Aboriginal Heritage tourism complex opens in Kojonup

The small community of Kojonup, located three hours south of Perth, recently opened its unique tourist complex. The $2.2 million Kodja Place Aboriginal Heritage Interpretive Centre was officially opened by the Governor of Western Australia, Lieutenant General John Sanderson AC. Kodja Place is a contemporary tourist complex combining Aboriginal culture, rural heritage and Australian roses to showcase the ingenuity and the spirit of life in ‘the bush’.

It incorporates an Interpretive Centre, Gallery, Visitors’ Centre, community and conference areas and a rambling 2.5 acre Australian rose maze. An initiative of CEO Wally Lenyszyn some four years ago, Kodja Place is a unique exploration of the relationship between Aborigines and non indigenous settlers and the changing landscape of Australia.

Shire President, John Charlesworth, said the project has been one of the most controversial ever undertaken by the Shire of Kojonup but the results are world class. He said that with a population of just 2,145, the Shire of Kojonup attracted $1.7 million in grants from the State and Federal Governments, with a further $500,000 contributed by the local community through donations, labour and other in kind support.

“The Council’s ability to see the potential of tourism development within Kojonup and the Great Southern region has led us to create what we believe will be one of the more significant tourist attractions within the State, as well as having national and international appeal,” Councillor Charlesworth said.

Councillor Charlesworth said the project had also created new and diverse employment opportunities, with seven people, including five indigenous trainees, already employed at the Kodja Place.

A group of over 200 volunteers who have worked on the project during its four year development have captured the entire district’s imagination, spirit and heart. “Kodja Place symbolises the struggles of our ancestors and the hope for our future,” the Shire President said. “It symbolises trust, friendship and community cooperation and most importantly is an icon to reconciliation with our Aboriginal community. The Kodja Place has brought together so many people in our community, creating the kind of bonds and friendships on which our town thrives.”

The centre is open seven days a week and is already attracting 300 visitors per month.