Rod Laver congratulates Roger Federer on winning the Australian Open in 2006.
Rod Laver congratulates Roger Federer on winning the Australian Open in 2006. JULIAN SMITH

Tourism opportunity missed

ROCKHAMPTON has missed the opportunity to use the childhood home of the city’s most famous resident as a museum and tourist attraction.

The Morning Bulletin understands that if the council or tennis authorities had asked the question, the owners of the house where Rod Laver grew up would have gifted it to be a lasting monument to the former world champion.

For four months the high-set wooden house sat on blocks in Main St, Park Avenue, awaiting removal.

But a spokesman for its owners, Catholic Education, said it didn’t receive a single request about saving the house for posterity.

“If we had been aware of any request, we would have gifted it,” said a spokesman yesterday.

The Catholic Church owned the land and the house for decades and the house had long been a residence for parish priests.

The block is next to St Joseph’s school and Catholic Education wanted to use the land to extend the school car park.

“If we had been aware of any proposal to acquire the house to recognise Rod Laver and display memorabilia, we would have supported it enthusiastically,” said the spokesman, adding the church was strongly committed to maintaining the Rod Laver Tennis Court as a lasting monument to the player.

The house was taken by a removal company and has since been sold and is being used as a residence in North Rockhampton.

Tennis fan Tim Griffin, a mayoral candidate at the last council election, says if there is any chance it could be saved as the centrepiece of a museum to the city’s most famous son, it should be taken.

“I think it is important to acknowledge our history and heritage and when you speak of Rockhampton, no-one has done more to promote the city than Rod Laver.

“When I lived in England and told people I came from Rockhampton there was an instant recognition because of Rod and the affection people have for him.

“As a spokesman and ambassador for Australia he’s been an all-round champion and if the house is retrievable it should be taken to the Heritage Village or Archer Park. It would be a great tourist attraction that would bring people from all over the world.”

Rod Laver left Rockhampton to pursue his tennis dream, and after a career that saw him dominate the men’s game, become the first player to win $1 million in prize money and the first to win all four grand slam tournaments in a calendar year. He has lived in America for years.

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