"Water Wise" Exhibition
Situated in Narrabri, the heart of cotton country is the Australian Cotton Centre. Providing the educational front-line for the cotton industry, the centre takes visitors from young children to their grandparents on an educational and fun journey through the Australian cotton industry.
Since it first opened its doors in 2002, more than 55,000 people have visited the centre to learn about this world-leading industry.
Many Australians would be surprised to know that cotton was brought out on the first fleet and has been grown here commercially since the early 1960s. Narrabri is in the centre of this successful industry, which stretches from Menindee in the South of NSW to Emerald in the Central North of Queensland.
Cotton directly employs 10,000 people in these communities and contributes to the local and national economy.
The Australian cotton industry is the most water efficient in the world and produces yields three times the world average. It is these high standards that the Australian Cotton Centre highlights in its new “Water Wise” exhibits. With the prolonged drought, and increasing community and political interest in water, the Australian Cotton Centre addressed this issue with a new two exhibit display. Water was overwhelmingly the major issue concerning visitors that came to the Centre and the interactive “Water Wise” exhibits has helped to dispel some of the myths out there about water and the cotton industry.
For example, cotton is only grown where natural rainfall in the area is greater than 600mm a year. This rainfall makes up a large part of the crop’s water requirements.
The cotton industry will also spend $17 million over the next three years on research projects to make it even more water-efficient.
The first exhibit promotes cotton industry research and explores issues such as water resources, conservation and environmental sustainability. It includes a miniature model of a river-catchment, complete with rain and running water informing visitors about water management and use at river-catchment level. The second exhibit displays an irrigated cotton field, demonstrating water use efficiency and technologies and techniques used by Australian farmers.
Most importantly, the “Water Wise” exhibits highlights the cotton industry’s water saving initiatives, and explains the way water is allocated in the Murray-Darling system. For example, the exhibits detail the water cycle and its importance to regional communities and also that water is only allocated to cotton growers after environmental flows and domestic needs are met. The exhibits through education simultaneously promote and demonstrate how we can live sustainably.
The “Water Wise” exhibits join the other 9 interative exhibits within the Centre to further enhance visitor's knowledge and values of Australia’s Coton Industry and in particular the environmental issues.