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Flight Centre founder opens $18m wildlife centre

QUEENSLAND'S most loveable entrepreneur has again invested his time, money and emotions in the region and already has another project in the pipeline.

Graham 'Skroo' Turner, Flight Centre founder, and his wife Jude Turner have poured $18.5 million into a new conservation centre at Grandchester.

The centre - a collaboration between the Turners and The University of Queensland open on Monday - will serve as an education and rehabilitation while creating eco-tourism opportunities for the Turner's nearby Spicers Retreat.

The new conservation and wildlife centre at Hidden Vale. Graham Turner of the Turner family foundation has set up a $18.5m wildlife centre with UQ. Pictured with Zorro a Black Headed Python.
The new conservation and wildlife centre at Hidden Vale. Graham Turner of the Turner family foundation has set up a $18.5m wildlife centre with UQ. Pictured with Zorro a Black Headed Python. David Nielsen

But Graham Turner confessed while he's passionate about the environment and committed to conservation, he also loves mountain bike riding.

"This is also a mountain bike park," Mr Turner said.

"And we're going to combine the wildlife program with mountain biking and hiking.

"We're planning to build a campsite on the other side of the property for about 300 people to service the mountain bikers."

The 3100ha property is already home to Spicers Retreat and now, in partnership with the University of Queensland, a new conservation facility; the Hidden Vale UQ Wildlife Centre.

At the centre's ceremonial opening on Friday, Mr Turner said there had been overwhelming local support to establish a large wildlife corridor.

"The building is not going to change everything but it will give us a focus," Mr Turner said.

"12,000 acres is not enough to release wildlife and expect them to survive

"In the end this facility is just the beginning. It's a symbol of where we want to go, what we want to give back to the environment.

"This is really just the beginning."

 

For UQ's Vice-Chancellor Professor Peter Høj the project, and the Turner's donation was "extraordinary".

"This astounding act of philanthropy will create change for conservation and also for UQ staff and students for generations to come," he said.

"The Turners are passionate about leaving a lasting legacy, a truly protected environment dedicated to the enhancement of threatened wildlife species.

"From this year, the Hidden Vale UQ Wildlife Centre will, for the first time, be able to offer students hands-on access to learn wildlife management techniques and to study a diverse range of native and endangered animals.

"This presents exciting opportunities to heighten the quality and depth of research and learning about endangered and vulnerable native wildlife.

"Hidden Vale's size, the variety of native animals and vegetation and the opportunity to interact with cattle and pest management activities make it an ideal centre for learning."

Topics:  flight centre graham turner ipswich university of queensland wildlife



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