December 17, 2019
Kilkivan’s long-awaited $2.06 million undercover equestrian centre was officially opened on Saturday at Kilkivan Showgrounds.
Local Government Minister Stirling Hinchliffe and Gympie Mayor Mick Curran performed the ceremony as part of a tour through the region by the Minister.
A small crowd gathered to watch the ceremony and then enjoy the first event, a barrel-racing competition featuring local riders.
Mr Hinchliffe said the equestrian centre was made possible through a State Government allocation of $1.075 million from the 2017-19 Local Government Grants and Subsidies Program (LGGSP).
Gympie Regional Council covered the rest of the cost.
“The centre will serve the community for years, and the work on it created or supported almost 20 jobs,” Mr Hinchliffe said.
“It’s exactly the type of project the LGGSP helps councils deliver.”
After the barrel racing, another small ceremony was held to officially name the main building within the complex as the “Vern Berry Building”.
Local councillor Hilary Smerdon lobbied for the name to recognise a well-known Kilkivan volunteer who died unexpectedly after a short illness earlier this year at the age of 60.
Cr Smerdon said Vern had spent most of his life in the area and was “a very committed, community-minded man”.
“Without his support a lot of the local community organisations would have folded,” Cr Smerdon said.
“He was involved in nearly every committee at the showgrounds over the years, and always went above and beyond what was expected.”
Cr Smerdon was asked to gather letters of support from the community for the proposal, and when these were presented, Council voted to adopt the name.
“He was a man who was the epitome of community spirit and who is sorely missed by the Kilkivan community,” Cr Smerdon said.
“Rest in peace, mate, you were a top bloke.”
Construction of the Equestrian Centre began in April this year, and it was originally due to be opened in September in conjunction with this year’s Kilkivan Great Horse Ride.
Cr Smerdon told southburnett.com.au he was happy the centre was now open and named, but it still needed “finishing off”.
He said yards, seating, a canteen and bar were really needed to complete the complex.