The TYTO Wetlands facilities evolved from a vision to foster an appreciation for nature, encourage tourism to a small Australian town, and preserve the stunning landscape. The founders began with a simple idea to renew Ingham and ultimately gained $6 million total funding from sources like the Queensland 150th Legacy Infrastructure Program to open the TYTO Wetlands center in 2002. In 1996, sugar cane farmers began efforts to expand their crop into this valuable land containing habitats for a multitude of animals including the threatened eastern grass owl. The founders hoped to protect the land and turn it into an asset for the community that would stimulate the economy and improve overall quality of life for surrounding residents. Developing these 110 hectares of land occurred in two stages. Stage 1 involved restoring the wetlands by planting native trees to build root systems, prevent erosion, and shade out harmful weeds. Other Stage 1 efforts involved building the boardwalks, visitors center, sealed car parks, and other forms of low impact infrastructure to attract visitors and creating a comprehensive management plan to monitor success and maintain the integrity of the land. The second stage involved expanding the facilities by building a technology learning center, regional gallery, business development space, recording studio, and more. It also involved extending the boardwalks so that visitors could explore the land to a greater extent, encouraging visitors to stay longer and interact with the land more so that they may develop a deeper connection with and stronger appreciation for the natural landscape and wildlife living there. Locally, the facilities are used primarily for exercise and education. On an international scale, the world-class destination encourages eco-tourism and immigration to the area. Located away from the main street, the center serves as the heart of the community by revitalizing Ingham with job creation, aesthetic appeal, and natural value. In addition to the ~150,000 annual visitors to the area, the facilities attract niche audiences including birdwatchers hoping to snag a peek at some of the 240 unique bird species in the area. The wetlands are also home to a variety of native Australian wildlife including wallabies, egrets, whistling ducks, magpie geese, turtles, and more. The restored health of the wetlands also benefits surrounding land by preventing harmful runoff into water systems that would have come from the cane farms. Benefits extend even further to enhance the visitors’ health. Programs like 10,000 steps are held to encourage an active lifestyle to improve participants’ emotional and physical health. This program is especially powerful because it reminds people of how different other landscape may have appeared without excessive urbanization or cane farm introduction and instills a sense of responsibility in locals and visitors from abroad to protect the natural value of land. This benefit extends even beyond Australian borders. Human education is key to conservation and an experience in TYTO wetlands may be just what someone needs to think more deeply about the interactions between their daily living habits and their environment.
An archive of the events held at the facilities can be found here: https://www.tyto.com.au/whats-on/