THE LEICHHARDT CENTRE
Ludwig Leichhardt travelled through what is now the Taroom District in 1844 en route from Jimbour Station to Port Essington. During his time in this district he named a number of natural features which form part of the many tourist attractions to this area. He also blazed a Coolibah tree that stands in what is now the main street of Taroom, Yaldwyn Street.
Taroom and District are fiercely proud of this tree and the many natural attractions, such as Expedition National Park, Lake Murphy, Ruined Castle and the Amphitheatre, to name just some and which were named by Leichhardt. He also named the Dawson River and Taroom township resides adjacent to this great river.
Approximately 6 years ago the then Queensland State Government embarked on a process to amalgamate a number of Local Authorities with the result the former Division 1 of the Taroom Shire Council was transitioned into the Banana Shire Council area, based in Biloela. This resulted in the Taroom Shire Chambers, a magnificent building, becoming less utilised and rather than being the shire headquarters is now used as a service centre.
The Taroom District Development Association, a local progress and promotion group came forward with the idea to renovate the previous chambers and develop it into a Centre to honour the achievements of Leichhardt. Many persons in the Taroom District are of the belief that Leichhardt has not been fully and respectfully recognised for his achievements, especially along the route from Jimbour to Port Essington.
With the knowledge and permission of the Banana Shire Council the TDDA embarked on a series of public meetings to promote the Leichhardt Centre proposal and it was extremely well supported by the Community. A more recent survey, which was very well subscribed, resulted in 92% of the respondents supporting the project and as their first preference of the seven projects listed in the survey.
The TDDA applied for a grant under the Blueprint for the Bush Program to have concept plans developed to renovate the former Taroom Shire Chambers as the Leichhardt Centre. The Association was successful in this application and commissioned Architect Brian Hooper of Yeppoon to draw up draft concept plans. This task has been completed. The plans allow for the building to be completely renovated inside and will provide for the Leichhardt Centre and to remain as a service centre for the Banana Shire Council. The building is on two levels and space is not an issue although there may be clearance issues with the "downstairs" level. The plans submitted by Mr Hooper have been distributed within the Taroom Community as well as to various Organisations including State and Federal Government Politicians and Government Representatives. The plans and proposal have been very well received. However, it must be noted they are concept plans only at this stage and may or may not reflect the actual finished product.
The Taroom Community, and indeed the Banana Shire, cannot bring this project to fruition without external assistance. Financial assistance will be required.
Further information on current developments can be found at Leichhardt Land or in the Blaze Newsletter.