DEVASTATING BLAZE: The Waltzing Matilda Centre in Winton was destroyed in 2015. The centre will re-open in April after a $22m reconstruction.
DEVASTATING BLAZE: The Waltzing Matilda Centre in Winton was destroyed in 2015. The centre will re-open in April after a $22m reconstruction. AAP Image/ John Elliot

Rocky's $10K gift to outback council's tourist icon

ROCKHAMPTON Regional Councillor Neil Fisher wants to extend the hand of friendship to a western Queensland town trying to rebuild after a devastating fire.

In June 2015, fire caused by an electrical fault in a storeroom ripped through the iconic Waltzing Matilda Centre in Winton.

The main complex and cafe were destroyed, but the rear section and precious antiques were saved.

Last year a $22 million restoration was revealed, due to open in April during four-day Winton's Way Out West Festival.

Artist impression of the new $22million Waltzing Matilda Centre being rebuilt at Winton.
Artist impression of the new $22million Waltzing Matilda Centre being rebuilt at Winton. Erle Levey

Cr Fisher proposed in yesterday's general council meeting that a gift be provided for the centre's opening.

"We've had a very close working relationship for many years with Winton,” he said.

Councillors decided to pay over half the costs involved in transporting a mini exhibition of Cream, Rockhampton Art Gallery's premier modern art collection, for the opening.

The exhibition was originally scheduled to visit Winton around the same time as the fire and negotiations have been ongoing since then to secure the art for the re-opening.

Construction of the new $22million Waltzing Matilda Centre at Winton.
Construction of the new $22million Waltzing Matilda Centre at Winton. Erle Levey

Council will pay up to $10,000 for the transport costs.

"I think we should always be working with our western councils,” Cr Fisher.

"For the town to go through the tragedy of losing one of their key economic drivers could have gone one of two ways.

"They could have just thrown their hands in the air and said 'this is all too hard'. Instead everybody from the mayor down buckled in and they worked towards making the new Waltzing Matilda centre bigger and better and I take my hat off to them.

"We needed to do something in support.

"That's what friends do and that's very much the atmosphere that's between the two councils.”



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