As part of his Regional Visit Program, the Governor visited Geraldton and Kalbarri in the State’s Mid West region.
Geraldton has totally changed in its spirit. It’s a city now of great confidence and of awareness of its diversity. This city has a complex economy which is always going to be a source of wealth. It has transformed from the city that I used to visit in the 80’s and 90’s. There is self-confidence here now were there used to be a bit of doubt. Now there is self-confidence again. It is a major area for growth in the years to come especially with the recent boost in domestic tourism.
It’s amazing to see the huge numbers of tourists passing through this region and we are not in school holidays. I noticed this in Kalbarri with huge numbers of people visiting the Skywalk.
Two things that were highlights, obviously one was going to the platform in the heavens just past Kalbarri, which is marvellous – it’s been done brilliantly. And it clearly is enormously appealing to tourists because they was a lot of them there. And Kalbarri itself was bursting at the seams as was the Skywalk. Then the flight out and boat trip inside the Abrolhos Islands. I know that the powers that be here are thinking through how that can be developed as a tourism sight. Actually when you look at it, it’s quite complicated to do that. It’s a wonderful area but not with much land space, so that’s going to require a fair bit of figuring out. The story there is a terrible story but a great piece of history and that will obviously be a focal point but beyond that there’s just about everything related to marine activities you could conceivably think of. So I expect that people get the formula right.
I really enjoyed being at the Batavia Coast Maritime Institute and looking at the aquaculture – unbelievable, they must be cutting edge or any of the equivalent courses around the country.
There is a lot of aquaculture being thought of in connection with the Abrolhos Islands and further around the coastline, but in Geraldton it is a world-class operation going on at the TAFE.
In defence terms, Geraldton now has one of the critical Australian bases here in the Australian Defence Satellite Communications Station.
The Honourable Kim Beazley AC, Governor of Western Australia
Day 1: Kalbarri and Geraldton, the Governor undertook the following activities:
- Wondered at the 360 degree views from the new Kalbarri Sky Walk situated within the Kalbarri National Park. The Governor was then taken on a tour of the infrastructure at the skywalk by Mr Gavin Treasure, CEO, Midwest Development Commission, Mr Nigel Sercombe, Regional Manager, Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions (DBCA), Mr Rory Chapple, Project Manager DBCA and Mr Mike Paxman, Kalbarri National Park Senior Ranger, DBCA.
- Met with the marvellous staff from Mid West Development Commission, Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development, Department of Water and Environmental Regulation and was provided with a briefing on infrastructure projects in the region such as the high speed internet project that will enable Geraldton farmers to compete on the world stage with the best technology available.
- Updated on the status of the Yamatji Indigenous Land Use Agreement by Ms Debbie Fletcher, Director State Agreements, Department of Premier and Cabinet (via Zoom).
- A civic reception at the Queens Park Theatre was hosted by the City of Greater Geraldton where the Governor delivered an address to guests and presented and received a gift from Mr Shane Van Styn, Mayor, City of Greater Geraldton
Day 2: Abrolhos Islands and Geraldton, the Governor undertook the following activities:
- Arrived at Geraldton Air Charter where Ms Wendy Mann, Managing Director and Chief Pilot accompanied by Mr Mick Kelly, A/Manager Regional Compliance – Midwest, Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development took the Governor on a fly over of the Pink Lake and Aquaculture Zone explaining the importance of these areas from both a tourism and business standpoint.
- Scenic flight over the Abrolhos Islands taking in the breathtaking sights of its natural beauty as migrating whales breach from the ocean beneath.
- Landed on Wallabi Island where the Governor boarded a Fisheries Vessel to tour the new jetty infrastructure, DBCA proposed infrastructure base and given and insight into the fisherman accommodation on Little Pigeon Island.
- Received an update on the economic importance of cray-fishing and pearl framing to the region with a demonstration of how to remove a pearl from a shell by local fisherman.
- Met with the staff at Pollinators Innovation Hub where the Governor was given a tour of the facilities, meeting the interesting people that share this workspace. This is providing local businesses with office space and facilities to get there businesses off the ground.
- Toured the Batavia Coast Maritime Institute with Juan Gutierrez, Central Regional TAFE and Ross Woodward-Williams, Aquaculture site manager, Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development. This is an award winning state of the art training, research and development facility that has positioned itself as a world class centre of excellence, specialising in the areas of aquaculture, marine and environmental science research and training.
Day 3: Geraldton, the Governor undertook the following activities:
- Met by Erica Starling, Owner and Director of Indian Ocean Fresh Australia, took the Governor on a tour of the Yellowtail Kingfish cages of the coast of Geraldton. Erica and her own family commenced on a new journey in 2008, gaining expertise in marine finfish aquaculture and are now commercially producing Yellowtail Kingfish.
- Visited the Valley View Farm and the 11th Battalion Gallipoli Trench Project. The Governor was saluted on arrival by Guard Commander Major Cox and the troops, the Governor enjoyed billy tea and scones before hardtack Private Ether and Nurse Ether show a video of trench history and battle Trooper Mcgillray escorted the Governor on a trench tour allowing an insight into what it was like in the trenches at Gallopoli. Exiting through the Reflection Room and proceeding to the ANZAC memorial where the Governor laid a wreath to remember those who have fallen.
- Lastly, the Governor attended the Australian Defence Satellite Communications Station. Mr Roland Layton, Executive Director, Officer in Charge introduced the Governor to some of the Champion Bay High School students (visiting the facility for Science week) in the installations first series of school tours. The Governor answered the student’s questions before heading for a briefing and overview of the site. He was then given a driving tour of the site including the solar installation.
‘Championing Western Australian achievements in technology and development, and the state’s capacity to contribute to international research efforts such as the Australian Defence Satellite Communications Station and emerging Defence technologies,’ is one of the Governor’s priorities.