Home sweet home, just as rainy as I remember
Last week I got the opportunity to head back to Mamu Country, my roots, my home – you may know it as Innisfail. I took great pleasure in showing off what we call God’s Country to my City cousins. The adventure started with a heated debate around where Gods Country really is, Quandamooka or Mamu, stay tuned to find out the answer.
As we drove through the mountains, all the creeks were filled with water and running a rage. Every time I drive back to this place, I remember the Sundays swimming in the icy cold creeks. Time spent with family and friends that was filled with love and laughter, watching out for the crocks as they bask in the sunlight. The hills were flowing with waterfalls. The recent weather means that the scenery is at its finest, it was really turning it on for us with the luscious foliage and a colour green that us city folk haven’t seen in a long time. There’s a local saying, “if you can see Mt Bartle Frere then it will rain, if you can’t see it, it already is”. (Un)fortunately for us, it was raining. But that didn’t stop the beauty of the region shining through. The kangaroos were out to say good morning bounding around the front lawns of the local residents, it was certainly a warm welcome from all and an incredible way to return to a place that holds a massive part of my heart.
The purpose of our visit was to consult with the local tourism operators to develop an understanding of what their needs and wants are for the First Nations Tourism Plan. Innisfail is a destination where culture is an important part of the community. There are a number of immigrants alongside Indigenous people, it is a melting pot of culture and heritage. It is a community where all cultures are celebrated – it’s an all encompassing community, a supportive community and one that champions the strengths of the diversity of backgrounds and history. The community spoke of the want for a Cultural Centre that showcases all the cultures that reside in this beautiful region, from the cane cutters and the gold miners to the Yugoslavian, Greek, Spanish and Italian immigrants and all that’s in between.
We were also joined by Mark and Judy from Paronella Park, industry legends who have been at the forefront of experience development for as long as I can remember (and I got married there). Their next focus is on integrating Indigenous experiences into the charms of Paronella Park in whatever for works with the local community – from basket weaving to storytelling, they are exploring ways to integrate the rich history of the region into the experience to educate tourists.
After the consultation we headed to Flying Fish Point and Ella Bay. A quintessentially Queensland small town that remains relatively untouched. Shhhh don’t tell anyone about this one – the pristine beaches and untouched natural beauty of the -place shine through even the greyest sky – it’s a local hidden gem.
Going back always has this “I remember when” moment. It was wonderful to have the chance to share the beautify with colleagues I respect. Whilst these places hold so much value for me, I have to sit back and reflect, would this place hold the same value for visitors? Is there enough about this place to make it attractive to people who don’t have my history? Or will it forever remain a locals paradise? With enthusiasm from local residents, council and tourism operators, I have no doubt that a happy medium will be found – a balance in sharing what we hold dear and not commodifying the destination that we call home.
P.S. It turns out that God’s Country is a tie, both Mamu and Quandamooka are worthy of the title…….but you won’t see grass as green in Quandamooka – just saying…..