In 2010, we were privileged to be part of team assembled by Epacris Environmental Consultants that was successful in winning the $0.8m tender to undertake a major upgrade of the Mungo National Park visitor centre experience within the Willandra Lakes Region World Heritage Area.
Nature Tourism Services' role in the Epacris project team was to undertake – in close collaboration and with input from other team members - the overall conceptual/interpretive/exhibition planning and graphic design/signage production required for the project.
This approach led to the construction of an outdoor amphitheatre adjacent to the visitor centre that could function as a meeting place where guides could commence and close out their tours with appropriate supporting infrastructure.
This meeting place includes a replica section of Mungo's renowned fossil human trackways - the oldest and most extensive collection of ice age human footprints in the world. The setting was also designed so as to facilitate its use for a range of other interpreted tour activities as well as to serve as a venue where the elders could gather when on site.
If ever a project emphasised the notion that ideas are one thing - delivering them is another thing entirely - it was the Mungo Meeting Place project.
The Epacris Environmental Consultants project team of which were were a part was a five person team embracing diverse skill sets including project management, interpretation planning, graphic design, landscape architecture, video production, planning consultation / photography / scientific writing and technological expertise in relation to web and 3D replica technology.
The client - the National Parks and Wildlife Service - also had from the outset a major commitment to the project in terms of both creative input and day to day management of stakeholder consultation.
When the challenge of building the Meeting Place then took shape they also made major contributions in terms of hands on staff commitment to assist with the process.
Most pivotally also was the involvement of the Aboriginal custodians of Mungo, who worked with the project to ensure it reflected the hopes and aspirations they held for the presentation of their cultural heritage in addition to ensuring their children grow up strong and proud in their culture.
This level of ownership was strongly reflected on the occasion of the installation's opening on a chilly July day in 2011.