How the Thargomindah Airport Terminal & Bulloo River Walk are bringing in the tourists and growing a community.
By Gillian Strong, Visitor Information Centre Coordinator, Thargomindah
Nestled in the Cameron Corner (the point where New South Wales, Queensland and South Australia meet) is the Shire of Bulloo. The area is named after the Bulloo River which rises in the Gowan Ranges south of Blackall, runs south-west through the shire and ends at the Bulloo Lakes at the New South Wales border. Back in 1860, the Burke & Wills epic expedition through far South West Queensland helped to pave the way for settlement in the area.
The administrative centre of Bulloo Shire, the town of Thargomindah, was the first town in Australia and the third in the world to produce hydro-electric power for street lighting by using the water pressure from the Artesian Basin. Today, the Shire of Bulloo has a population of just over 350 and its major industries include wool, beef, opals, oil and natural gas.
It’s these industries and the great outback appeal of the Shire; the deserts, gibber and flood plains, that are bringing in the tourists and building tourism as another pillar in Bulloo’s economic foundation.
Central to building Bulloo’s economic diversity is increasing tourist numbers; a goal which relies heavily on improving Bulloo’s connectivity through reducing travel time to the area. The opportunity to realise this came in the form of funding made available through the Building Our Regions Program in 2016. Following a successful grant application, the construction of an airport began soon after; an exciting and important step to making Bulloo a great place to live and visit.
The design approach to the new airport was key; a modern, striking and practical airport was identified as the first, most important element in the upgrade. Creating a ‘WOW’ factor was also important to us; that feeling of excitement and adventure when people first fly in to Thargomindah is what sparks the next conversation between family and friends and leaves a lasting impression on all who visit.
Although modern in design, both the exterior and interior colour palettes were chosen for their connection to the colours of the outback. Visually, we wanted to let people know that when they fly into town - they have entered the real outback.
Foward thinking was also incorporated into the design to ensure the terminal has the infrastructure, technology and capacity built into it to allow for an increase in flights and passengers. This included an additional security screening area and separate arrival and departure lounges with ample space for future growth.
The new terminal has wide reaching benefits for our community. The airport is our lifeline to emergency services like the Royal Flying Doctor Service and many other specialist and allied health providers, once again proving that connectivity is vital to remote communities.
Business operators also utilise the aerodrome facilities to fly in staff, parts and equipment as part of their local operations in Thargomindah. Without this important service, the cost of time for tradies waiting on parts can quickly blow a tight budget; transport costs are one of the biggest inhibiting factors in the construction and upgrade of new and existing infrastructure in remote areas.
Bulloo Shire Council is committed to growing the community through the development of new infrastructure which makes our towns people-friendly places in the harsh outback and attracts more families to our region. In this vein, the construction of a new river walk which winds along the banks of the Bulloo River has also been developed, giving residents more options to access open spaces and outdoor recreational activities. Solar lighting has also been installed along the path making it a purposeful asset in the hotter months when it can be utilised after dark in the cooler hours.
The path starts at our caravan park and includes the development of the ‘Pelican Point’ area along the Bulloo River through the creation of a park area with park tables and benches, barbecues and ample river bank space.
The Riverwalk and newly developed Pelican Point area is already proving to be a recreational favourite for community members and tourists. Young families and keen exercise enthusiasts use the path for bike riding, skating, skate boarding, running and walking. The river spanning the Pelican Point area, which is often used for various water activities, is now more comfortable and aesthetically pleasing.
The second stage of the Riverwalk saw it extended from Pelican Point along the river, crossing the main town bridge and finishing at the ‘Old Hospital’. The walk is now in the third and final stages of creating a ‘loop’ of the town that encompasses natural and geographical environments, man-made structures and historical points of interest, linking to a new heritage village, main street and historic hydro-electric plant.
We are committed to improving the standard of everything we do in the Shire and the feeling of pride associated with this new infrastructure has spread throughout the community. The airport and the Bulloo river walk are a reflection of the standard of infrastructure the outback is both striving for and achieving out here in the west and the increase in morale and enjoyment in the community is priceless.
Local Government Association of Queensland
LG House, 25 Evelyn Street, Newstead Qld 4006
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