St Joseph's Home Neerkol.
Photo Morning Bulletin Archives
St Joseph's Home Neerkol. Photo Morning Bulletin Archives Photo Morning Bulletin Archives

Nightmare at Neerkol: House plans for horror orphanage

LIVING in the infamous Neerkol Orphanage abandoned in Stanwell is not everyone's dream home.

But one developer has been granted approval to convert two of the 132-year-old buildings into a private residence.

Fire damaged the former girls dorm at St Joseph's Home at Neerkol on Tuesday night.
Photo Allan Reinikka / The Morning Bulletin
Fire damaged the former girls dorm at St Joseph's Home at Neerkol on Tuesday night. Photo Allan Reinikka / The Morning Bulletin Allan Reinikka ROK191114aneerkol

Rockhampton Regional Council today moved a motion of approval for the developer, TLE Coombs, to fit out the historical buildings with plumbing and electricity for the new resident to preserve the land.

Mayor Margaret Strelow moved the motion backing the proposal at today's Planning and Regulatory Committee meeting.

Despite Neerkol's unsettling history, the prospective resident wanted to ensure better management of the property and up-keep the buildings as they are prone to trespassing and vandalism by curious thrill seekers.

After a memorial garden was built in honour of the victims in June last year, the site was vandalised to the disgust of past residents and designers who say the vandals had "stolen from the victims”.

READ: Neerkol victim shares disgust over Memorial Garden theft

Ben Cooper and Mark Torr have been working on the Childrens Memorial Garden at Neerkol.
Photo Allan Reinikka / The Morning Bulletin
Ben Cooper and Mark Torr have been working on the Childrens Memorial Garden at Neerkol. Photo Allan Reinikka / The Morning Bulletin Allan Reinikka ROK100316aneerkol

The current 57-hectare property contains eight former buildings and churches used by the Catholic orphanage through the 1900s before closing its doors in 1978.

An initial application was lodged in August for approximately 4,000 square metres encompassing the two existing western buildings of Neerkol Orphanage.

Mark Torr has been the driving force behind the Childrens Memorial Gardens Neerkol.
Mark Torr has been the driving force behind the Childrens Memorial Gardens Neerkol. Chris Ison ROK031116cneerkol2

Initially built in 1885, the orphanage was run by the Sisters of Mercy to accommodate for children transferred from Bucasia orphanage.

More than 4,000 children lived at Neerkol over its years in operation before numerous allegations became public after its closure of workers sexually abusing children.

Since then, 64 brave former residents and staff gave evidence of these assaults in the Forde Inquiry on the horror orphanage.

Many submissions to the Commission of Inquiry into Abuse of Children in Queensland Institutions also came from the Central Queensland orphanage with one former resident describing her life there as a "nightmare”.



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