Governor of Queensland opens the new Mary Cairncross Scenic Reserve Rainforest Discovery Centre
  • Monday 27 February 2017

The new, world-class Mary Cairncross Scenic Reserve Rainforest Discovery Centre at Maleny is now open for visitors to enjoy after being officially opened by the Governor of Queensland, His Excellency the Honourable Paul de Jersey AC, today (Monday 27 February 2017).

His Excellency follows in the footsteps of former Governor of Queensland, Sir Henry Abel Smith, who officially opened the reserve in 1960.

Offering the most spectacular views of the heritage listed Glass House Mountains, the $4.7 million Discovery Centre features an elevated viewing platform and boardwalk and the Rainforest Education Centre with a combination of traditional interactive displays, multi-sensory experiences and exhibits.

There is also a theatrette, a conservation research area and offices and amenities for the hard-working volunteers and staff who run the information desk.

Mayor Mark Jamieson hailed the new centre as one of the most impressive buildings in the region.

“This is a wonderful day for the Mary Cairncross Scenic Reserve and indeed, the Sunshine Coast,” Mayor Jamieson said.

“This reserve is a Queensland icon with highly significant conservation values and has been a popular destination for residents and visitors for more than 50 years.

“It attracts about 200,000 people annually from around the country and overseas and this new Discovery Centre, with so many unique features to enjoy, is going to significantly add to the experience they will receive while they are here.

“Most importantly, it will improve council’s ability to deliver on the Thynne sisters’ desire to conserve and exhibit the reserve’s stunning flora, fauna and scenery.”

The Thynne sisters – Elizabeth, Mabel and Mary – with the aid of their brother Ted, originally gifted the reserve land to Council in 1941 in honor of their mother, Mary Cairncross.

“It is very fitting that His Excellency the Governor has been able to open the new centre during our Sunshine Coast 50th Anniversary year celebrations, when we are celebrating our visionary forbearers – like the Thynne sisters and their brother Ted – who left our community with this invaluable legacy which has been embraced by locals, our community and visitors alike,” Mayor Jamieson said.

Environment Portfolio and Division 5 Councillor Jenny McKay said she was delighted with the new building, which was sensitively designed to fit in with the look and feel of the reserve.

“The wonderful result we have today is thanks to many people, including the Design Advisory Panel, volunteers and the Friends of Mary Cairncross whose contribution has been, and will continue to be, central to the ongoing success of the new Discovery Centre,” Cr McKay said.

“I’d also like to thank the construction team who have overcome a myriad of building challenges this sensitive site presented, including the relocation of more than 200 reptiles and wildlife.

“All this hard work has led to a fantastic outcome and I for one, cannot wait to explore and discover all the new experiences on offer.

“From the elevated boardwalk that snakes its way through the rainforest, to the magnificent views of the Glasshouse Mountains from the new viewing platform and the new café with a ceiling finished in recycled timber from the old café walls, but most importantly, the heart of the building – the Rainforest Education Centre.

“Visitors of all ages will go on a journey of discovery and be inspired as they partake in the combination of traditional interactive displays, multi-sensory experiences and exhibits that will be changed seasonally so there will be something new to explore each time they visit.”

Minister for Education and Minister for Tourism, Major Events and the Commonwealth Games Kate Jones said the new Discovery Centre at the Mary Cairncross Scenic Reserve would be a huge drawcard for visitors to the Sunshine Coast.

“We know that visitors to Queensland love exploring our great outdoors and getting close to nature,” Ms Jones said.

“Nature-based tourism is a key part of Queensland’s $23 billion tourism industry and our Government is committed to building this sector and creating jobs for Queenslanders.

“It’s important that we strike the right balance between showcasing our natural beauty and preserving it for future generations, and this new facility is doing just that.

“The new Mary Cairncross Scenic Reserve Rainforest Discovery Centre Centre will educate visitors on the surrounding rainforest, ensuring our natural assets are appreciated and respected by all.”

The building of the Rainforest Discovery Centre created 261 jobs during construction – of which 92 per cent went to Sunshine Coast locals.

The total project cost was $4.7 million. It included $319,000 of gold coin donations, $30,000 from the Friends of Mary Cairncross, council’s contribution of $3.51 million and $1 million in funding from the Queensland Tourism Infrastructure Fund (QTIF).

QTIF is an initiative funded under the Australian Government’s Tourism Demand-Driver Infrastructure (TDDI) program and administered by the Queensland Government through the Department of Tourism, Major Events, Small Business and the Commonwealth Games.

The TDDI program will invest $43.1 million over four years from 2014-15 – including $7.86 million in Queensland – to drive tourism demand through building capability and tourism infrastructure which will provide a boost to local attractions and the businesses that depend on them.

The Mary Cairncross Scenic Reserve Management Advisory Committee also generously dedicated $250,000 towards the cost of this project.