By HARRY CLARKE
A COMMUNITY-DRIVEN major upgrade of the Tara Lagoon parkland will be complete with the addition of a “bush tucker trail” aimed to acknowledge and celebrate the Western Downs region’s proud indigenous heritage.
The popular recreational and caravan camping spot on the northern side of town has undergone a $4.8 million facelift which the local council said would drive economic activity and entice more visitors to the area.
There are now some 28 powered caravan sites with upgraded ammenities blocks, children’s playgrounds, exercise facilities, and a 2.8km footpath around the lagoon which includes a modern boardwalk along the southern banks.
The project has been led by the Tara Futures Group, which secured funding from the Western Downs Regional Council, the state and federal governments, and major regional gas companies Origin and Shell QGC.
Former Tara Futures Group president Joe Abbott said the concept and planning of the Lagoon Parklands upgrade was carried out solely by community members.
“It was a big effort but it was a community effort and we were able to carry it through,” Mr Abbott said.
“To begin with, we decided to have what we called an ‘inspirational walk’ to see what we could do down here at the lagoon, and from that we got a whole lot of ideas – there were 48 people involved in the walk.
“We consulted with the community the whole time about what we were doing and how we were going about it.
“It’s a big area, there’s a lot of room here, and there’s even more room to do more. We’re looking at a few add on projects.”
Tara Futures Group member and local indigenous leader Ken Riddiford will spearhead the addition of “bush tucker trail” at the parklands aimed to celebrate the Barunggam indigenous people who are native to the area.
He said fruits, seeds, nuts and plants used to make tools and medicines would be planted around the lagoon to educate visitors on the native flora and fauna used by local Aboriginals.
“We’ve talked about having Aboriginal content within the parklands, and probably one of the easiest and best ways to do that in the beginning is to put a bush tucker trail down,” Mr Riddiford said.
“Bob Duncan and I will be looking for places to do it and types of trees we want to plant.
“We want to have trees that were of use to the local Barunggam people, so that we can create the foods they were eating and building gunyah huts and that sort of thing.
Barunggam land covers are large part of the region between Moonie, Dalby, the Bunya Mountains, Barakula and Condamine.
“The Barrangum people would have been living here during good seasons like we have now, because the food sources wouldn’t have been great during drier times.
“Generally they would have followed the Condamine River around. That was their main sources of finding food. Most of our boundaries were defined by waterways and ridges.”
Western Downs Regional Council mayor Paul McVeigh said the upgrades at the Tara Lagoon Parkland had delivered safe, modern facilities that promote the natural beauty of the Lagoon Parklands.
“This project which has delivered a variety of exciting new facilities including a beautiful new boardwalk over the lagoon, nearly one kilometre of new concrete footpaths, water bubblers, fire pits, picnic settings, significant landscaping, new barbeque areas, new amenities and new bitumen roads,” he said.
“This is a great example of Government and community working together to achieve a fantastic outcome for the area, and I thank the Tara Futures Group for their integral role in the projects.”