Oasis in the desert
The Echidna Place precinct in the town of Thargomindah is now a contemporary, well-frequented space, but the complex had very different beginnings.
The town of Thargomindah is located along the Adventure Way in the Bulloo Shire in far southwest Queensland, and lies on the banks of the Bulloo River about 1000kms west of Brisbane.
The Thargomindah Visitor Information Centre (VIC) is situated at Echidna Place on Dowling Street, alongside a library, an art gallery/meeting room and a coffee shop.
The centre has a big deck where visitors can sit and enjoy a coffee and cake, or a meal and a chat with the locals; it’s becoming renowned as a place to relax and unwind after a long journey through the outback.
For many years, however, the building had fallen into disrepair.
The original building was purpose built by the Bulloo Shire Council in 1963 for the Queensland Country Women’s Association for use as a QCWA hostel to house children from outlying Stations, so that they could attend school.
The hostel remained in use until the 1980s when it was closed, because it was no longer a viable proposition.
With modern technology and better transport, fewer people were required to live and work on Cattle and Sheep Stations, resulting in dwindling school numbers.
The hostel was abandoned and remained derelict until 2012 when Council saw an opportunity to convert the old building into a modern facility that would accommodate a VIC, library, coffee shop and the Kullilli Room, which could serve as either an art gallery or meeting room, or both at the same time.
Council put out a Tender to obtain Architectural Concept Drawings, which would convert the old hostel into a modern, state of the art facility that would serve both tourists and the community.
Chris Woodland from Statewide Drafting was awarded the contract to build the new Centre, and work commenced in late 2012, with the Centre being completed on 30 July 2013.
The Echidna Place complex was officially opened by the Hon David Crisafulli MP, then Minister for Local Government, Community Recovery and Resilience, on 31 July 2013.
A number of dignitaries and officials, as well as Council staff, children from the Thargomindah State School, and members of the local community attended the opening ceremony.
The VIC and library is now very well patronised by both visitors and the local community, and the Kullilli Room has hosted many art exhibitions, meetings, and workshops.
The Over 40’s and Fabulous Group can often be found in the VIC working on their latest craft project, or sometimes gravitating to the Kullilli Room.
Echidna Place has already established its own character and identity, and has become a very warm and friendly meeting place for the community and visitors to get together for a coffee and a chat, or to meet up with family and friends.
The Bulloo Shire is proud of their achievement in creating a wonderful precinct that is a hub for tourists and locals, and in providing an economic boost to the local economy.
Visitors have commented that they find the environment very friendly and inviting, and they are spreading the word that Echidna Place is the place to be seen when visiting Thargo.