With tourism a focus of the NSW Government’s funding supplied to Joint Organisations, the Great Cobar Heritage Centre will benefit from a $1.43million upgrade.
Museum staff have described the funding as an “exciting opportunity” to update some of the current displays, some of which are over 30 years old.
Many of the exhibition displays and the building itself are showing signs of age, from scratched Perspex boxes that prevent visitors from properly viewing items to interpretive boards that are starting to disintegrate.
Great Cobar Heritage Centre curator Kay Stingemore said the funding will allow the use of new technology, with screens, tablets and audio devices on some displays as well as new lighting and display methods.
“I hope that in renewing our exhibitions, we will keep our current strengths and much-loved themes and objects, but use some new themes, ideas and technologies,” she said.
“Our strengths include our unique stories and our wonderful objects, especially those that people are encouraged to touch.
“As part of all this, it is planned to re-interpret the site and the building, including opening areas that have not been accessible to the public, such as the paymaster’s office and windows,” Mrs Stingemore said.
She said one of the exciting initiatives planned is a virtual reality experience to immerse visitors in a ‘first person digital mining experience’.
“The VR is intended to be a 360 degree experience giving people an underground mine tour and yes, it will mean wearing a headset.”
NSW treasurer Dominic Perrottet, who toured the museum when he visited Cobar last week, said the work is expected to create new exhibitions, showcase items currently in storage, as well give the building itself some updates.
“This funding will ensure the town’s history is preserved for many years to come, while expanding the collection for current and
future generations to appreciate and enjoy,” he said.
Mr Perrottet said the funding will not only support culture and heritage in the Cobar community and greater far west but will provide a much-needed boost for the local economy by supporting jobs during drought.
“This funding will grow tourist numbers and provide many flow-on benefits for local businesses and community, from the tradespeople hired to make improvements to the staff who serve visitors at hotels and eateries.
“This is infrastructure, desperately needed now, to boost resilience to future droughts and put money back in the pockets of all locals, not just farmers, who feel the pinch when it doesn’t rain.”
Far North West Joint Organisation chair and Mayor of Cobar Lilliane Brady said the $1.4 million is set to be administered by the Far North West Joint Organisation and will be met by a co-contribution of $20,000 from Cobar Shire Council.
“We will work closely with Cobar Shire Council to deliver the projects and this is another example of how Joint Organisations are working with State Government to deliver efficient and effective outcomes for people in regional towns,” Cr Brady said.
“We have not been forgotten, it has been less than 12 months since money for tourism projects in the far west was promised and now the funding is being delivered – this funding is a welcome reminder for the people of Cobar and far west NSW.
“Times are tough, but we are resilient and we want people across Australia to know we have a great tourism offering and we are still open for business.”
Work is expected to start later in 2019.