Member for Wide Bay Llew O’Brien presented Creative Country Association president Richard O’Neill OAM with a certificate to commemorate the Federal Government funding … watching on are CCA secretary Kathy Dora, treasurer Glenda Geraghty with husband Leo, South Burnett Mayor Brett Otto and local councillor Kathy Duff
The next project? Glenda Geraghty and Richard O’Neill with a model of the fossil artwork planned for the Murgon water tower

June 30, 2020

Work on Murgon’s new $1.59 million Cultural Centre is planned to start within the next three months.

And the project – which will house an art gallery and fossil museum – is expected to be completed within 18 months.

Member for Wide Bay Llew O’Brien joined members of the not-for-profit association creating the project on site in Macalister Street, Murgon, on Tuesday morning.

The Creative Country Association (CCA) was formed fairly recently but the dream of a Murgon cultural centre dates back almost two decades.

The project is being funded entirely under Round 4 of the Federal Government’s Building Better Regions Fund (BBRF) program.

Mr O’Brien announced the final figure – $1,596,514 – during his visit.

CCA president Richard O’Neill OAM thanked Mr O’Brien for his help in advocating on behalf of the association.

Mr O’Brien said the project had “stood on its own merits” and was certainly worthy of being funded.

“It will be a confidence boost for Murgon. I am super excited about it. It is just what Murgon needs,” he said.

South Burnett Mayor Brett Otto also thanked Mr O’Brien for his support.

He said Murgon was the “northern gateway” to the South Burnett and the stimulus this project would provide would flow through the whole region.

“It will add a add a significant contribution to the Murgon economy and to the South Burnett economy,” Mayor Otto said.

“It will bring more tourists to our region.”

Mr O’Brien said the Cultural Centre would be a real drawcard.

“This project will create immediate benefit with jobs during the planning and construction phase,” he said.

“A project of this scale will transform Murgon. (It) is a bold, innovative project that will capitalise on Murgon’s position as a significant Australian paleontological site, and will provide ongoing tourism and economic benefit for the community and the wider South Burnett region.”

Local councillor Kathy Duff highlighted the importance of the long-awaited art gallery.

“It’s the best project we’ve had in Murgon in the whole 16 years since I’ve been elected,” Cr Duff said.

She said the lack of an art gallery had been a “huge gap” in Murgon and the project would provide an opportunity to showcase local Indigenous art.

“It’s going to enhance Murgon, enhance tourism. It’s really boosted the morale of the community,” she said.

CCA treasurer Glenda Geraghty said the Cultural Centre would not only be aimed at tourists.

“I want the fossil museum to become an educational thing to attract students to come here. Hopefully, someone will go on to become a paleontologist!” she said.

Glenda is a bit of an amateur paleontologist herself … she has accompanied visiting scientists to dig sites in the Murgon area and has recovered a crocodile tooth as well as a bird bone which is now being studied in Sydney.

The Murgon area has remarkable fossil deposits, including some of the world’s oldest songbirds and the oldest marsupial remains in Australia.

It is the only site in Australia with a range of vertebrate fossils dating from the early Paleocene 55 million years ago, a crucial time in mammalian evolution.

Dig sites are top secret to deter looters so many South Burnett people have no idea about the incredible finds that have been made in the region – something the fossil museum hopes to rectify.

The garden courtyard will be the first part of the project to be developed, as it is in the centre of the complex.

The CCA has formed sub-committees to develop the different sections: art, fossils and mental health through art.

Workshops would be held at the complex and the area would also be available for hire to the community.

It will also be able to host movie evenings and travelling art exhibitions.

Murgon Business and Development Association (MBDA) president Leo Geraghty said the community had been developing the project for 15 or 16 years.

But he’s now got another project in his sights …

The MBDA is working on getting approval for fossil-related artwork to be added to the concrete water tower on the western approach to Murgon.

Plans to paint the water tower were first floated in February last year.

However, the MBDA had since adopted a second design, prepared by a group of local artists, which will have a fossil theme to link with the Cultural Centre.

The group is now seeking approval from the South Burnett Regional Council before looking for funding to make this dream a reality, too.

The Cultural Centre will house an art gallery, fossil museum, workshop area, gift shop, kitchen and offices surrounding an open-air “prehistoric garden”

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