A Sunshine Coast Hinterland Outdoor Education Centre has been give Development Application approval to “un-develop” after successfully applying for a new Outdoor Education activity precinct on a recently purchased farm property. Queensland Conference and Camping Centres (QCCC) Mapleton purchased the last working farm in the immediate Mapleton area and will use it for a range of innovative experiential education and farm-based initiatives.
The Hinterland town of Mapleton was established with logging and citrus but the region’s farmland has progressively been turned into residential and acreage properties. QCCC Mapleton purchased the 20-acre property on its southern boundary when the owner, Nick Kidcaff, retired from farming after forty years.
“Nick’s property was coveted when this Centre was built in 1983 and Nick honoured a 35-year-old handshake deal to give the Centre first option when he decided to sell” said QCCC’s Director Andrew Grant.
The Development Application approved by Sunshine Coast Council sees the property retained as a working farm, but with an educational purpose. Existing cropping, 350 avocado trees and a working packing shed will be retained to give school children farm experiences, interaction with the food supply chain and paddock-to-plate dining options.
Some outdoor education activities are also planned to be shifted to the site, which has nearly four acres of water for canoeing and raft-building and a rural-themed mud challenge. A small citrus orchard will also be retained to reference the original history of the Mapleton farming community.
However, the largely cleared site will also see significant changes to complement QCCC’s recently established Triballink Aboriginal Activity Centre. A partnership with Goombuckar Creations, Triballink offers six daytime activity options and night-time performances, including bushfood experiences. More than a hectare of the farm will be used to establish touch, taste and feel corridors of local, indigenous bushfoods for use from the Triballink Centre.
The areas given over to the bush food area are strategically chosen. Following the perimeter of the property, they will link several tracts of surrounding ecologically sensitive area, filling in some of the gaps in the Sunshine Coast Hinterland Conservation corridors.
“A lot of what were traditionally Outdoor Education activities, like ziplines and high ropes, are becoming commercialised and losing their educational focus.” said Mr Grant. “This new farm, and particularly what it adds to the Triballink Centre, allows us to re-imagine our Outdoor Education programs and give school students some remarkable experiences, using land, water, sky and vegetation and the knowledge of the local Aboriginal people.”
With the Development Application finalised the farm will be prepared for new activities to begin by the beginning of Term 4.