Woppaburra man Bob Muir spoke at the inaugural Indigenous Tourism forum on Monday
Woppaburra man Bob Muir spoke at the inaugural Indigenous Tourism forum on Monday

Indigenous tourism operators join forces to face challenges

Woppaburra man Bob Muir sat down with other Central Queensland stakeholders on Monday to explore opportunities for creating new, and expanding current, indigenous tourism.

The inaugural forum, presented by Capricorn Enterprise in partnership with government agencies and industry bodies, was held at the Dreamtime Cultural Centre.

Mr Muir has conducted tourism and education experiences, such as walk and talk tours, on the Keppel Islands since the 90s.

He introduces visitors to the bush tucker and historic sites important to traditional owners who were forcibly removed from the island in 1902.

The Woppaburra people anticipate their native title claim might prove successful next year.

“Native title gives us the right to be at the table when decisions are made, rather than finding out later on that decisions have been made on our behalf,” he said.

“On the mainland they’re talking about mining and other things, but on the island it’s mainly about the future of the resort.”

The Woppaburra also have land which Mr Muir said would be conducive to smaller “tent-type” camping for school groups.

But he said progressing indigenous tourism ventures was a difficult cross-cultural exercise which native title made more complicated.

He spoke with other forum attendees on Monday about the challenge of meeting challenges such as financial modelling requirements.

“Even among our own groups, there’s some conflict that arises when it comes to how all the committees and organisations relate to each other,” he said.

“Especially since native title, some people have used the confusion over who to talk to as an excuse not to talk to us at all.”

Mr Muir said that, over the years, the one thing he found helped get projects underway was a little bit of goodwill.

“So long as we have a place at the table, we learn to swallow the hard lumps every now and then,” he said.

“A lot of our young people moved away so we have to keep working hard to make them proud to come back to the Keppels.”