Tjapukai aboriginal cultural park will reopen with new owners as the Djabugay Aboriginal Corporation purchased the attraction following prolonged financial problems, which were made worst by covid.
The new owners will look to lock in investors and secure state government funding to continue to build on the “Djabugay Now” ethos.
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From the cairns post 28.09.21
THE new owners of Tjapukai Aboriginal Cultural Park have unveiled the culturally driven changes that will shape the new-look attraction as it reopens.
The Djabugay Aboriginal Corporation has purchased the Smithfield tourist attraction after it permanently closed in January following a history of serious financial problems with Covid-19 putting the nail in the coffin.
Djabugay Aboriginal Corporation chairman William Biri Duffin said he was hoping to reopen in it within “six to 12 months” after recently settling on the attraction.
Mr Duffin said before reopening the park he was looking to lock in investors and government funding to expand the centre and build on the “Djabugay Now” ethos.
“Before it was more for show, it was designed for international tourists,” Mr Duffin said.
“We felt like the culture was really in the background to the main building and its design.
“(The park) is based on Djabugay culture, but before we had no control at all, no corporate direction, no financial direction. Just a cultural co-ordination agreement with IBA (Indigenous Business Australia).”
Mr Duffin, who worked at the park before it shut down, said an earlier redevelopment of the building was “not fit for purpose” and “didn’t work with the presentation of the culture”, but said that would change.
Djabugay Aboriginal Corporation chairman William Duffin said the redevelopment of Tjapukai was not fit for the purpose of presenting culture. Picture: Marc McCormack
“We want to allow people to take their time and walk away with some knowledge.
“We want to build a knowledge centre – it will have more information on our culture.
“With that there will be self-guided tours, personal tours and multi-day tours with our rangers to learn off the land and maybe even camps.
“A new playground so locals can come and enjoy a coffee and watch the kids.”
Mr Duffin said employment would be open to both Djabugay and non-Djabugay people and he hoped employee numbers could return to a pre-Covid level within three years.
Barron River MP Craig Crawford on Monday inspected the work the Djabugay people had done at the park as said “just add tourists and it’s good to go”.
“Tourism has been down as we know but this is a great example of a business in this industry emerging from the ashes,” Mr Crawford said.
“The new concept will work good for tourists because we know they want to have more interactive experiences with Indigenous tourism.”
Before its closure, Tjapukai Aboriginal Cultural Park had operated for 33 years, firstly at Kuranda before moving to Smithfield in 1996.