Centre for Rural Heritage

Wherever one travels throughout SA there is a very significant part of rural history that is fading away into oblivion, or is falling down. 

This idea steps into an area that little, if anything, is being done to save former built heritage. There are abundant rural employment and income opportunities.

The concept for “the property” is to become a hub for bookings (see discussion below), and become a centre for heritage trail infrastructure revival.  

  • Identify farm-house ruins and old church buildings of past years, examine their suitability to be restored to a habitable condition, use them in a network of overnight rest stops for long-term travellers or for farm-stay accommodation. Here’s an illustration - many years ago (nearly 13 years ago) I was commissioned by the then Mid North Regional Development Board to conduct a farm-stay accommodation investigation. A report was prepared and included about 12 properties from near Saddleworth up to north of Jamestown. The report was “cob-webbed” because imagination and the will to be different were not there to support it. Given the existence of many derelict farm buildings of yesteryear, there is still un-realised potential to give them a new life and add to farm income. RDA (MN&Y) could play a role in terms of marketing assessment and tourism potential.

  • The region contains a network of defunct railway reserves and road reserves. Sections of Mawson Trail (the bikeway) do not seem to be used much today and are poorly signposted (I know, I’ve ridden sections of it). The trail needs a big “facelift”; it needs hut accommodation for overnight stays, it needs tree planting in strategic areas, it could do with a number of interconnecting links that allow riders to get off it and explore other areas - and for this to happen there has to be a reason to divert, and there has to be low-cost accommodation. Hence, “the property” could become one of those connectors, as could a number of others. “The property” could also become the hub for the cycling traveller. (In my view, Clare has not taken full advantage of the cycling interest arising from the Tour Down Under). During our travels through WA there were many European cyclists (we spoke to them) who think nothing of riding 1000km or more during a few weeks holiday. I rode a number of the rail trails in WA. 

The idea then, is to use the extensive network of heritage railway corridors in the 
wider region to create a regional network of bike trails for the international tourist. Maybe local and interstate riders will use the trails also. What about the condition of those old railway buildings? 

       The sad plight of Merildin Railway Station … a decaying and forgotten asset.

The farm-stay network could link to a bike network. Imagine the possibilities.

  • Income potential - booking fees for farm-stay houses, on-site accommodation fees, collection of honesty box fees from trail huts

The Next Idea … On-site accommodation

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