6 September 2016
Planning is underway for an exciting expansion of the University of the Sunshine Coast’s Research and Learning Centre on Fraser Island – the largest sand island in the world.
USC Vice-Chancellor Professor Greg Hill said the Fraser Island Research and Learning Centre at Dilli Village, 24km north of Hook Point on the eastern side of the island, was ideally located for use by the University and the Fraser Coast region.
Professor Hill said USC was investigating funding opportunities for an interpretative cultural centre, a new teaching space and laboratories at the centre.
“Very few universities have the privilege of operating a field station in a UNESCO World Heritage site,” he said.
“As a University, we are embracing the opportunities provided by this fantastic centre in an area globally recognised for its outstanding geological evolution, rich ecological and biological diversity and exceptional natural beauty.
“We are planning to use this very special place as a venue to inspire our next generations.”
Professor Hill said the centre was generating exciting research, international collaborations, and exceptional field study experiences for students.
Since the start of this year, hundreds of researchers, teaching staff and students have visited Dilli Village, more than doubling the number of visitor nights from the previous year.
Professor Hill said education activities included field studies for a range of courses from Animal Ecology to Tourism, with teaching closely linked to ongoing research projects on the island.
“Environmental Planning students investigate land use activities, Animal Ecology students survey Fraser’s exceptional flora and fauna and USC’s Outdoor Education students hike, camp and kayak across the island.
“We have paramedic students engaging in ‘real life’ training scenarios, Environmental Science students studying traffic impacts and water quality, and Sustainable Tourism students exploring tourism issues and possibilities.”
Research projects currently underway on the island include studies into the Island’s bee and dingo populations, the impact of four wheel drive traffic, and floating wetlands.
“USC is building a coordinated research agenda for Fraser Island that includes collaborative efforts with international research teams who have used the centre as a base to work on a range of projects,” Professor Hill said.
Dilli Village also provides accommodation and access to field study sites for primary and secondary school groups.
Originally a sand mining camp, Dilli Village was managed by the Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service before being relinquished to USC in 2000. The most recent upgrades at the centre include new catering facilities, extensions to the main communal building, bunk house refurbishments and IT initiatives.
— Clare McKay