Fossil enthusiast’s dreams come true with $1.59M project
EVER since she was a little girl, Glenda Geraghty - better known to Murgon residents as Bob - has been fascinated by the world of fossils and dinosaurs.
Now she and the rest of the South Burnett community will be able to enjoy and explore a love of art and fossils inside the $1.59 million cultural centre thanks to the Morrison Government's Building Better Regions Fund for local projects.
"I wanted to be a palaeontologist as a young girl, I have no idea where the passion came from but I've always loved animals and history and nature documentaries," she said.
"When I was going through school, young women learnt typing and receptionist skills, not about how to excavate a dig site.
"So after leaving Murgon State High School I started out at Jack Haynes Real Estate in Kingaroy doing their book work, but I've always been a Murgon girl and I couldn't be more excited that our little town is going to have this incredible space for people to come and appreciate fossils and the arts all under one roof."
Last Friday, Mrs Geraghty and the rest of the Creative Country Association Inc. got the shock of a lifetime when they discovered their dream of 13 years would soon become a reality.
"I was actually down with a migraine that morning, but Leo said 'it's time to get up, we've got some exciting news' I never thought our two years of applications and paper work would result in this wonderful news," Ms Geraghty said.
"It's still hard to believe."
Internationally renowned artist Lee Porter said she first went to Councillor Kathy Duff with the idea for a cultural centre 12 years ago and said she was over the moon with the funding announcement from Federal Member for Wide Bay, Llew O'Brien.
"Not many people know this, but Murgon is one of the most significant fossil sites in the world," she said.
The Murgon fossil site is the only site on the continent with a diverse range of vertebrate fossils dating from the early Palaeogene Period (55 million years ago, only 10 million years after the extinction of the dinosaurs) making it a crucial period in mammal evolution.
Thus site is also important as it demonstrates Australia's Gondwanan links with South America in the form of similar fossils from the two continents.
The cultural centre will also be a highly beneficial space for local, national and international art to be on display for South Burnett residents and tourists alike.
"We're planning to have a professional art gallery, movie theatre space and an art therapy workshop space and a kitchen, office and gift shop inside the building as well as a prehistoric garden in the middle," Ms Porter said.
"There's also going to be a fossil museum housing some replicas of original fossils discovered right here in Murgon.
"They will be copied from the originals housed at the University of New South Wales and the Queensland Museum."
Morrison Government's Building Better Regions Fund
Federal Member for Wide Bay Llew O'Brien announced the funding approval last week to the delight of the Murgon Creative Country Association team.
"These projects will help Wide Bay communities build on their recovery from COVID-19 to become even more resilient, vibrant places to live and work," Mr O'Brien said.
"The projects will drive economic growth and create and sustain local jobs at a time when we need them most, through new construction and creating new opportunities and events to boost domestic tourism."
Mr O'Brien congratulated the following organisations on their successful applications:
•$60,000 for Noosa Council to assist with the program for the Noosa Alive 2021 festival.
•$1,596,514 for the Country Creative Association to construct a purpose-built cultural centre in Murgon, comprising of an art gallery, fossil museum, art workshop, gift shop, and central prehistoric garden.
•$42,539 for Sunshine Butterflies to construct a multipurpose training room and pick up/drop off shelter at the 'Our Backyard' disability support facility in Cooroibah.
•$20,000 to upgrade the 30-year-old toilets and showers at the Cooroy Badminton Club Hall.
•$140,000 to construct a new educational and activity centre at Hope Reins in Gympie.
"I look forward to meeting with each of the groups as soon as possible after parliament in Canberra finishes at the end of the fortnight," Mr O'Brien said.
"Communities in Wide Bay are continuing to show amazing spirit and strength through these tough times caused by the ongoing drought and the COVID-19 pandemic, and I am delighted to see this latest round of BBRF will provide much-needed support at such a crucial time.
"These projects will help transform communities and ensure Wide Bay remains strong, resilient and prosperous in the long term, and I look forward to seeing these important projects boost economic prosperity, create jobs and new opportunities in our region."
BBRF projects strengthen local economies and drive local procurement, delivering career pathways, encouraging people to stay and come back to the communities they grew up in.
The Australian Government is continuing its longstanding commitment to regional Australia through BBRF making vital local projects a reality, driving economic development and creating stronger partnerships across our regional communities.
When will building get underway?
According to the Creative Country Association Inc. building is due to begin on the Murgon Cultural Centre as soon as the funding is received from the government.
"We will be using a majority of local trades people and local businesses for as much of this project as possible," Mrs Geraghty said.
Building is currently predicted to begin before the end of the year with the aim for the cultural centre to be completed by mid 2021.
"It will provide education and enjoyment for generations to come," Ms Porter said.
"I can't wait to see it come to life after all these years."