Founding President of the Gold Coast & Hinterland Environment, Lois Levy has served on the committee for over 20 years such is her passion for spreading a message about community care for the environment.
Ahead of Gold Coast Green Weekend, we spoke with Lois about issues currently affecting our local environment and how we can help turn things around.
Tell us what Gold Coast Green Weekend is all about…
Gecko has been hosting Green Week for many years. This year we decided to condense it into a weekend of handpicked events or a ‘green weekend’. There are five events happening across the Coast from June 2nd to World Environment Day on June 5th. We have collaborated with the folks at Naturally GC for a Koala tree-planting day and with Gold Coast Catchment Association for a ‘Catchment Crawl’. We have also included our Wildlife Expo, which has proven to be a hugely popular event over the years. We have a Climate Change for Good action forum and we have an incredible banquet planned to celebrate World Environment Day. The aim of the weekend is to get people connecting with nature – the theme of World Environment Day 2017. However it’s also to get people thinking about environmental issues and how they can take action. The weekend concludes with our banquet, which is a chance for people to celebrate World Environment Day. The dinner has an environmental focus with an all vegan menu and entertainment by local musician Kate Leopold, who is also an environmental activist.
How can locals get involved?
There are multiple ways for locals to get involved in green weekend. The Climate Change for Good Actioneer Forum will be an excellent start to the weekend and a chance to learn how to take action on climate change at a personal and community level by engaging with the small project leaders. On Saturday you can get out and plant a tree at the koala tree planting day or book a seat on the bus for the catchment crawl and go along to see the amazing bush regeneration work in Austinville, On Sunday you can bring the whole family along to the Wildlife Expo and on Monday evening come and enjoy a vegan feast at our banquet on World Environment Day.
What are some of the major challenges facing the Gold Coast’s naturalenvironment in 2017?
The Gold Coast, like all of Queensland, faces challenges in coping with population growth and in particular the land clearing required to accommodate this growth, as well as the continued economic growth, which is often not sustainable. Our koala is under severe threat from land clearing and though the koala is the icon for our Commonwealth Games we have a huge challenge in trying to protect this unique native animal. There are also challenges in balancing the need to connect people with nature while protecting it from degradation. Protected natural areas are foremost for protection of flora and fauna and secondarily for human enjoyment and recreation.
What’s so unique about our environment here?
Many people don’t realise the Gold Coast is one of the most naturally biodiverse cities in Australia, known as a biodiversity hotspot. We have a huge variety of native flora and fauna including world heritage listed rainforests and multiple endangered species. On the Gold Coast we have world-class beaches, mountains and rainforests, all on our doorstep. There are few places in the world with the natural beauty of the Gold Coast and we must all strive to protect it.
What changes can we as individuals make to assist the environment?
Individual actions such as recycling and waste reduction as well as reducing consumption are certainly important. However, community action is essential in fighting for effective action climate change at both a government and community level as well as protecting our environment. Individuals can get involved with their local environmental organisations, bushcare groups and wildlife conservation groups. Others might like to make their gardens more biodiverse for the insects and local animals and reduce their greenhouse emissions within their household or workplace.
There are a huge number of groups on the Gold Coast working to protect our environment and we should not only be proud of this but also take actions ourselves. It’s also very important the community is informed on environmental issues and has a say in legislation at all levels. Groups like Gecko do a lot to help inform the community, but it is also up to the individual to stay informed.
How was Gecko formed and what do you do for the Gold Coast?
Gecko was formed in 1989 when representatives of six local conservation groups joined together. Since then Gecko has tirelessly advocated for the environment and the people who live on the Gold Coast. Gecko’s vision is “A vibrant Gold Coast community where people, animals, plants, water, air and earth all form a healthy, harmonious system”. Gecko’s activities include education, events, campaigns and even bush care. Gecko also provides community services such as training for jobseekers through our collaboration with Volunteering Gold Coast.
If Gold Coasters wanted to join or help out, what could they do?
Gecko is run entirely by dedicated volunteers. We are always looking for individuals with special skills and talents but most importantly people who have a passion for the environment and its protection.
What do you think is the future of our city’s environment?
As previously mentioned, the Gold Coast faces challenges due to climate change and population growth. The Gold Coast is perhaps more vulnerable than other cities due to very rapid population growth and our position as a coastal city in relation to sea level rise. We need a government that has vision when it comes to planning for the future and we need to take more action on climate change now. We also need to protect our unique flora and fauna. With some forward thinking and planning, this special place we call home can remain a beautiful place for future generations to thrive in. There are so many positive actions residents of the Gold Coast can take to protect the very aspects of this extraordinary city that brought them here in the first place. Being involved with Gecko in a small or greater way is a first step.
The Gold Coast region is rich with indigenous history, and if you’re anything like us, you want to soak up every single bit of it.
For example, did you know Aboriginal people inhabited the local region for over 23,000 years before European settlers arrived? Leaving behind numerous sacred sites just waiting to be discovered. Of course, It’s never too late in paying tribute to and educating yourself about our city’s deep-seated Indigenous culture.
Here are six places to get you off to a great start.
Jellurgal Aboriginal Cultural Centre
The Jellurgal Aboriginal Centre is located at the bottom of Burleigh’s Headland. Authentic paintings are available for sale at the Centre, and along with the paintings, you will see Aboriginal artefacts such as dilly bags, shields and other tools and instruments that were part of everyday life. Burleigh Heads National Park is a significant and sacred Indigenous place that, to this day, offers a fantastic insight into the world of the Kombumerri people, including many Dreamtime stories about how Burleigh Hill and Talle Creek came to be. Go on a guided tour to discover all that is hidden. Go to their website to find out more and book.
Where: Right next to the Tallebudgera Creek car park, Gold Coast Highway, Burleigh Heads
Bora Ring Site (Jebbribillum)
The Bora Memorial Rock can be found in the Jebbribillum Bora Park beside the Gold Coast Highway in Burleigh/Miami. Thousands of people pass it every day without realising its significance. The rock is dedicated to the Indigenous men and women of the Gold Coast region who served in Australian war conflicts from 1914 to 1991. It was once the site where young Australian Aboriginals were initiated into their tribe in special ceremonies.
Where: Corner Gold Coast Highway and Sixth Avenue, Burleigh Heads
Bond University is home to Australia’s most extensive private collection of Indigenous art on public display. Tracing the evolution of Indigenous art from the traditional Western Desert Movement to the colourful contemporary styles, the Corrigan Walk is now attracting international acclaim. The unique collection features the works of Australia’s most celebrated and admired Indigenous artists, including Clifford Possum Tjapaltjarri, Sally Gabori, Tommy Watson and Gloria Petyarre. The Corrigan Walk Art Tour is free once a semester, providing insight into these works and highlighting the artists and Dreamtime stories woven into each piece and Indigenous art history.
Where: 14 University Drive, Robina
Minjungbal Aboriginal Cultural Centre
The Minjungbal Aboriginal Cultural Centre is a great place to start for a unique insight into Aboriginal culture. On offer are museum exhibits, informative videos, Aboriginal art and traditional dances are performed regularly in the outdoor performance area. Go on a tour and hear how Aboriginal life was when this area was an untouched paradise of natural forest and mangroves before learning about the cultural significance of Bora Ring, which you can see on the Walk on Water walking track.
Where: 17 Kirkwood Road, Tweed Heads South
The Yugambeh Museum
The Yugambeh Museum, Language and Heritage Research Centre aims to record and promote the traditional knowledge of our region, especially the Yugambeh language, which was spoken throughout South-East Queensland. The team work with and bring the community together through many initiatives centered around the cultural and educational exchange so that future generations have the opportunity to embrace the language, hear stories and truly connect with their Indigenous legacy as a relevant part of their today and tomorrow. It’s an incredible place, absolutely packed with knowledge and well worth a look in next time you day trip northwards.
Where: Corner Plantation Road & Martens Street, Beenleigh
Created by one of the most prominent Traditional Owner Families within the Aboriginal Yugembeh Bundjalaung nations of South East QLD and Far North NSW; Currie Country is the perfect place to learn about our Indigenous history, connections to the country and Aboriginal knowledge systems which exist in the Tweed Coast as you connect to ‘Currie Country’. They run a beautiful Women’s Cruise on the Tweed River where you can learn, connect and create with like-minded women AND an incredible Women’s Retreat which is the perfect chance to rest and re-enliven yourself. We LOVE the work these remarkable women do, and we’re confident you will too.
Where: Tweed Valley Way, Tweed Heads
Words by Alex Mitcheson.
The Gold Coast is known for many things, one of which is definitely our beautiful waterways. Slightly lesser known perhaps is our rich Aboriginal history, wildlife conservation efforts and the passionate locals sharing the stories.
That’s about to change though thanks to Kayak the Gold Coast’s new ‘Heart of the Gold Coast’ half-day tour package.
Incorporating a unique spin on their original tours, ‘Heart of the Gold Coast’ takes guests on a cultural experience unlike anything the Coast has seen before.
The package begins at the Burleigh Jellurgal Cultural Centre where guests watch a short film on the Gold Coast’s Aboriginal history including ancient burial sites and the unique ways of the Yugambeh people who lived in Burleigh Heads over 4,000 years ago.
After receiving an ochre blessing, the tour heads out onto Burleigh Hill where guests are taken on a sub-tropical hike and told stories of the Aboriginal people who lived there thousands of years ago, how they lived and hunted food and how they believe the mountain was formed.
The hike comes complete with stunning views of the Coastline and a dolphin sighting if you’re lucky.
It’s both an educational and spiritual experience and you can’t help but be awe-struck by the passion with which the Indigenous tour guides share their people’s history and beliefs.
A delicious morning tea follows and then it’s sunscreen, life jackets and onto the kayaks for a leisurely cruise down the ridiculously beautiful and tranquil Tallebudgera Creek.
A quick stop over for a dip, past the (huge) local Osprey’s nest and guests pull up to the purpose built kayak ramp at David Fleay Wildlife Park.
Maybe you’ve been to Fleay’s but if not (guilty), there is a lot to learn about the man who paved the way for animal conservation in Australia.
David Fleay was passionate about keeping animals in enclosures the same as they would inhabit in the wild and after moving to the Gold Coast from Melbourne, he and his wife purchased land next to the creek and did exactly that.
With constant research and conservation techniques, he created a wildlife park resembling local wetlands.
The package includes the park’s Creatures of the Night show featuring an absolutely delightful sugar glider and a Bilby who literally buries his head in the sand.
We’re a lucky bunch here on the Coast, surrounded by enriching culture, both natural and historic and people whose passion it is to share that culture with anyone willing to listen.
‘Heart of the Gold Coast’ is an incredibly enriching tour package for both locals who may be unaware of our extensive Aboriginal history and visitors who want to experience our incredible natural wonders while also learning about how they came to be.
· Pick up and drop off from your hotel
· Indigenous history + kayak + wildlife park entry
· Morning tea
· Water, sunscreen & paddling lesson
· Small groups and personal service
· The best of Burleigh Heads
· Toilets + café
· Complimentary photographs of kayaking
Tour package runs from 7.30am until 12pm through Kayak the Gold Coast.
The Gold Coast’s local art scene has blossomed exponentially in the last few years. Galleries, installations and murals have popped up all over the Coast and local artists are making themselves known both here and on the national scene.
If you’re looking for a unique way to spend a day on the Gold Coast, we’ve got just the answer. Here’s a list of local galleries to help you get your art fix.
Wayne Sorrenson Gallery
World-renowned landscape photographer Wayne Sorrenson opened his very own gallery in Miami in 2020 so we, the lucky Gold Coasters get to peruse his breathtaking art anytime we like. Within the gallery, there’s a huge selection of framed artwork to purchase, as well as a range of gift ideas including acrylic blocks, greeting cards and calendars to name a few. It’s all absolutely magical and a lovely stand-in for the international travel we aren’t allowed to do right now.
Where: 40 Lemana Lane, Miami
Anthea Polson Art
Anthea Polson Art specialises in contemporary emerging Australian art and sculpture, including investment works. A regular exhibition programme showcases the work of emerging and established contemporary artists.
Where: 29 Tedder Avenue, Main Beach
Maverick Hair & Art Space
Maverick is a small gallery hosting community art exhibitions and events throughout the year. Headed up by artist Byron Coathup and partner Hayley, the space (also boasting a hair studio) caters for art and design lovers and offers beautiful gifts for purchase from both near and far. Don’t be afraid to head up the stairs and check out the gallery.
Where: First Floor, 1/17 Griffith Street, Coolangatta
The Hive Burleigh Heads
The newest of the bunch, The HIVE was opened very recently by Jo Ellings, a Gold Coast artist who has been creating stunning works for over 30 years and is now sharing that talent with the likes of us. Within the gallery you’ll find an array of stunning works to take home with you or, if you’d like to stay awhile why not grab a ticket to one of their workshops and become an artist yourself. There’s also a regular meetup and music night if you want to meet some like-minded folks.
Where: 5/3 Park Avenue, Burleigh Heads
Level Up studio + gallery
The space is designed to provide access to art experiences for young people and adults within the local community and beyond, through public programs hosting a range of creative activations, such as art workshops, artist talks, school holiday workshops, networking events and an exciting monthly exhibitions program. Emerging artists can apply for space and we can all pop in there to check out the magic. So good.
Where: 72-82 Marine Parade, Coolangatta
The Walls Art Space Miami
The Walls is an interactive space that began in 2012 aiming to serve as a hub of creative practice, critical dialogue and innovative thinking around contemporary art. Their annual program focus is to curate monthly exhibitions in conjunction with their successful local artist in residence program.
Where: 4/18 Mountain View Avenue, Miami
Created by the good people at ArtWork Agency, AW Space is a pretty art gallery slash workshop slash event space showcasing the work of a team of folks whose names you’ve no doubt heard uttered once or twice. They are Claudio Kirac and his equally impressive partners in crime Paul Bow and Laura Strange. All talented within their own rights, the team have combined their forces to create a stunning space filled with beautiful works. Do yourself a favour and get in there.
Where: 2/53-55 Cronulla Avenue, Mermaid Beach
Stop in for a delicious brunch overlooking the ocean and take in the collection of local art and handmade goodies next door while you’re there! The space combines works by local artists with a new store filled with locally made homewares, clothing and creative pieces.
Where: 275 Boundary Street, Coolangatta
19Karen Contemporary Artspace
A stunning space filled with bold new art (and all for purchase!) by emerging, mid-career and established Australian and International artists. Exhibitions curated by Terri Lew rotate regularly, ranging in style and genre from pop culture, surrealism, realism, street art, abstraction and to the still undefined.
Where: 19 Karen Avenue, Mermaid Beach
The Gold Coast’s premier cultural precinct, HOTA (Home of The Arts) has been showcasing visual and performing arts since 1986. With an array of exhibitions, cinemas and dining/bar facilities, there’s something for everyone throughout the entire year. In 2021, we’ll see the precinct increase in size with an incredible new six-level Gallery that’s due to open with world-class exhibitions (including Andy Warhol, Jean-Michel Basquiat and more) plus a showcase of incredible local artists.
Where: 135 Bundall Road, Surfers Paradise
A refurbished warehouse (a piece of art itself) in the heart of Currumbin Waters, Dust Temple and its creative space Hinge Gallery hosts local, national and international artists, musicians and poets. There’s also a fantastic café / coffee shop, so stay awhile and soak up the creative scene.
Where: 54 Currumbin Creek Road, Currumbin Waters