Weaving a new cultural focus for woolshed
THERE'S no doubt that resignation of the entire volunteer board of the Jondaryan Woolshed in late November raised some eyebrows.
But while there is unlikely to ever be agreement as to whether the board was given "enough" council funding for its proposals to take the woolshed forward, there's no doubt that what is needed now is volunteers to keep the not-for-profit venue running, developing and, in time, volunteers to form a new board.
Accepting the resignations, Mayor Paul Antonio expressed thanks for the outgoing board's "dedication and commitment over many years to the expansion and betterment of one of the region's most significant tourism and historical facilities".
The mayor was clear no pre-booked functions would be affected by the change, which will see an interim board take over planning direction and development for up to 12 months, chaired by TRC Finance and Business Strategy Committee chair Cr Mike Williams, with Environment and Community Services Committee chair Cr Geoff McDonald as a director.
Cr Williams told Seniors Newspaper that council had been "more than generous with its funding" to the woolshed but, at the end of the day, it was "hundreds of thousands of dollars of community money" which was paying to keep it afloat.
Council sees the woolshed as having enormous tourism potential and its goal was always that the heritage-listed facility would become self-sustaining, minimising its cost to council.
The aim for the future, Cr Williams said, was to "reposition" the Jondaryan Woolshed to retain the function side of the business and "grow" the cultural side to make it "a very popular tourist attraction for the region".
"This is an opportunity to review the business model that will allow us to maintain and plan the development of this unique attraction, which is the largest and oldest operating woolshed of its kind in the Southern Hemisphere, for future generations to visit," he said.
Staff and volunteers provide historical knowledge at the working museum and are vital to the daily operations at the woolshed, which dates back 150 years.
However, Cr Williams encouraged more people to join a "reinvigorated" volunteer pool, with large numbers of jobs to be done, including upkeep of the building and machinery, work in the gardens, right through to driving wagons and helping at events.
The hope is to shake things up and increase the woolshed's community focus by bringing like-minded people together to harness their love of history as well as various trade and craft skills.
In coming months, Council will also call for nominations for people to serve on a new board.
"Ideally, we will be seeking people from the surrounding district who have a keen interest in promoting our rural heritage, along with the relevant business skills to ensure the Jondaryan Woolshed has a strong and viable future," Cr Williams said.