While Queensland’s coastline is typically the attraction for tourists, outback Queensland has become a spot on the map due to a series of tourist attractions that have made major differences to the local economies of Barcaldine, Longreach and Winton. The building’s carry cultural significance within the townships, and have ensured the townships sit high on the list of potential destinations for travellers.
m3architecture has built a strong relationship with the township of Barcaldine, some 12 hours north-west of Brisbane. The relationship has delivered the Barcaldine Tree of Knowledge Memorial and the restoration of the Globe Hotel, which has been repurposed as a community cultural precinct.
m3architecture Director, Michael Lavery, says the courage and leadership displayed by Barcaldine Regional Council has borne fruit for the community, with the projects delivering a 300% increase in visitors spending money in the town.
''The Barcaldine Regional Council has demonstrated courage and leadership by investing in design. 'Whilst working on the Tree of Knowledge, we saw the potential to encourage passing tourists to spend more time in town," he says.
"The investment upfront to develop a master plan can divide opinions because it takes time to pay dividends, however Barcaldine is a great example of how strategic design can deliver long-term economic benefits."
The Australian Stockman’s Hall of Fame and Outback Heritage Centre in Longreach was affectionately dubbed the 'Opera House of the Outback' when it opened in 1988, due to its distinctive curved form by Feiko Bouman Architect. In need of a facelift, m3architecture and Brian Hooper Architect have delivered a transformative redesign that has reinstated the museum as a top-ranking tourist destination.
The design team rethought the museum from the inside out. Information, ticketing, retail, food and entry to the attractions were united in a light-filled entry hub and connected to new external landscaping. The new spatial arrangement has increased efficiency, reducing staff numbers whilst allowing visitors to see what's on offer, linger longer, and importantly, open their wallets.
The benefit to the museum has been immediate. Projected income for April 2021 was exceeded by 300%, and with reduced staff levels. The architectural team's contribution went well beyond built form, outlines Lavery.
"We oversaw funding applications, commissioned and managed curatorial and exhibition services and filmmakers, and worked with the client and the team to diversify the European, male-dominated, narrative of 'The Stockman'."
Another Longreach design drawcard is the Qantas Founders Museum Airpark Roof. Adjacent to the existing Qantas Museum and 1922 heritage hangar, Airpark Roof by Noel Robinson Architects is a dramatic, 8,000 sqm floating structure that houses several historic aircraft, including a Boeing 747. Visitors can explore the aircraft up close from viewing platforms.
An hour from Longreach, Winton, population 945, plays host to two awarded architectural works by national practice COX, which together have helped stabilise the town's fragile economy.
COX's relationship with Winton started in 2012 with the Australian Age of Dinosaurs Museum, located 24km south-east of the town and completed pro-bono over several years. Sitting atop a remote mesa, the museum provides visitors with an insight into one of the world’s most significant and cohesive dinosaur fossil collections, which local farmer-turned-palaeontologist John Elliot stumbled upon in 1999.
The museum is now one of Winton’s largest employers during the winter months. Visitation has increased by an average of 18 percent a year since opening and with new stages of the Dinosaur Museum currently under construction, the benefits to the local economy will continue to grow.
COX was also engaged to rebuild the Waltzing Matilda Centre, which had burnt to the ground in 2015. The only museum in the world dedicated to a song, it houses an extensive collection of historical artefacts, memorabilia and collateral related to Banjo Paterson's iconic 1895 ballad.
For Queensland's Central West, investment in quality design has delivered on the adage that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. With strategically planned and beautifully executed design across four connected towns, the reward for visitors and locals alike is exponential. Increased amenity attracts not just more people, but new events that support local employment and businesses and create opportunities for further investment.
Providing even the smallest of communities with the highest quality design bestows respect on people and their stories, and on the places they call home. Preserving and enhancing local identity, culture and pride is perhaps the most valuable design outcome of all.