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Have your say on Yalingbila Bibula Design Concepts

The Story

The sighting of yalingbila (whales) from the Mooloomba (Point Lookout) headland on their migration to and from Antarctic waters from June to November is one of the main tourist attractions for Minjerribah (North Stradbroke Island) and one of the great joys of local residents. Humpback whales pass closer to the coast at Mooloomba, than to any other easily accessible point in Australia. On a good day, lucky whale watchers can see 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 Yalingbila (welcome the whales). 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 Mooloomba. Elders took the rare arrival of the sacred yalingbila as a positive omen for the Quandamooka People’s future. In 2019, as storytellers for the yalingbila, the Quandamooka People will launch the island’s first whale watching tours, and will play an active role in the conservation, education and research of these majestic creatures, revealing their importance to Quandamooka culture and history.

Mooloomba 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 Mooloomba coastline. The migration of these whales has been recorded by island residents and the University of Queensland since the 1980s. The structured surveys played a key role in ending international whaling in the Antarctic by proving whale populations could be accurately monitored without the need for culling. Ongoing whale research from Mooloomba will provide vital clues about the impacts of climate change, as well as mapping fluctuations in Eastern Humpback populations.

Yalingbila Bibula (whale on the hill) will display the 15-metre skeleton of the yalingbila that washed ashore at Mooloomba in 2011 – one of the few complete whale skeletons on display in Australia. The skeleton is currently under the temporary guardianship of Queensland Museum, who along with the University of Queensland (UQ) will partner with the Quandamooka People to realise their vision of Quandamooka Country becoming a global whale conservation hub.

Responding to community feedback, the landmark shelter will be built into the restored 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.

Yalingbila Bibula Design Concept May 2019
Yalingbila Bibula Design Concept

To read more information on the design click on the link

Yalingbila Bibula Design Concept May 2019

Read Q&As for more information and have your say on the design concepts via the online survey. Closes 31 May 2019

Questions & Answers

Q.  What is Yalingbila Bibula?

A. Yalingbila Bibula is a shelter housing the 15-metre skeleton of the yalingbila (whale) that washed ashore at Mooloomba (Point Lookout) in 2011. The shelter will also include information on Eastern Australian Humpback whales, share the traditional stories and connection of the Quandamooka People to humpback whales, reveal the key role Mooloomba has played in international whale research and whaling politics, as well as detail Mooloomba’s ongoing contributions to whale research, particularly around monitoring the impacts of climate change. Linked to the shelter will be a research pod, dance area and yarning circle.

Q. Why do we need it?

A. Mooloomba 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 Mooloomba 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 Mooloomba 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 Mooloomba’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.

Viewing a rare 15-metre long skeleton of an adult Eastern Australian Humpback whale will also provide an amazing additional interactive experience for visitors.

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 shelter 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 shelter is about 295m², around half that of a standard tennis court at 593m².

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

Q. What will the shelter look like? 

A. 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, and
• will not affect the walk or obstruct the panoramic view out to the whales.

Further comment can be made on these initial designs via the ONLINE SURVEY, open until 31 May 2019. 

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 ridge line 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 shelter for picnicking and whale watching, as well as ensuring the spot remains a popular feeding place for the local wallaby 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 utilised by the defence force during World War II. It has also been used for camping and other recreational purposes, most recently housing the old tennis court and clubhouse. Wild horses have also impacted the site.  

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

A. There are no plans for any further development on the headland. QYAC only holds the title for the site of the old tennis court and clubhouse. We will only build the whale shelter 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 0738298999 or on email at rcc@redland.qld.gov.au 

Q. Will there be a cost to access the Gorge Walk or the whale shelter? 

A. No

Q. Are the whale bones properly conserved and protected by these designs?

A. There are number of external displays of whale bones across the world. QYAC has taken advice from one of the world’s leading agencies in whale bone conservation and articulation, and the bones are presented and protected in these designs based on their advice. With the correct care and management, undertaken by QYAC’s Land and Sea Rangers, the bones have an expected conservation period of more than 100 years in this display. The suspension, location and mesh all protect the bones from any opportunities for vandalism.

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

A. The whale shelter is a free experience designed to enrich people’s experience of Mooloomba 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 shelter as a key feature in their tour operations.

Q Has there been public consultation?

A. Yes. Plans for a whale watching platform at Mooloomba 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 shelter. 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.

Further consultation on the initial designs is now open and will close on 31 May 2019. 

Q. What is the timeline for the development?

A. Initial plans for the shelter are open for public feedback via the ONLINE SURVEY until 31 May 2019.

The final plans will be released mid-year with construction planned to begin later in 2019. It is anticipated that the construction period will be seven months. 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 Mooloomba area. However, tourism growth will be gradual as Minjerribah grows in profile and capacity. The yalingbila season is during the low tourism period, therefore there is increased capacity for 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, in addition to a Cultural Heritage Management Plan for Mooloomba in 2008 and the recommendation in the Redland City Council’s Conservation Management Plan for 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 Mooloomba headlands area as a place of high cultural significance. In response 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 also highlighted not only archaeology but also culturally significant stories for the whole Mooloomba 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 and Redland City Council. 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 Managers of the Naree Budjong Djara National Park.

The shelter 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. View the strategy HERE

Q. What is the North Stradbroke Island Economic Transition Strategy?

A. Sand mining will cease on Minjerribah at the end of 2019. The North Stradbroke Island Economic Transition Strategy was developed by the Queensland Government after extensive consultation with the island community. It consists of 23 projects that aim to:
. diversify and expand the current tourism industry
. expand education and training opportunities
. stimulate local business development and growth.

For more information, view the Strategy HERE, visit the office at 2/9 Ballow Road, Dunwich, email NSIETS@ditid.qld.gov.au, follow the Facebook page HERE, or ring 0734152349

Have your say on the design via the online survey now, closing 31 May 2019