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Becoming Minjerribah: Two Future Projects on North Stradbroke Island to Celebrate Traditional Owners

This piece is part of COX’s 2020 NAIDOC series, exploring the theme of ‘Always was, always will be.’

Minjerribah, a sub-tropical paradise located 30km off the coast of Brisbane, is undergoing a transformation. This transition, from a sand mining town to a celebrated cultural destination, will be aided by the development of two structures.

These projects are the Yalingbila Bibula (Whale on the Hill) exhibit and research pod, and the Quandamooka Art Museum Performance Institute (QUAMPI). Both projects honour the history, knowledge and custodianship of the Indigenous Quandamooka People on Minjerribah (North Stradbroke Island).

In 2011, the Quandamooka people gained native title recognition over most of Minjerribah. This recognition covered the Quandmooka People’s interests over land and waters, giving them greater autonomy over the island’s management – including projects such as Yalingbila Bibula and QUAMPI. These developments help us to better recognise our country’s past, giving visitors the opportunity to see, hear and learn the First Nations history.

Yalingbila Bibula – Whale on the Hill

Yalingbila (Bibula (Whale on the Hill) will tell the story of the island’s Traditional Owners and their continuous connection to the majestic Eastern Australian Humpback Whale.

Yalingbila Bibula will house the 15-metre skeleton of the yalingbila (whale) that washed ashore at Mooloomba (Point Lookout) in 2011. The shelter will include information on Eastern Australian Humpback whales, share the traditional stories and connection of the Quandamooka People to whales, and reveal the key role Mooloomba has played in international whale research and whaling politics. The shelter will contain a hydrophone (underwater microphone system) and University of Queensland research pod, giving visitors the unique experience of watching a whale pass, hearing their songs, look at its skeleton and talk to a researcher simultaneously.

The Quandamooka People have been watching the annual whale migration past Minjerribah for more than 20,000 years. Yalingbila are sacred to Quandamooka People as they represent one of their totems.

The Quandamooka Yoolooburrabee Aboriginal Corporation (QYAC) appointed COX and Articulous as consultants for Yalingbila Bibula located at Mulumba (Point Lookout). The structure carefully responds to its landscape and extensive community feedback. The facility will help restore sections of natural topography and vegetation and won’t affect the popular tourist walk, North Gorge Walk, or panoramic views to the whales.

Quandamooka Art Museum Performance Institute (QUAMPI)

The Quandamooka Art, Museum and Performance Institute, (QUAMPI), will be a signature cultural tourism experience for Queensland, bringing together ancient Quandamooka artefacts with contemporary art, music, dance and performance. Located at Deanbilla Bay, Gumpi (Dunwich) on Minjerribah, QUAMPI will also become the home of the Quandamooka Festival.

The proposed building has been conceived as a ground plane, a vertical plane and a canopy – representing the different strata that make up Quandamooka country. The use of Stabilised Rammed Earth to form the walls of the building has been central to the project since design inception, for its capacity to utilise and express the range of coloured sands which comprise the island.

In a document entitled the ‘Quandamooka Design Philosophy’ COX worked with QYAC to distill the elements of Quandamooka culture that were important to incorporate within the project; for instance, the use of local materials and the telling of land, sky, water and fauna stories. The landscape was as important as the design of the building. This wasn’t to be a kitsch nor figurative approach, but one which dignified and celebrated the 12 clans of the Quandamooka nation

This project is being completed in collaboration with The Fulcrum Agency.

Both projects are supported by the Queensland Government’s Minjerribah Futures program.

Becoming Minjerribah

These projects are charting a new future through tourism for North Stradbroke Island – or Minjerribah as it has been known for thousands of years. They will tell stories of Australia’s history and house the practices, skills and innovations of the oldest continuing culture on the planet. These projects help recognise: Always Was, Always Will Be.

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