance its role as the tourism gateway to all the island. All projects will be complete by 2021, marking a significant milestone in the island’s long-term transformation to a cultural and eco-tourism hub.

For more information on the Strategy

website qld.gov.au/minjerribahfutures,

office:
2/9 Ballow Road,
Dunwich,

email minjerribahfutures@ditid.qld.gov.au

follow us on Facebook at /Minjerribah or ring 07 3415 2820.

Pre design consultation closed 10 June 2019. Thank you to everyone who shared feedback.
The Yalingbila Bibula Pre Design Consultation Report is now available for viewing.