One of the highlights of an official visit by Her Excellency, the Hon Kerry Sanderson AC, to the West Kimberley in July, was a late afternoon tour along the Fitzroy River aboard the WA Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions’ Parks and Wildlife Service’s new boat Ms Casey Ross in the spectacular Geikie Gorge.
The gorge is part of an ancient limestone barrier reef that snakes across the region, and was laid down in an ancient sea that covered a large part of the Kimberley in Devonian times, some 350 million years ago.
“The rugged wilderness across the land and sea is breathtaking in the Kimberley, and seeing the gorge from the water is a fascinating way to learn about its formation” Her Excellency said.
“This is the second time I have had the opportunity to see this wonderful sight and the trip on the new boat was an experience not to be missed, and the commentary by the rangers was a highlight also. Residents in the local towns and communities are lucky to live against the Kimberley’s remarkable backdrop.”
The Governor also visited Yawuru Birragun Conservation Park encompassing the fascinating Broome Bird Observatory, and was impressed by the dedication of traditional owners, staff, and volunteers, who work together to conserve the unique landscape and its fauna and flora.
The Broome region is home to more than 325 species of birds. This is more than one third of Australia’s total species and includes 55 species of shorebirds, which is nearly a quarter of the world’s total.
The Broome Bird Observatory allows viewing and study of the many migratory shorebirds which visit the region. Visitors learn the amazing story of the lives of these birds and can witness some of the great sights in nature: the vast roosting flocks during high tide; foraging on the mudflats as the tide falls; and their departures for Asia, as they begin their migration in March/April each year.
The Broome Bird Observatory is operated by Birdlife Australia as a research and education facility and also provides accommodation, camping and tours.
“The joint management of the Yawuru Birragun Conservation Park, in which the Observatory is situated, between the Yawuru Park Council and the Parks and Wildlife Service is an important partnership that will ensure the best protection for the marine and land areas as well as its cultural significance.”
The relationship of Yawuru people to country is at the heart of their cultural responsibilities and being.
“A common theme among the residents and traditional owners was the sense of pride and respect for their communities and the environment, and the wish to give back to their community,” Her Excellency said.