Future looks rosy for green group

Emily SharpSound Telegraph
Volunteer Pauline Whitehead is looking forward to seeing the centre becoming a buzzing hub for the Rockingham community once more.
Camera IconVolunteer Pauline Whitehead is looking forward to seeing the centre becoming a buzzing hub for the Rockingham community once more. Credit: SOUND TELEGRAPH, Emily Sharp.

Rockingham Regional Environment Centre Naragebup is a not-for-profit community organisation that was first opened in 1999.

Once a hive of activity for education and sustainability in Rockingham, a change in the organisation’s leadership resulted in the centre being closed for about six months in 2016. But a new committee with fresh ideas and plenty of enthusiasm is eager to get the facility back up and running, already offering holiday programs that booked out in January.

Committee member Pauline Whitehead said the potential for Naragebup was enormous but it would take some work to get it back to where it once was.

“It’s about education and sustainability — we’re aiming for it to become a hub for the community once again,” she said.

“The environment group was started by sustainability advocate, environmentalist and Naragebup’s patron Bob Goodale about 20 years ago and he used to say ‘never give up’.

“We’ve got lots of plans in the pipeline and connections with different people.”

The centre includes everything from marine and reptile displays, a butterfly house, natural amphitheatre, bee hives, a playground and a nature trail.

The first ideas for Naragebup were formulated in 1994 with the completion of the centre a labour of love over a six-year period.

Four years of planning, research and consultation, culminated in construction beginning in 1999 after a scale model had been completed and grants were attained, with 250 members on the committee before it even formally opened.

Priding itself on sustainability, the centre was built using hay bales, railway carts and telegraph poles. It also has its own wind turbine and solar panels.

In 1998 the first annual general meeting was held. Students of all ages were welcomed for public lectures and tours before the first environmental festival was held in 1999, with more than 2000 attending.

“With the organisation run entirely by volunteers, the committee is always open to anyone wishing to volunteer or donate materials and expertise,” Ms Whitehead said. “We’re getting more volunteers but obviously the more we’ve got, the more we can do — anybody who can contribute with ideas or manpower would be a great addition to the team.”

The centre can also be used for birthdays and work functions with the committee putting plans in place to offer more workshops, after-school science classes, permaculture courses and bush tucker tours in the future.

“We’re hoping to get the dipping pond done so we can introduce macro-invertebrates again, but for that we need a few more muscles,” Ms Whitehead said.

“We are open on the weekend but if we can get more volunteers we’ll be able to open six days a week. It’s nice to see some life back in the place. It’s buzzing again, which is very exciting.” For more information contact 9527 1226.

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