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The Independent Voice of
Central West Queensland since 1923
Central West Queensland

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14 July, 2020

'Opera House of the Bush' re-invents itself

THE RE-DESIGNED first stage of the Australian Stockman’s Hall of Fame and Outback Heritage Centre has been thrown open to the public, and has been met with glowing approval by locals and visitors alike.

By Hamish Hart

By the billabong…visitors are already taking advantage of ASHOF’s newly redesigned Billabong area.

The multi-million dollar redevelopment project, funded by the Federal Government’s Community Development Grants program, began in November 2019 and was completed in May.

The first stage of the project included the re-design of the museum’s five galleries, as well as its new Outback Cinematic Experience, all of which tell the stories of Australia’s pioneering history in an innovative move for the Longreach tourist attraction.

Tony Holzner, Creative Director and co-founder of Art Processors, the company behind the revamp, likened the transformation to the ‘Sydney Opera House of the Bush’, saying that it would be exposed to a global stage thanks to this project.

“The revamped galleries use growing technology capabilities to create a bigger, bolder, seamless visitor experience and reposition the attraction as the best in the bush,” Mr Holzner said.

“This project presents an exciting opportunity for us to transform the ‘Sydney Opera House of the Bush’ into a leading global attraction, expanding its impact and matching the visitor experiences to the very best of museums and attractions around the world.”

ASHOF CEO Lloyd Mills echoed Mr Holzner’s claims, believing the project provides the perfect opportunity for the museum to reinvent itself.

“The redevelopment is best categorised as a rebirth,” Mr Mills said. “We’ve traded well over the past 30 years, adapting to consumers and their expectations, but our visitors’ needs are changing and we need to keep up with that.

“The project is about taking the opportunity to re-invent how we deliver stories in concert and how we can deliver digital approaches.

“These days people are more interested in having an experience than just turning-up and looking at objects. They want to be engaged and immersed.”

Multiple social facilities were also completed in stage one of the $15 million dollar project, including the Garraway dining facility and re-design of the Billabong area.

Located outside the museum’s Hugh Sawrey Art Gallery and Garraway café, the Billabong area is an outdoor dining section which provides visitors the opportunity to soak in the peaceful ambience of Outback Queensland.

ASHOF executive assistant, Annette McBride, said the Billabong area had been popular among tourists and encourages locals to make use of the re-designed venue now and into the future. 

“It’s been an absolute hit,” Ms McBride said. “Our Billabong area allows people to stay at the museum for a little longer, enjoy a cup of coffee and soak-up their surroundings. There has been lots of positive feedback from the tourists flowing through this week. They really, really love it.

“Stage one works were completed by contractors who employed many local people, not just from Longreach, but the wider region. These locals will continue their work over the coming months.

“This is not just a tourist destination, it’s a venue for the locals to take ownership of. It’s the perfect location for weddings, cocktail parties and all of those intimate gatherings.”

Further landscaping and upgrades to the museum and Hugh Sawrey Art Gallery will begin in October as a part of the project’s second stage.

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