All aboard for Cunnamulla's most ambitious project yet
THE once-decrepit train station in Cunnamulla is inching closer to revival, thanks to the Paroo Progress Association, but there is still a long road ahead to fully transform the building in to a tourist attraction, intended to tell the story of how the bush community was forever changed by the advent of the railway.
The group has worked tirelessly on Cunnamulla All Aboard, restoring the train station and designing the exhibition, but now they are trying to pull off an even more challenging feat: raising the money finish the job.
"We need to raise $60,000," said Karen Ticehurst of the Paroo Progress Association.
"We have two large grants thanks to government funding, both state and federal, but need to raise some for ourselves to meet the state's contribution.
"In kind, the Progress Association has probably put in about $50,000, plus another $40,000 in cash, but we are still in need of another $60,000 to help with the contributions to meet the state."
On top of the , the PPA has set a tight schedule to raise the funds.
"It is all underway, but we need to start on the build soon, which will require a surveyor and an architect to put together their plans and the costings, but once that is all done we should be able to kick off with the build in July, hopefully."
Despite the mammoth task ahead, Ms Ticehurst is positive the community will rally behind local advancement.
"I think we will get a lot of local support, and from people who have lived in Cunnamulla but have moved away - there is already a lot of support coming from them," she said.
"But also, we are looking to railway interest groups for support, and people who want to see the old railway stations be maintained and continuing to move forward."
Should the PPA reach its goal, the station is set to become the sight of a nightly visual spectacular, telling true stories of a town which thrived in the era of the railway.
"It is going to be a sound and light show, which will run for about forty minutes, depicting how the railway impacted the outback, particularly in Cunnamulla and the Paroo Shire," Ms Ticehurst said.
"Everyone has a story about the railway in Cunnamulla; everyone has been on the railway.
"Some have put wool on there to get it away, a lot of school kids used to go on the railway all the time and there are lots of good stories about that, footballers and netballers used to always travel to Charleville and Quilpie on the railway and it was a big event.
"We have already gotten someone on board for the interpretation side of the sound and light show. They are well underway and have interviewed a heap of people in Cunnamulla, and are now putting together the stories, and will do some filming, some more interviews, and use actors and other mediums to tell the story."
The show is slated to be an evening attraction by design, and the reason for it is pertnient. The main goal of Cunnamulla All Aboard is to keep tourists (and their tourist dollars) in town for longer.
"The main reason we have come together is to try and have visitors stay in Cunnamulla for one more night," Ms Ticehurst said.
"The more people who stay overnight, the more money that is spent in town, and the more jobs that are created.
"(Paroo Progress Association) had thought about how we could use the railway to do this, because a lot of people were visiting it during the day, but they weren't actually staying the night to attend any ticketed events in Cunnamulla.
"In Charleville, they have the Cosmos Centre which keeps a lot of people there for one or two nights, but here, we just don't have anything that really will keep people in town for that extra time.
"We have the information centre, which is fantastic, and hope to have the riverwalk done by next year, but unless we can do something at those places in the evening, it won't keep people overnight.
"If there are another, say, 60-80 people staying in town every night, it means they need to be fed and need to stay somewhere, which just value-adds to everyone's businesses."