Flight Centre founder Graham Turner and his wife pour $18.5 million into conservation

Grandchester
Travel News 10 Apr 2017
Graham turner
Graham turner

Turner family sets up $18.5m wildlife centre with UQ

Flight Centre founder Graham Turner and his wife, Jude Turner, launched a collaboration with the University of Queensland at their Spicers Hidden Vale retreat at Grandchester, west of Brisbane and committed more than $18.5 million to a south-east Queensland conservation project 

Mr Turner, who along with being the founder was also managing director of the Flight Centre Travel Group, is also a qualified vet and an environmentalist.He said Turner Family Foundation's aim with the Hidden Vale UQ Wildlife Centre was to conserve the Scenic Rim's natural and cultural resources and values for future generations."The objective is to deliver resilient ecosystems with representative, self-sustaining populations of fauna and flora endemic to the Scenic Rim region, supported by applied scientific research," Mr Turner said.

Turner Family Foundation spokesman Andrew Tribe, a senior vet at the Melbourne Zoo, said the property was home to rare and threatened species such as the glossy black cockatoo, square tailed kite, eastern bristle bird, brush tailed rock wallaby, spotted tail quoll, koala, Stephen's banded snake, three-toed snake-tooth skink.

The family's contribution included building costs and ongoing research funding over 30 years at the UQ-operated facility for breeding and rehabilitating wildlife and protecting endangered species. UQ vice-chancellor Peter Høj said the project and donation were extraordinary: "This astounding act of philanthropy will create change for conservation and also for UQ staff and students for generations to come". He also added that from this year for the very first time, the Hidden Vale UQ Wildlife Centre will be able to offer students hands-on access to learn wildlife management techniques and to study a diverse range of native and endangered animals. 
The refuge was a habitat for some of the rarest and most threatened species in Australia. The project would combine wildlife conservation ecotourism and livestock management at the historic beef cattle station, which was first established in 1871.

This article is a fragment originally published on the Sydney Morning Herald and can be read in full here