Council gives new cultural centre the go-ahead
FLAGSTAFF Hill is one step closer to becoming the home to Bowen's new Conference and Cultural Centre, with a $3 million construction tender for the project awarded by the Whitsundays Regional Council yesterday.
The tender was awarded to Beep Beep Pty Ltd, trading as Richardson's Building Service.
The long-awaited development will be used by the Girudala Community Cooperative Society to promote indigenous tourism activities.
Previously, Girudala Community Cooperative Society operated the 360 On Flagstaff Cafe, which was devastated in Cyclone Debbie.
Whitsunday Regional Council Mayor Andrew Willcox said the project offered a wide range of opportunities and the new building would be bigger and more functional than the previous one.
Cr Willcox said he was looking forward to working with the Girudala Community Cooperative Society to bring the project to fruition.
"I think it's fantastic, it is a really good project for Bowen," he said.
"I'm looking forward to working with the Girudala Co-op to provide some indigenous tourism, tapping into the bush tucker trail that's already around Flagstaff Hill.
"I think this can be the catalyst to start luring some of the cruise ship passengers that dock in Airlie Beach.
"We can offer something different to them. We are very keen on promoting indigenous experiences, after all we have the oldest culture on the planet and tourists are very interested in that."
Flagstaff Hill overlooks the township of Bowen with panoramic views of the Coral Sea, the town and further afield, with Cr Willcox saying the area had "the most magnificent views of anywhere".
The larger size of this building will provide the Whitsunday Regional Council and the Girudala Community Cooperative Society with a more multi-purpose building, with Cr Willcox saying they had plans to offer unique cultural experiences, as well as use as a community function centre.
"This provides an opportunity for a cafe as well as a function centre where we can hold weddings, specific functions and the hall will be able to be hired out for the community," he said.
"This building will be more functional than the previous building, with a wide range of uses.
"It has taken some time as we had to purchase some more land, this building will be significantly bigger than the last one."
With the perfect location, Cr Willcox hopes the Conference and Cultural Centre will offer tourists something that isn't available elsewhere in the region while also supporting the local community.
"It's an opportunity to showcase some of our locally grown produce, after all we are the winter food bowl of the nation," he said.
"We also have a significant South Sea Islander population in Bowen and I think they should be showcased as well.
"What I see happening is that buses will be able to come up and have a cup of coffee in the cafe and be able to have some cultural experiences like dances, performances, some traditional basket weaving, didgeridoos and everything in between."
There are no official timelines for completion just yet, however Cr Willcox was hopeful that the project would be complete by the end of 2020.
"Subject to conditions, I'd like to see the project well and truly completed by Christmas," he said.