Expanded and upgraded Dolphin Discovery Centre now open
Friday, 15 February 2019
Premier’s office – 6552 5000
Regional Development Minister’s office – 6552 6200
• $12.9 million project funded through State Government contribution and Lotterywest grant
• Major upgrade features 13 aquariums, interactive exhibits and children’s activity centre
• Premier and Regional Development Minister open new-look Dolphin Discovery Centre
• Redevelopment forms part of a wider project to create a thriving waterfront destination – generating local jobs and boosting the local economy
Premier Mark McGowan, Regional Development Minister Alannah MacTiernan and Bunbury MLA Don Punch have today joined staff, stakeholders and members of the community to officially reopen Bunbury’s freshly revamped iconic tourism destination, the Dolphin Discovery Centre.
The upgrade and expansion, made possible through a $12.3 million State Government contribution and a $600,431 Lotterywest grant, has created Western Australia’s freshest tourism experience in the heart of the South-West region.
Bunbury-based head contractor Perkins Builders completed the project within nine months, with 46 local contractors and suppliers – which resulted in more than 200 local jobs during construction.
Housed in a landmark building which tells a local Noongar story, the new-look facility includes an interpretative centre incorporating 13 aquariums, interactive exhibits, children’s activity centre, a 360-degree digital dolphinarium, as well as a café and function rooms.
Visitors can learn about dolphins and the local environment, have fun in the interactive display area, enjoy a close encounter with wild dolphins in the beach interaction zone, and take a dolphin eco cruise or swim tour.
Thousands have already taken up the chance to visit the new and improved centre since its staged reopening began in December, with reviews from visitors and residents overwhelmingly positive.
Celebrations to mark the official opening of the new Dolphin Discovery Centre will continue with a Dolphin Festival tomorrow (February 16), complete with a host of family friendly activities.
The revamp completes stage one of the Transforming Bunbury’s Waterfront project.
Stage one included development of a world-class precinct stretching from the Dolphin Discovery Centre to the eye-catching Koombana pedestrian bridge that connects to the city. It incorporates the recently revitalised Koombana Foreshore, which was today further enhanced with the official launch of the Wardandi Boodja public artwork – a five-and-a-half metre steel bust which pays respect to local Noongar people.
The sculpture, which was commissioned by the City of Bunbury and funded by the State Government, was created by local artists Nicole and Alex Mickle of Safehaven Studios alongside the local indigenous community.
Comments attributed to Premier Mark McGowan:
“Australia’s premier wild dolphin experience is now even better. People can visit the Dolphin Discovery Centre, check out the interpretative centre – where you can learn about bottlenose dolphins – and then head to the beach or out on the water to hopefully see them in their natural habitat.
“Congratulations to everyone involved in creating this extraordinary experience, which will continue to attract visitors from around Australia and across the world.
“It’s been terrific to see the redevelopment completed with local content, which created hundreds of local jobs to give Bunbury a boost to the local economy. The wider work being undertaken to enhance the waterfront is transforming Bunbury and if you haven’t already done so recently, it’s time to rediscover this city.”
Comments attributed to Regional Development Minister Alannah MacTiernan:
“This is not only a great place to visit, it’s a showcase of local business capability. The project was delivered by Bunbury contractor Perkins Builders from designs by Bunbury practice MCG Architects, with local contractors and suppliers working on the project.
“Breathing new life into this premier regional tourism attraction has also seen employment at the centre more than triple.
“This is a fantastic demonstration of the McGowan Government’s commitment to ensuring local businesses get a slice of the action on government-funded projects, and that local workers see the benefits.”
Comments attributed to Bunbury MLA Don Punch:
“I have been down to the Dolphin Discovery Centre quite a few times this summer and seeing huge numbers of locals, tourists and families playing on the beach, engaging with the displays and enjoying the great food, leaves me in no doubt that the redevelopment of the centre has been a fantastic investment that has delivered our community’s premier attraction.
“It has been a long journey from Mrs Smith feeding the dolphins from her jetty to the amazing facility we have today but it absolutely cements Bunbury’s connection to the ocean, our pride in our place in the world and our willingness to share our experiences with others. I have nothing but praise for everyone who has been involved.
“I am really proud to have been a part of this project from the beginning and to be here now to see this fabulous new facility being embraced by the Bunbury community.”
Photo sourced from Dolphin Discovery Centre Facebook Page.
Centre opening heralds new era in South West tourism
South Western Times
Thursday, 14 February 2019 1:05PM
Tourism experts are tipping Bunbury’s Dolphin Discovery Centre to pump millions of dollars into the economy every year as the new-look tourist attraction gears up for its official grand opening this weekend.
Centre chief executive David Kerr said close to $17 million in tourism cash was expected each year as the centre attracted visitors from across the globe.
While the centre has been open since December, Premier Mark McGowan will cut the ribbon tomorrow night following months of finishing touches and fine-tuning of the $12.3 million redevelopment.
The ribbon cutting event will be followed by a jam-packed Dolphin Festival for the entire community across Saturday and Sunday.
Mr Kerr said the long-term benefits of the facility were endless and following the State Government’s announcement of direct flights between Tokyo and Perth, the centre was likely to see an increase in Japanese tourists along with other international visitors.
“Over the more recent times there has been a drop off in visitation down to our centre from Japan and I think that is due to decreased flight activity,” Mr Kerr said
“I am really expecting there will be a great opportunity for us to leverage off of those direct flights and to get some significant additional visitation from Japan.”
Mr Kerr said the big influx of tourists would also bring substantial economic growth to Bunbury as well as the broader Geographe region.
“One of the projections suggests that it would bring roughly $17 million to the local economy per year,” Mr Kerr said. “The bigger picture for me is us positioning the city as a destination that people will go to because they’re actually looking for it.
“We really want people setting out from their originating point and heading to Bunbury as their planned destination.”
Australia’s South West chief executive Catrin Allsop said the centre was a great attraction to get people to the city before they explored the entire region further.
“It is always beneficial to have a hub in a location as people will be drawn to coming to the Dolphin Discovery Centre and from there will seek other activities in the wider Geographe area,” she said.
Ms Allsop will travel to Japan next week to promote key experiences and said the centre would be highlighted as a major attraction.
“Now that the Dolphin Discovery Centre has been redeveloped, it offers a premium wildlife experience to international tourists and they are definitely seeking those close interactions with our wildlife,” Ms Allsop said.
“We have found an increase in interest in the Bunbury region and I think that is the new foreshore as a whole and not just the Dolphin Discovery Centre redevelopment.”
“It is a more attractive package as a whole.”