When visitors enter the Hervey Bay Discovery Centre they are immediately immersed in deep cobalt blue light which dances and shimmers around them. The 360 degree circular space holds a panoramic 6 metre long video screen which reveals distant images of life sized Humpback whales slowly emerging from the depths of the ocean. The enormity of these creatures combined with the grace of their movement is brought to life through the haunting sounds of the whale song. " I feel like I am under the water" offered our first visitors at the opening of the exhibition in September last year.
As the visitor exits this space they pass-by stories of whale migration, mating rituals and interpretations of the whales song. Current research and scientific evidence is profiled through touch screen interactives while bios of Hervey Bay's regular whales are told through a child's storybook format.
Emerging into the aqua shallows of the clear waters on Hervey Bay our visitor meets with dugongs, turtles, dolphins and a multitude of sea creatures that live off these sandy shores. Lighting effects shimmer turquoise tones while these creatures float across the walls of the exhibition. Our visitor learns about corals, colour, bird life and silicone sand side by side with the creation story of the Butchella people.
Stepping out of the shallows onto the sand our exhibit becomes a textural experience with small sand balls making patterns reminiscent of crab feeding tracks. As silhouettes of birds flying overhead throw their shadows all around, our viewer scrolls quietly through a timeline as the fascinating history of Fraser Island is magnified on a large touch screen.
Floor to ceiling graphic images of giant ferns begin a journey into the depths of the rainforest. The worlds largest ant is replicated as an over sized sculptural piece large enough for children to climb. Light throws shadows of rainforest canopy which strangely seems to animate and bring to life the large graphic images on the walls.
Half way through this immersive experience our visitor gets the opportunity to sit and watch a small film based around the Creation Story of the Butchella people. A film made up of extraordinary images capture intimate and magnified happenings in nature. A waxing and waning between colour, shape, texture, pattern and movement that really highlights the innate beauty of Fraser Coast’s hidden treasures. The music written especially for this film transports the audience to a different place. "I had tears pouring down my cheeks", one viewer shared, " the beauty knocked me over."
“As I grew up in a family where my parents ran a school excursion business, I subconsciously evaluate venues for school group appropriateness. This venue was not only enjoyable to visit - very modern, with beautifully creative displays - but also with high educational value. There are exhibits to see, touch, read about, hear and do - no matter how you prefer to learn, there will be something for you here. Interactive touch screens throughout the displays were quite impressive. Live animal exhibits are always a favourite for me. A large media room is fitted out with plenty of chairs and beanbags, perfect for a school group. The short film provided is interesting and would fulfill some indigenous studies outcomes.”
“Overall, the discovery sphere would suit high school biology, geography and indigenous studies classes, as well as primary school groups. It might be beneficial to have some sort of age-specific or subject-specific worksheets to direct students, which I didn't ask about so I'm not sure if the discovery sphere already provides these.”
“Love the whale outside. Very informative displays the huge screen was amazing. Spent quite a while there reading it all and was actually disappointed when realised the next door was the exit. Throughly enjoyed.”
“Awesome exhibit. Family friendly. A great asset to the Hervey Bay community. Love the continual documentary in the theatrette, the kids loved the puzzles and the racing kangaroos. Very informative and some displays are interactive. You learn a lot about Fraser Island, the original inhabitants, the wildlife and the whales. The regional gallery and creative gallery completes the story.”