Malanda Falls Visitor Centre
Linking nature, culture and heritage for a world-class visitor experience.
Client: Tablelands Regional Council
Category: Visitors Centre
Date: September 2013
One of Queensland’s great tourist magnets, the Malanda Falls Visitor Centre was an amazing storytelling experience and a visitors centre that we are proud to have designed and fabricated. A tourist attraction which communicates culture effectively and is rich in varied and innovative experiences will lure visitors from far and wide, helping the community to thrive. Malanda Falls is now the busiest centre on the Tablelands and was awarded a Trip Advisor Certificate of Excellence in 2016.
Malanda Falls Visitor Centre Project Details
When the original Malanda Falls Visitor Centre was tragically destroyed by fire in 2010, Tablelands Regional Council worked with the volunteers and the community to rebuild the Centre. Brandi Projects teamed up with Converge Heritage + Community to fit out an exciting new visitor centre, incorporating interactive elements and interpretive displays for the new building. The Centre was opened by the Mayor of Tablelands Regional Council Rosa Lee Long, in September 2013.
We were pleased to provide the following services for the Tablelands Regional Council:
- Project Management
- Interpretive Display Design
- Graphic Design
- Concept Design
- Internal Elements & Audio-Visual Production
The project needed to be an exciting tourist attraction, promoting a greater appreciation of the unique rainforest environment and culture of the area.
Malanda Falls is located on the Atherton Tablelands west of Cairns, amid the crater lakes and waterfalls. It is an area with a rich history, a fascinating geology and has an important part to play in our environmental future.
The area has some distinctive concepts which needed communicating. The Atherton Tablelands is an extremely interesting geological area, with remnant volcanoes. As well, it is home to unique flora, fauna and endemic species, including the Lumholtz tree kangaroo. It is also a complex rainforest eco-system and the area’s rainforest management system is unique.
The above themes also have immense cultural significance for the Ngadon-Jii people and this history is part of the storytelling of the area. It was important that the resulting interpretation illustrated Ngadon-Jii’s significant connection to country.
The Centre is the best chance for visitors to see the Lumholtz Tree Kangaroo, and this is also an overarching point of difference which needed to play a significant part in the interpretation.
About the Visitor Experience
The visitor centre is a mixture of new technology and hands-on tactile elements. The centre’s varied themes are tied together with the help of the linking element of “Mupee” the Lumholtz Tree Kangaroo.
The interpretation is enhanced through the recording and presentation of special stories about the Atherton Tablelands. Interpretive displays feature the Tablelands’ volcanic geology and history through tactile elements and technological components. Multimedia and other componentry enhance Ngadjon written and spoken stories and cultural themes.
The displays feature many elements which showcase the natural world of the area in both traditional text panels, as well as in new and interesting ways, such as taxidermied insects viewed through USB microscope.
As always, it is important to make these concepts accessible for children. Our design included educational interactive games with “Mupee,” taxidermied insects and animals, and touchable and interactive elements including an exploding volcano, and touch and feel materials to connect science, history and geology with a young audience.
One additional and important feature of the visitor’s centre is its local people. Before designing the exhibition, we knew the local people were going to be very hands on, and this was taken into consideration in our design. Whilst the centre can be visited quite autonomously, we also knew it could be enhanced by local “talking points.” Visitors are enthusiastically met by a volunteer on their journey through the centre. The passion, enthusiasm and local knowledge of Malanda Falls’ volunteers contributes to an even richer and more connected experience for visitors. The volunteers are a credit to the community and a real asset to the Centre.
Features at a glance
- Interactive volcanic map
- Touch and Feel volcanic materials
- Push button activated exploding volcano
- Feature tree sculpture with suspended canopy panels
- Insect drawers with USB microscope and screen
- Taxidermied tree kangaroo
- Various multimedia screens
- ‘Mupee’ game for kids
- Website development
Comments about this Project
“From disaster comes opportunity; and in the process of rebuilding the Centre we have also rebuilt relationships and strengthened connections right across the Tablelands community.” Malanda Falls Visitor Centre.
“If the 100,000 people who’ve gone through here have gone on to spend $5 in the local economy that’s a half-million-dollar boost and that’s probably being conservative really,” Councillor Anthony Ball said in response to the centre’s recent 100,000 visitor milestone.
“The new Malanda Falls Visitor Centre has been rebuilt as an outstanding centre vital in showcasing the World Heritage Area and central to the visitor experience on the Atherton Tablelands.” Paul Chantrill Wet Tropics Management Authority said.
“Considering the rebuilt Malanda Falls Visitor Information Centre officially reopened in September 2014, the number of people walking through the doors is outstanding!” Mayor Joe Paronella.