Plans underway for reopening of the Heritage Village
The volunteers of the Rockhampton Heritage Village are busy preparing the grounds for a grand re-opening to the public in the coming weeks.
The iconic facility has been closed since March 2020 following COVID-19 restrictions and Rockhampton Regional Council moved to close it temporarily to conduct a business case.
The Morning Bulletin announced Tuesday the findings of the business case and council’s plan moving forward.
The initial works, with a budget of $385,000, will include car park upgrades, new signage, entrance improvements and fencing and visual screening at the back of house.
Councillor for Communities Drew Wickerson said they were looking at getting a digital sign so they can change messaging quickly.
“Obviously we know it is here but from the highway, its hidden behind the trees, the signage could be upgraded,” he said.
The Shearing Shed will also be hired on a dry-hire basis, meaning guests will need to organise their own catering, saving money on council’s labour costs as the venue was running at a loss.
Cr Wickerson said the volunteers were very much looking forward to reopening.
“The volunteers have been back for many weeks now, getting the site back up to speed so we can reopen, so they have been busy doing gardening, cleaning and sorting it out,” he said.
Consultation will be held over the next few weeks, with the community and volunteers, about the next steps moving forward.
“We can’t say highly enough how much we value our volunteers, their passion, input and drive to keep the place going,” Cr Wickerson said.
“It is very important to involve them in the consultation; we can’t do it without them.
“We know where our business case is now and we are going to take that back to the volunteers.
“This isn’t council’s museum, it belongs to the whole community and the volunteers, it’s important everyone feels ownership of it.”
Cr Wickerson put the call out for anyone who may be interested in volunteering at the village.
“We have great volunteers but we always need more,” he said.
“I have an ambition to see this place really come alive as an active and interactive museum but that takes a lot of human resources to do.
“We need people in costumes, people running the displays and the machines, and the cars and you have to provide that consistently.
“If we are going to be playing in that tourism space, people need to know when they come through at any time the museum is open, they will get that same level of product.”
COVID-19 has meant more people are travelling in their own backyards, which Cr Wickerson hoped to capitalise on.
“Australians as a nation are going to be more inward looking, instead of going overseas for a holiday, I think there will be a renewed focus on Australian history,” he said.
“What better way to understand that and know where you come from than to immerse yourself in it and as you come through the gates here, you take a step back in time.
“Static displays, a range of vehicles and buildings and coaches, and costumes … You see that working, the tastes, the smells, and the sounds … that’s the best way to get a grip on what our history is.”