November 2017

Nov 29, 2017

Oyster trial underway

Work has started on the Pilbara Rock Oyster Research and Development project with oyster collecting equipment deployed off the Dampier coast this week.

Pilbara Development Commission Chief Executive Officer Terry Hill said it was an important milestone not only for the project, but also for the development of aquaculture in the Pilbara.

“Oysters naturally grow in abundance along the Pilbara coast, so there is a significant opportunity to establish a commercial industry which would result in new regional jobs and economic growth,” Mr Hill said.

“On paper, the conditions, climate and market demand make it a no-brainer. Now we’re getting on with collecting the scientific evidence we need to prove it’s economically viable on a commercial scale.”

The three-day installation, managed by Maxima Pearling Company, was completed in time for peak spawning season to maximise the collection of oyster larvae, known as spat.

Maxima Pearling Company General Manager Steven Gill said there were two oyster species found on the Pilbara coast.

“In this trial, we’ll target the Tropical Blacklip oyster as it has been shown in other regions to have a rapid growth rate and good market attributes, including size and taste,” Mr Gill said.

The project site, located 30 kilometres north of Dampier in Flying Foam Passage, consists of four trial sites marked by buoys.

Mr Gill said most of the equipment was not visible from the surface and reminded recreational boat users in the area to be vigilant.

“The project will have no major impact to boaties travelling through the channel, however it’s important to remind the community that it’s an offence to interfere with aquaculture equipment.”

The Murujuga Aboriginal Corporation will support the project by providing monitoring and sampling through the Ranger program.

Murujuga Aboriginal Corporation Chair Raelene Cooper said it was an exciting opportunity for the broader activation of the national park.

“We’re committed to sharing the rich cultural assets of the park with visitors from around the world,” Ms Cooper said.

“The potential opportunity to show tourists our sea country and then serve up freshly shucked local Pilbara oysters would be a truly unique experience.”

It will take three to four months for the spat collection to be completed. The oysters will then be transferred to grow-out baskets where they will grow until they are a marketable size, which may take around two years.

Maxima Pearling Company received an aquaculture research permit from the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development in September 2017.

The Pilbara Rock Oyster Research and Development Project is a partnership between the Pilbara Development Commission, Fisheries Research Development Corporation on behalf of the Australian Government, City of Karratha, Murujuga Aboriginal Corporation and Maxima Pearling Company.

FRDC project reference: 2017-061 Pilbara rock oyster research and development program.

Tourism first for the Pilbara

The Pilbara’s first on-country camping experience has been developed at Peedamulla Station, 75 kilometres north-east of Onslow, under an Australian-first initiative.

Visitors now have an opportunity to mix and meet with the local Aboriginal community to learn more about local culture, stories and lifestyle.

Set on the Cane River within a pastoral station managed by the Jundaru Aboriginal Corporation, the newly-built campground has modern amenities, powered and unpowered sites and views across the expansive countryside. A historic station building originally constructed in the 1800’s has also been restored and will be used as the campground office and shop.

Pilbara Development Commission Senior Project Officer Carolyn Biar said there was growing demand for affordable camping options from the self-drive tourist market.

“This on-country experience with Traditional Owners is unlike anything else currently on offer in the Pilbara and is a great example of the potential for tourism development in the region,” Ms Biar said.

“The Peedamulla Campground will benefit from the network of Camping with Custodians sites as they are developed and the brand grows in recognition with travellers seeking authentic engagement with Aboriginal people. The Commission congratulates the Parker family and particularly Caroline Parker for their efforts in establishing this venture.”

The new campground at Peedamulla Station will create income, jobs and training opportunities for local Aboriginal people. The Pilbara Development Commission provided $50,000 funding to support the site selection and business case development for Peedamulla Camping with Custodians.

After a ‘soft’ opening in October 2017, the Peedamulla Campground closed in late-October and will reopen again in March ready for the 2018 tourist season.

Peedamulla is the third Camping with Custodians project completed in Western Australia, following the opening of the Imintji and Mimbi campgrounds in the Kimberley. Camping with Custodians is an Aboriginal tourism development initiative of Tourism Western Australia.

Project powers ahead

The Pilbara Underground Power Project has reached a significant milestone with underground works completed in Onslow in September, one month ahead of schedule.

Horizon Power’s Manager of the Pilbara Network James Carney said it was a great step forward for Onslow.

“Onslow residents are not only enjoying underground power as a result of this work, they are also benefitting from improved streetscapes, better street lighting, safer roadsides and a more reliable power supply. I would like to thank the community for their support during the delivery of this important project,” Mr Carney said.

The milestone comes as the final suburb was connected to the new underground network in Karratha last month, in time for cyclone season. Final works, including dismantling old power poles is due to be completed in early 2018, marking the completion of the project in its entirety.

Pilbara Development Commission Chief Executive Officer Terry Hill said continued investment in the Pilbara’s economic infrastructure would support future commercial, industrial and residential growth.

“The Pilbara Underground Power project will bring lasting and valuable benefits to people and businesses with safer and more reliable power particularly during and after extreme weather events,” Mr Hill said.

The benefit of the project has been apparent over the last two cyclone seasons.When Cyclone Christine hit the Pilbara coast in December 2013, 7,000 customers lost power with the worst affected areas being Karratha, Point Samson and Roebourne. In Port Hedland, which had been undergrounded, only 100 customers lost power due to a remaining overhead component of the network being damaged.

The Pilbara Underground Power Project is a partnership between the State Government's Royalties for Regions initiative, Pilbara Development Commission and Local Government, delivered by Horizon Power.

Contract awarded to local firm

A Pilbara-based business has been awarded a $4.4 million contract for the redevelopment of the historic Victoria Hotel in Roebourne.

Work is now underway on site to restore the historic building to its former glory, with an Aboriginal employment training model at the heart of the approach to maximise benefits to locals.

To oversee the implementation of this model, the appointed contractor, GBSC Yurra, has established working relationships with North Regional TAFE, Roebourne Senior High School, Roebourne Regional Prison and Aboriginal employment provider REFAP.

Minister for Regional Development Alannah MacTiernan said providing long-term skills to the local community should be at the heart of a project like this.

"We have driven an approach that will maximise the value of State Government investment by refocusing the project to creating work-readiness in the community,” Minister MacTiernan said.

Yindjibarndi Aboriginal Corporation Chief Executive Officer Michael Woodley said the project was a major milestone for the Roebourne community.

“The restoration will form the basis for the revitalisation and activation of our town centre,” Mr Woodley said.

Once complete, the Victoria Hotel will incorporate commercial space for small businesses, a visitor information centre, an eatery and a multi-purpose function space. Despite the name, the Victoria Hotel will not operate as a licensed premises.

The project is made possible with an equal investment of $2 million from the State Government's Royalties for Regions program, the Australian Government's National Stronger Regions Fund, and the Yindjibarndi Capital Trust.

For more information visit the project website.

New home for netball

Local netballers will enjoy better facilities, with the official opening of the Port Hedland Netball Pavilion at Faye Gladstone Netball Courts in South Hedland last week.

In partnership with BHP, the Pilbara Development Commission, the Town of Port Hedland and Port Hedland Netball Association were delighted to celebrate the opening of the new pavilion.

Constructed by Emirge, the pavilion provides the Association’s 400 members with a much-needed upgrade of toilets and change room facilities; improved kiosk area; a match office and multi-purpose function room for meetings, training and development and events; and safer and more secure storage.

The Association has worked hard to bring the project to fruition for more than five years, and praised the support and vision of community partners to achieve an outstanding outcome.

“We couldn’t be more grateful to our partners in this project. This is a true community development, driven by the dedication of volunteers and the generosity of local businesses and organisations,” said Association Vice President Lisa Lock.

This is a significant partnership project with investment from the Town of Port Hedland, BHP and the Pilbara Development Commission to build a new multi-purpose facility. The Port Hedland Netball Association has played a key leadership role in securing the commitments and funding for the project, and have demonstrated what can be achieved with collaboration with government and industry,” said Mayor Camilo Blanco.

“BHP is pleased to support a wide range of local community groups, including the Port Hedland Netball Association. The development of the new Port Hedland Netball Pavilion will have great benefits for the local sports community, and we are proud to have been on board since the beginning of the project,” said BHP Manager Pilbara Communities Chris Cottier.

“Sport is at the heart of connected regional communities and the new pavilion will be a valuable addition to Port Hedland’s growing network of high quality sport and recreation facilities. The Commission is pleased to support this project through the Regional Grants Scheme, which empowers organisations to create positive change for their community,” said Pilbara Development Commission Chief Executive Officer Terry Hill.

BHP contributed $1.6million to the construction of the new facility, in addition to a $30,000 grant in 2013 to prepare a feasibility study and needs assessment for the redevelopment. The Pilbara Development Commission contributed $170,000 towards the project, and the Town of Port Hedland, which owns Faye Gladstone Netball Courts and the new facility, contributed $50,000 and made a valuable in-kind contribution, project managing the redevelopment of the clubhouse.

A number of local businesses made in-kind contributions through the life of the project, including McMahon Services and Goodline.

Staff Profile: Terry Hill

Hailing from Bunbury in WA’s south west, Pilbara Development Commission Chief Executive Officer Terry Hill is drawing on his experience in industry and business development and product marketing to lead the growth and development of the Pilbara.

At the helm of the Commission for almost three years, Terry says his move to the Pilbara has been a very rewarding one.

“My family and I have lived in a number of towns across WA including Carnarvon and Bunbury, and we even had a short stint at Cocos Keeling Islands, so living in a regional town is nothing new to us,” he said.

“There’s something very special about living in regional WA, it’s a wonderful place to meet new people and enjoy a more relaxed lifestyle. Importantly, you get a sense that you’re really making a difference to people’s lives, whether that’s through work or sport or volunteering, and that’s very rewarding.”

Never one to shy away from getting his hands dirty, Terry recently took a hands-on approach in the Pilbara Rock Oyster R&D project, collecting oysters off rocks in Dampier and inspecting them before they were sent to the multi-species hatchery in Albany.

“I think it’s really important to get out in the field and experience things first hand when you get the opportunity, you gain a greater appreciation for the work your staff do and the potential economic or social impact of a project.”

Terry said there were many highlights from his time with the Commission, and while there were too many to list them all, there were a few stand-outs including the opening of the East Pilbara Arts Centre in Newman.

“To see the joy on the faces of locals and the Martu was fabulous, and now to see the growth in the number of artists and paintings since the opening is a great outcome,” Terry said.

Terry also notes the Paraburdoo Child Care Centre opening along with the engagement process for the Regional Investment Blueprint as high points during his time at the Commission.

“Building partnerships with community, local government, local business and the resource sector to deliver projects which are transforming the region is a unique part of the job.”

Terry has had a broad range of career experiences from leading the team that was progressing the development of the Pink Lady apple and its brand internationally and working closely with the local vegetable industry to develop export markets, to leading a large Australian Centre for International Agriculture Research in Indonesia.

He’s passionate about being active and healthy and when he’s not at work or spending time with family, you’ll find Terry in the outdoors surfing, fishing or swimming. The Pilbara is the perfect place to do this with plenty of sun, amazing recreation facilities and the bleached beaches on the islands of the Dampier Archipelago.

Summit forges pathway to more innovation in the regions

A summit to drive innovation in regional WA was held in Bunbury last week where 130 regional leaders and innovative practitioners and thinkers came together to develop a roadmap to support business and industry growth in the regions.

Minister for Regional Development, Alannah MacTiernan said fostering an innovation culture could be the catalyst for the creation of new jobs and industries.

“There is already so much innovation happening in our regions; we need to play to these advantages region-by-region, and are committed to charging this innovative streak by backing businesses and industries who are leading the way,” Minister MacTiernan said.

Pilbara Development Commission Manager Infrastructure Richard Bairstow, who attended the conference, said promoting innovation would be key to the Pilbara’s future economic prosperity.

“Innovation is a key driver of economic growth. Innovation requires asking whether we can make improvements, or do things differently or better to create better outcomes. A key insight from the summit was that while supporting start-ups in their infancy was important, we must also provide support for established small businesses with the potential to grow as they are the largest creator of jobs,” Mr Bairstow said.

An ongoing challenge for businesses of all sizes across regional WA continues to be the lack of suitably skilled workers.

“The Pilbara has seen the consequences of this challenge in the past, and it continues to be a barrier to growth for small to medium businesses. It will continue to be a challenge for the Pilbara, particularly as we diversify the economy and demand grows for new sets of skills in industries such as tourism, agribusiness and renewable energy,” Mr Bairstow said.

Key opportunities identified for regional WA included supporting industries such as agriculture, mining, energy and tourism to embrace emerging ‘smart’ technology in order to transform the profitability and sustainability of their sectors.

“These are key strategic areas of growth the Commission is already working towards developing for the Pilbara,” Mr Bairstow said.

“It was encouraging to know our areas of focus are aligned with global trends, however it was also a reminder to ensure we are continuing to push the boundaries and testing new ideas. Just because an industry has been developed a certain way in the past, doesn’t mean it’s the best way to go in the future.”

Outcomes from the Regional Innovation Summit will guide the investment of the State Government’s $4.5 million regional component of the New Industries Fund and inform future initiatives and projects aimed at creating jobs, and developing talent and skills in the regions.

There will be post-event reports, publications and actions including;

  • WA Innovation Ecosystem Asset Audit
  • Regional Innovation Strategic Roadmap with Action Plan
  • Information about the application process for the regional component of the NIF

A number of presenter podcasts were also recorded and these will be available to share over the next few weeks.


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