The 30th anniversary of one of regional Queensland’s most iconic building and design marvels represented a full circle moment for one of Australia’s oldest construction companies.
The anniversary celebration for the facility – often referred to as the ‘Opera House of the Outback’ –was attended by many including Woollam Constructions director George Bogiatzis, who worked as a tendering cadet during the original construction in 1988.
Opened that same year by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, Bogiatzis says, “As a 22-year-old tendering cadet at the time, this was the largest project I had worked on and at such a young age, it was an honour to contribute to the conservation and celebration of Australia’s heritage.”
“The structure has stood the test of time both design and construction-wise, featuring castellated beams, corrugated iron, a curved roof as well as sandstone and tiles from Toowoomba,” he says.
“The museum was designed to look like a large barn from a distance. It’s a very open building with a lot of timber on the ceiling which was quite difficult to secure.”
Many famous Australians were involved in establishing the Australian Stockman’s Hall of Fame including artist Hugh Sawrey and entrepreneur R.M. Williams and it pays tribute to Indigenous Australians, stock workers, pastoralists and explorers.
Stockman’s Hall features a museum, gallery, entertainment facility, theatre and historical library and was formed after a need to capture and record the fast disappearing culture and unique history of Australia’s outback and major industries like grazing, agriculture, forestry and mining.
Metal deck roofing and a suspended gutter system were incorporated into the design to ensure that noise caused by rain is heard by patrons and water is seen as it is collected from the building.
In terms of challenges, Bogiatzis says that there were “no computers or emails in those times – just good old fashion phone calls and Australia Post, while the heat in summer was “unbearable at 40 - 48 degrees and not to mention the millions of flies that would stick to your back or face.”
For the 30th anniversary, some 10,000 people turned up – “almost twice the population of Longreach – which was remarkable,” says Bogiatzis.