Bilbies moving in to Railway
THE new bilby centre is almost finished, with just one more sleep before the soft opening.
It’s been a long and difficult journey for the fund, which spent all of last year wading through bureaucracy at Queensland Rail to get access to the old disused parcel room at the heritage listed building.
Bilby keeper Alys Haines said the new building will be “100% better”.
“Actually 300%,” she corrected herself “because we can do three more shows than before (due to the additional capacity).
“We can choose our times, so we can do a 5:00 show, they can go to dinner and then to the Cosmos.
“So they don’t have to make (difficult) choices.”
The fund had previously held shows in a puny board room at the Department of National Parks building on Parks Street for over ten years.
They had to unpack the whole show and repack it every night. It could only fit around 30 people, so they often had to do two or three shows a night. The new centre can hold 100, all at once.
It’s also much easier to find, and much more central.
According to fund CEO Kevin Bradley, they’ve long been over-subscribed, with a lot more interest than they could cater for.
The new centre features a dark room that tourists can be shown into. Bilbies are nocturnal, so it’s best to see them at night - or in pseudo-night.
And the fund has all sorts of plans for the new space; interactive exhibits, touch screens and shows over the internet.
Not to mention a gift shop, of course.
It’s been a tough construction project, largely taking place at the height of summer’s crushing heat. It was a bit of a rush to get the new digs ready for tourism season.
“We’ve hired local contractors and work for the dole (workers),” said Alys.
“A couple of people from the community volunteered to help out, as well.”
That included lawyer Laurie Parker and former Mayor Denis Cook.
But the most dedicated worker was definitely Colin Marr.
The new rooms will be open to the local community for the next couple of weeks free of charge – from Monday.
Murweh Shire also intends to install a visitor information centre in another part of the building. Railway staff will continue to work from elsewhere, when needed.