Cobar Shire Council has received significant grant funding and developed a masterplan for the upgrade of the Great Cobar Heritage Centre and it’s looking like it will be an exciting project.
The centre upgrade’s project manager Tanya Gilbert said the masterplan looks at the entire vision of the whole facility, capitalises on the unique heritage of the building and its location and maximises the space they have available.
Council has also created a 20 year repairs and maintenance plan for the building.
Mrs Gilbert said the upgrade will be completed in three stages.
“One—is the building; two—is the outdoors; and three—is the long term vision beyond the existing boundaries to integrate it into the mine, to make it more into a mine experience (Peak lease/slag dump),” she said.
Work has already commenced on Stage One of the upgrade.
“We currently have funding for the ramp (just over $90,000), the weather proofing of the building ($358,000) and the exhibition side is $1.4m total.
“It’s partially Joint Organisation (JO) funding and a small amount of ‘Stronger Communities’ funding,” Mrs Gilbert said.
Accessibility for all visitors will be greatly improved with a new access ramp and more accessible bathrooms.
Mrs Gilbert said the masterplan also involves making 100 per cent of the downstairs section of the building ‘display’ with the upstairs area to be used as offices and storage.
“This will open it up more for people with disabilities,” she said.
There will be a lot of work involved in re-locating the displays, including the Aboriginal display.
“It has real significance to the local community and we’ll have to consult with them and work with them on how to take the displays off the walls,” Mrs Gilbert said.
The popular underground mine exhibit will also be relocated as part of the upgrade.
“The underground mine under the stairs is the one non-negotiable in the project due to a fire and safety audit, it comes up as ‘high’, threat to life, it has to go,” Mrs Gilbert said.
“It’s not appropriate to do inside, we’ll recreate it. The vision is to have it as a semi underground experience, walk in one end, landscaped on the top and an exit at the other end.”
Stages Two and Three of the project will link in with the Heritage Park across the road.
“Our intention is putting in a crossing and a pedestrian traffic island.”
Mrs Gilbert said they also aim to link the museum with the big Cobar sign at the entrance to town and also to the main street.
“We want to make it visible, appealing.
“The visual side is a big part of trying to cement its place in the surrounding community,” she said.
Mrs Gilbert estimates a two year timeline for the upgrade work and she’s hoping the ramp will be in by the end of the year.