Visitors to the new Mon Repos Visitor Centre will be treated to bush tucker inspired cuisine as the on-site Gidji Café opens its doors.
Crocodile burgers, kangaroo meatballs, river mint cheesecake, and barramundi and vegetable spring rolls are just some of the items on the menu at Gidji Café.
The development of the training and commercial kitchen fit out will allow Gidji Café to offer Indigenous dining seven days a week throughout the year with benefits to flow on through the community.
Gidarjil managing director Dr Kerry Blackman said it was fitting to open Gidji Café and celebrate the return of the turtles to the Bundaberg Region, as the 10-day Milbi Festival came to a close.
Dr Blackman said the new café would help boost the local economy, while helping to preserve the local Indigenous culture.
“The Milbi Festival at Mon Repos today, as the festival closes, how symbolic it is to open the Milbi turtle season tomorrow – how great is that,” he said.
“Gidarjil has been given the responsibility by the Palaszczuk Government to jointly manage Mon Repos and implement the First Nations culture into the centre.
“Mon Repos has been focused on the environmental area since 1968.”
“Mon Repos means rest, but I can assure you Gidarjil will not be resting as we implement Country to Mon Repos.”
Gidji Café opens year-round
Gidji Café will operate throughout the year, not just during turtle season, offering native foods and bush tucker.
He said the vision was that Gidarjil would introduce a cultural dining experience.
“Through the operation of the current café outlet, this facility will be active throughout the year, not just for the turtle season.
“Native food and bush tucker will form an integral part of the provision of the catering.”
He said just as the turtles return home, Milbi Festival brought people and the community together to celebrate.
“The turtles are celebrated, and much like the turtles returning home, the festival brought people together – art, culture and diversity.
“The Milbi Festival is vibrant, it’s contemporary, it’s engaging, and the colours are inspired by the region’s surroundings – the sugar cane, the beaches, the reef.
“The branding is made up of a collection of elements celebrating culture, community, diversity and the Milbi – the turtle.”
State Government support as Gidji Café opens
The new Gidji café was supported by $490,000 from the State Government Growing Indigenous Tourism Fund.
Member for Bundaberg Tom Smith said the Mon Repos Turtle Centre was an icon of Southern Great Barrier Reef Tourism.
“The famous turtle season brings more than 12,000 tourists to the region and we’re keen to see that grow for our visitor economy,” Mr Smith said.
“That’s why the Palaszczuk Government has helped out with funding to build the Gidji Café and the Burnett Heads commercial kitchen and training facility to keep the café stocked with great locally sourced and produced refreshments.
“Not only are we providing a service for visitors to Mon Repos, the Palaszczuk Government is also skilling the region’s young Indigenous workers to find jobs and keep Southern Great Barrier Reef tourism growing for our Covid-19 Economic Recovery Plan.”
Tourism Minister Stirling Hinchliffe said although the turtle season was only just beginning, the Mon Repos Turtle Centre was popular all year-round.
“There’s significant interest in the Mon Repos turtle nesting site with more than 30,000 visitors dropping into the Mon Repos Turtle Centre each year, even outside of the official turtle nesting season,” Mr Hinchliffe said.
“It’s a good location for the new Gidji Café, supported by the Burnett Heads commercial kitchen and training facility for young Indigenous workers.”
Gidji Café opens seven days
Gidji Café at Mon Repos Visitor Centre is now open seven days at Mon Repos Turtle Centre, 9.30 am to 2.30 pm and of an evening throughout turtle season 6 pm to 9 pm.