TIME FOR A CHANGE? $5 million could go towards relocating the Warwick Visitor Information Centre, just three years after it moved to Warwick Town Hall.
TIME FOR A CHANGE? $5 million could go towards relocating the Warwick Visitor Information Centre, just three years after it moved to Warwick Town Hall.

$16M proposal to build gardens, galleries and more

AS domestic tourism booms across the country, the Southern Downs could benefit from a $25 million state government infrastructure fund.

The Growing Tourism Infrastructure Fund aims to fast-track the development of new, or enhanced, tourism projects with the hope of strengthening the local industry in the wake of the coronavirus.

During a meeting of the Southern Downs Regional Council, councillors voted to put forward a series of projects for consideration.

The projects must be “shovel-ready”, priced between $500,000 and $5 million and, if chosen, completed by June 30 2022.

The first was the development of Stanthorpe Botanical Gardens, priced at the maximum $5 million, and to be completed in stages.

Key proponents Jim Wilkinson and Helen Gibson put forward a “visionary” proposal to council in January 2019, stating the gardens should be a “world-class facility” or not exist at all.

The idea was further supported by the Granite Belt during community consultations with council this year, as seen in the recently developed Granite Belt Strategic Plan.

The second proposal, priced at $500,000, would deliver a public wi-fi network to Ballandean, Killarney, Stanthorpe and Warwick.

The use of free Wi-Fi for tourists is a common initiative seen across the globe, and recently advocated by the LNP as a “smart way to share the word that Queensland is a great place to visit”.

The council also proposed the relocation of the Warwick Visitor Information Centre for $5 million, after moving into the Warwick Town Hall just three years ago.

At the time, former Southern Downs Mayor Tracy Dobie said the VIC’s location was key to highlighting the heritage of the Town Hall building.

In the years since the relocation, however, the location has come under increasing scrutiny, as residents say it’s difficult to navigate.

A further $5 million was proposed to upgrade the Stanthorpe Art Gallery, despite Southern Downs Mayor Vic Pennisi objecting to the project last August.

At the time, the then-councillor questioned whether the region’s declining population could afford to maintain new infrastructure.

The final suggestion was for additional shade in Weeroona Park, near to the band shell, for $500,000.

Cr Pennisi advised the endorsement of the projects did not mean any would necessarily get the green light.

“It doesn’t mean we’ll get them all, it doesn’t mean we’ll get any of them,” he said.



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