Original designs of the Australian Workers Heritage Centre's new entrance building in Barcaldine.
Original designs of the Australian Workers Heritage Centre's new entrance building in Barcaldine.

Iconic attraction reopens after $2.2m upgrade

An "iconic" attraction in the central west has reopened its new cafe, retail outlet and children's area as part of a multimillion-dollar upgrade, creating a better experience for visitors and tourists.

The new and improved Australian Workers Heritage Centre (AWHC) in Barcaldine officially reopened on Sunday, just in time for Monday's 2021 Labour Day celebrations.

Tourism Minister Stirling Hinchliffe was in Barcaldine for the official opening.

He said the new entry building was designed to welcome tourists into the facility directly from the main street.

"The new building features a themed entry to draw guests inside, a cafe-restaurant, a retail outlet, children's activity area, rest room facilities, covered and easy access for disability parking, and environmental utilities such as solar power and water efficient devices," Mr Hinchcliffe said.

"The project supported 75 construction jobs, with 14 operational jobs created and is estimated to generate an economic benefit of $7 million of overnight visitor expenditure per annum for the region."

He said special acknowledgment went to the former AWHC Chief Executive Officer, Bob Gleeson, who sadly died in June last year.

"Bob was a key driver in this project and would be immensely proud to see the completed project," he said.

"It is fitting Bob's daughters Debbie Gleeson and Annette Gleeson, are continuing their father's work on this AWHC project."

The State Government provided $2.2 million for the project, which was funded in 2018 as part of the $12.2 million invested in the outback to increase infrastructure to drive tourist visitation.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said the centre was "iconic", not just for Queenslanders but for all Australians.

"The Australian Workers Heritage Centre is one of western Queensland's most important tourism attractions," she said.

"These upgrades will help to ensure more Australians visit this region to embrace our heritage.

"If you're a history buff and you're yet to experience the outback, I urge you to experience the new and improved Australian Workers Heritage Centre."

Ms Palaszczuk said upgrades were completed in time for Labour Day, which was fitting considering Barcaldine was the birthplace of the Australian labour movement.

Read about the history of the Shearer's Strike of 1891 and how Rockhampton also played stage to the historical events: Alan continues his 50-year fight for rights

For more on the history of the Shearer's Strike and the stages in Barcaldine and Rockhampton, check out the Queensland State Library here: Shearers' Strike 1891

"Barcaldine is a special place," she said.

"This centre tells an important story about the struggle for better working conditions.

"People often forget that the eight-hour day, the 40-hour week and a lot of the other working conditions that we take for granted these days were a result of the hard yards put in by ordinary workers and their trade unions.

"Importantly, this year also marks 130 years since the Great Shearers' Strike, which was the wick that led to the formation of the Australian Labor Party.

"And the official opening timing is impeccable, with Labour Day celebrating the introduction of the eight-hour working day."

The Australian Workers Heritage Centre, which is celebrating 30 years, can be found at Ash Street or through the new Oak Street entrance.

Originally published as 'Special place': Iconic attraction reopens after $2.2m upgrade



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