Foundation for Rural & Regional Renewal

Located 1,000 km from Brisbane in the southwest of Queensland, Eromanga has a big claim to fame. The rural town, hidden deep in the outback of Australia, may only be 119 residents – but the biggest by far is Cooper, a 30 metre long and 6.5 metre high Dinosaur.

Volunteers cleaning dinosaur fossils ahead of the opening of the Eromanga Natural History Museum which will become an important local tourist attraction.

Eromanga is Australia’s furthest town from the ocean, and was drought declared for 13 years out of the 18 years to 2018. The many challenges brought on by a long drought, paired with the limited access to the town, have made increasing tourism a top priority for the local community.

Until recently, tourism around the region was almost non-existent, until the first dinosaur genus was found in 2004. From then, the Outback Gondwana Foundation founded the Eromanga Natural History Museum (ENHM), and since 2008 has been collecting and processing the fossils found in the area for locals, scientists and tourists to view.

The museum features fossils that have been preserved for more than 95 million years, however being located in a remote area has meant little foot traffic. Visitors faced long travel times to and from the museum, making day trips nearly impossible.

To overcome this obstacle, the Museum opened their own on-site accommodation, bringing more business to the area by allowing visitors to stay longer. Cooper’s Country Lodge offers four-star rooms, and thanks to a recent grant from FRRR, now has new kitchen and laundry facilities for their guests to enjoy.

The team at ENHM received a $20,000 grant through FRRR’s Tackling Tough Times Together program, funded by Australia Post, which allowed them to purchase equipment and fit out their onsite kitchen, laundry and support services. There is also a commercial kitchen featuring a microwave, griddle, deep fryer and new cookware, together with dining furniture and outdoor table & chairs.

The investment is already paying off. Despite the lockdowns and travel restrictions throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, the popularity of the ENHM and Cooper’s Country Lodge has only increased, as Queenslanders have spent their holidays travelling in their own backyard. In 2020, the ENHM received the TripAdvisor Travellers Choice Award, meaning the Museum is in the top 10% of attractions worldwide.

If you head north along the stunning beaches of the Kingsborough coast in southern Tasmania, you are bound to hit the town of Kingston. It’s one of the more central points on this 300km long beach, and the home to about 1,990 people.

Though small in size, Kingston plays a big role in coast-safety for a good chunk of southern Tassie. The Kingston Beach Surf Life Saving Club (KBSLSC) is the most accessible lifesaving club in the south, and therefore part of the Surf Life Saving Tasmania’s emergency response services. The Club provides equipment and volunteer personnel that are on-call 24/7, ready to respond to emergency situations as tasked by TasPol.

The KBSLSC is community-run and supported by a group of volunteers – passionate locals between the ages of 15 to 70 – who all take their job of beach-safety very seriously. Last year, the Club wanted to increase their preparedness for, and ability to respond to and recover from, emergency flood and bushfire events. Having heard of the FRRR Strengthening Rural Communities grant program, they decided to give it a go, and wrote a great application explaining why they needed new equipment, and how it would benefit their community. We were impressed by their commitment to increasing disaster preparedness and resilience and, needless to say, the application was approved! 

The $3,382 grant, generously funded by Australia Post, allowed them to purchase an inflatable rescue boat training dummy, Bluetooth ICOM waterproof radios and stereo headsets – exactly what they needed to conduct their new water rescue and evacuation training.

With this new equipment on hand, the members were excited about their new state-of-the-art gear and the ability to train for real life rescue scenarios. “We are proud of our members using the equipment often and when needed,” the Club said in their assessment. They also told us the ‘dummy’, in particular, was an instrumental piece of equipment for the patrolling members, as it made the training more realistic and effective.

They were all very pleased to have made the community an even safer place in the event of natural disasters. “We just wish we had more surf at our beach!” an SLSC staff member said.