The Ninney Rise Collaborations are an outgrowth of the long-running Phantom Dwellings architectural series. In partnership with Friends of Ninney Rise, we are undertaking three inter-connected architectural projects which not only capture the the value of the natural heritage around Bingil Bay, nestled between the Wet Tropics and the Great Barrier Reef, but also the integral Australian cultural heritage of Ninney Rise, the former residence of John Büsst, a great conservationist who fostered an important milieu of artists, scientists and activists such as Judith Wright, Prime Minister Harold Holt, Eddie Hegerl, Francis and Tracey Webb, and many others.
These three projects include an ephemeral floating pavilion upon Ellison Reef; the Dunk Island Activation, involving the design of a cyclone-proof bridge to connect the National Park to Banfield's Grave, and the Interlinkage of the adjoining World Heritage Areas, namely the Wet Tropics and Great Barrier Reef, near the Ninney Rise house.
Detailed background and descriptions of these three unique projects are coming soon.
Ellison Reef Ephemeral Pavilion
This Ephemeral Pavillion upon Ellison Reef aims to draw international awareness to the immense natural value of the reef, but also Ellison's Reef's important historical and symbolic role as a site of activism that led to the to the Greater Barrier Reef's World Heritage status in 1981. It is also an effort to highlight the very present threat the reef faces from Adani in a way that is directly analogous to the story of John Büsst's refusal to allow it be mined 50 years ago.
In 1967, artist and Mission Beach resident John Busst found an ad in the local paper for an application to mine lime from Ellison Reef for use as cheap fertiliser.
The applicant claimed it was dead reef, but Busst soon assembled around him a small group of people to dispute this. Borrowing two home-made boats from local sugar cane-farmers, they camped out on the reef for five days with the two boats moored together, documenting the dynamism of the environment with the help of a young diver from the University of Queensland by the name of Eddie Hegerl.
Hegerl reported a thriving reef, with 26 species of different fish on Ellison as well 88 species of coral described by his colleague Ross Robertson.
No sooner had they beaten the mining bid in Innisfail court than a more serious battle loomed, with the then-Bjelke-Petersen government determined to open the entire reef for oil. Indeed, in 1979, then-mining minister Ron Camm claimed there had been no scientific evidence ever submitted that crude oil would destroy coral. In fact, Camm went further in saying that "crude oil encouraged coral growth".
The tiny Save the Reef campaigners dug in — and led by Mr Busst at his home Ninney Rise that has now been heritage listed — they drove an international campaign that spanned 12 years.
In 1981, the Great Barrier Reef would receive World Heritage status as a direct result.
Find out more here.