|Blitz Resurrection to be Community Hub|
|From Kathryn Dryden|
The Johnstone Region Landcare and the Johnstone River Catchment Management Association (JRCMA) are preparing a Plan to resurrect and restore the abandoned Backyard Blitz site at the old Innisfail State High School (ISHS). The group hopes the site will become a public hub for learning, conserving, promoting and sharing the values of the Johnstone Catchment as well as a place of leisure.
After Cyclone Larry hit Innisfail in 2006, the ISHS was subject to a 'Backyard Blitz' which was an Australian lifestyle and DIY television program that aired on the Nine Network, to improve the severely damaged school. Landcare Australia coordinated the high profile event involving school students, many regional businesses and local and passionate community members, to turn a ruined and isolated stand of trees on the school grounds into an environmental educational oasis.
Since the school moved grounds, the boardwalk, butterfly house, wetland, fish tanks, insect observatory, amphitheatre, native gardens and nesting boxes that were built, became neglected due to transfer of ownership. Recently, Cassowary Coast Regional Council approved a material change of use, granting Johnstone Region Landcare and JRCMA the permission they needed to start working on a plan for the site's resurrection.
The Plan will outline what needs to be done to restore the site to its former glory which will be informed by assessments of existing buildings and structures. It will also set out the goals of the site and its management in the longer term.
Johnstone Region Landcare's Peter Rowles said, "We are excited to have finally made some headway and been granted access to the site.
"The Blitz was a truly exciting project to be involved with back in 2006, and I am so glad to be moving forward on it now in partnership with JRCMA. The potential for this site is enormous and already our environmental community is coming together to make it a success.
"We anticipate the broader community will get involved to support this fantastic new multi-purpose facility both in its recovery and its use into the future."
The old library which is adjacent to the site will soon be the new home of Terrain NRM and JRCMA, already adding value to the community environmental hub-to-be.
Images: The site after the cyclone, and during construction of the wetland.