15 July 2022

A taste of life from villages around world en route to Far South Coast

| Albert McKnight
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Birds near a miniature train

The “world village” is proposed to be built near the train at Potoroo Palace. Photo: Supplied.

A new project proposed for the Far South Coast wants to give locals and visitors insight into the many ways people around the world live.

Planning is underway for a “world village” at Potoroo Palace, one of the region’s premier native wildlife sanctuaries near Merimbula.

Local author and project advocate Geof Maher said the idea would be to build 12 models of homes from developing nations around the world at the sanctuary, each about one cubic metre in size.

Life-sized sculptures of endangered animals from each country would be built as well.

“I just wanted to show people what the world is like out there,” Mr Maher said.

“[The] main aim in this project is to open the eyes of the visitors to Potoroo Palace to see how many endangered species of animals there are on land, birds in the sky and creatures in the oceans, not only in Australia but across the globe.

“I consider the human species to be somewhat threatened and perhaps endangered, thus the reason to include the homes and lifestyles of 12 ‘developing world’ countries where life is far less safe and with many more hardships than those we experience here in Australia.”

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He said stage one of the project has already begun with the construction of new barbecues, signage and seating. Stage two will involve the world village and endangered animal models.

The plan includes wheelchair-accessible paths through the models and signage in English, braille and Yuin languages informing visitors what is there.

There is also a stage three involving virtual reality experiences where visitors could travel to any corner of the world to experience nature and other cultures. However, Mr Maher said this is still a long way off unless the project receives funding from unexpected donors.

Bega Valley Shire Mayor Russell Fitzpatrick said the council supported the idea of the project.

He said there was a social justice element to it in that it would give people who may not be able to afford to travel an idea of what is out there in the world.

“It’s a good education tool for our young children,” he said.

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Mr Maher said applications had been made to two grant authorities and he is waiting to hear if they will be successful.

He said several businesses and organisations have already offered their support, but he is calling for more donors to join up.

“To increase the level of compassion in society will be an outcome I’m sure,” Mr Maher said.

“Who knows, a young person who visits this tiny world village may go on to become an MSF (Doctors Without Borders) nurse or doctor or to find a cure for a disease which has puzzled the world for decades … just because of the experience in seeing how the other half live.”

If you are interested in the project or want to make a tax-deductible donation, email Mr Maher at [email protected]

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