Last Wednesday was an exciting day for the Macadamia Castle as the media and Federal MPS Justine Elliot and Janelle Saffin joined Tony Gilding as he announced that the Castle will be in receipt of significant government funding this year.
And, in addition to the thousands of families and school children who visit the Castle every year, it is our native frogs who stand to benefit.
A large proportion of the $227,475 that the Macadamia Castle will receive from the Federal Government’s tourism industry assistance scheme will be spent on the establishment of an educational Frog Conservation Pod in association with Southern Cross University. It will serve the dual function of educating people about the importance of saving our local frogs as well as breeding and releasing local endangered frogs back into the environment.
According to Mr Gilding, ‘It has been said that frogs are the canaries of the natural ecosystem. They are the first indicators that things are wrong in the environment,’ he said, ‘and that is why it is so important for us to somehow contribute to their survival.’
‘This will be a long journey,’ Mr Gilding said, ‘First we have to breed crickets to feed to the frogs, and of course we have to establish the right environment for them to live and breed.’
Staff at the Castle will be led by Dr David Newell, frog expert and lecturer at SCU’s school of Environment, Science and Engineering, who will head the Frog Pod research program.
Mr Gilding also announced the construction of 3 under cover areas to increase comfort for visitors to the park.
‘On days when the weather is not right for the beach, we are the number one choice for many families,’ Mr Gilding said, ‘so we want to make sure that there is sufficient cover from the elements and that people can enjoy what we have to offer all year round.’
‘The new highway is planned to open in late 2014 bypassing the Castle,’ he said. ‘We are not taking this challenge lying down and will use these Federal funds to continue our 38 year improvement programme.’
The Castle’s progress also offers reassurance and security for its over 50 employees and over one hundred local suppliers.