Huge Turtle Hero hits Berserker

A giant five-tonne turtle is building a nest in Berserker, combatting erosion and bringing the community together, thanks to Multicultural Development Australia (MDA) who were recently awarded a bursary thanks to Fitzroy Basin Association Inc. (FBA).

The huge shelled specimen is decreasing erosion, upcycling salvaged material and finding fulfilling jobs for members of our community.

MDA is one of Queensland’s largest multicultural agencies, who work hard to help new community members settle into society. An area of the Armstrong Street Community Garden was prone to erosion as fast-moving water flooded the site during heavy rain events. Wanting to decrease the speed of the overland water (giving it a chance to soak into the land), the giant 3D turtle idea was hatched. However, to bring this idea to fruition MDA needed financial support.

To help the project grow legs, passionate MDA Site Supervisor Sonia Thomas, on behalf of her trainees, applied for an FBA 2019 Community Bursary. The innovative idea quickly secured the group a $1,000 FBA Bursary and work commenced. Strategically placed in the landscape and built from old tyres and broken bricks the body of the turtle utilizes five-tonnes of resources that were destined for landfill. The FBA Bursary contributed to the procurement of native plants and building equipment.

What makes this project even more impressive is the team behind the turtle. MDA work with refugees, international students, people seeking asylum and migrants plus local community members to achieve the best settlement outcomes possible. Over the last three years, MDA has helped 78 people in Rockhampton gain a traineeship in Conservation and Land Management through funding from the Queensland Government Skilling Queenslanders for Work Program.

As a part of the traineeship, the group of 13 current trainees were tasked with the job of decreasing erosion in the garden using recycled materials – a task they met with great style.  Finishing touches are being made to the 3D Turtle with trainees carefully caring for the young native plants. Four of the 13 trainees have already secured full-time work in the Rockhampton region putting their newfound skills into practice.

The shelled sensation isn’t the only spectacular thing hiding in Armstrong Street Community Gardens. After being cared for by 78 MDA trainees over the last three years, the garden is full of healthy happy plants and other clever recycled inventions. Everyone is welcome to visit the garden at any time; or better yet volunteer to help maintain it.

MDA are just one of the 19 community groups in the region who have secured an FBA Community Bursary in the last six months. FBA has recently opened a new round of Community Grants. Up to $10,000 is available for community groups, tradition owners, landholders, individuals and businesses with project ideas that improve ecological values, land management or sustainability while increasing community awareness, participation, connectedness and stewardship. To learn more about previous FBA Grant and Bursary recipients or to apply for funding visit