Cairns Tourism bids farewell to Aboriginal tourism champion
“It is a very sad time for the Tjapukai staff and the Cairns tourism industry as we have lost a pioneer in Aboriginal tourism who helped develop authentic cultural experiences,” said Tjapukai General Manager Shirley Hollingsworth.
One of the first female performers at Australia’s oldest indigenous tourism business has passed away. Hollingsworth said Martha “Cookie” Brim had lost her battle with cancer at the age of 44.
“Cookie was among the first group of Djabugay women who joined Tjapukai in 1995 in preparation for the business expanding from a dance theatre at Kuranda to a cultural park offering more indigenous experiences at Caravonica in Cairns,” she said.
“Cookie was really proud of her culture and was a very strong female among the Djabugay people.
“Using the knowledge she gained from exploring the Kuranda rainforest with her late grandfather Warren Brim, Cookie was instrumental in developing Tjapukai’s bush food and medicines experiences.
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“This included selecting plants to grow in the cultural park which could be used in tours and demonstrations and creating a manual to teach new staff about the cultural food and medicines of the Djabugay people.
“Cookie was the face of Tjapukai for many years with her picture appearing in marketing collateral around the world.
“She was part of the Gold Coast’s bid to host the 2018 Commonwealth Games, travelling to St Kitts in the Caribbean to promote Queensland Indigenous culture to the selectors.
“Another highlight of her career was meeting the Queen and Prince Phillip when they visited Tjapukai in 2002.
“Cookie put in 110 per cent when she worked here and was passionate about ensuring Djabugay culture was presented accurately.
“She would scold workmates for missing work or not doing things correctly, but there was never a harsh word said about her.”
A mother of five and grandmother of four, Cookie gave her eldest son her totem name of Garna, meaning black cockatoo. Garna grew up among the performers at Tjapukai and has continued the family tradition by working there as a cultural presenter.
A celebration of Cookie’s life will be held on Friday September 28 at 1.45pm at Kuranda Pony Club followed by interment at Kuranda cemetery.