One of the most tragic things about living in rural areas is seeing the decay of our beautiful architectural fabric. Unlike the big cities where there is frequently financial investment in historic buildings of significance, rural people do not possess, generally, the type of wealth required to save iconic landmarks (especially as many of today's wealthy rural landholders etc are absentee owners and not involved in the local communities....but that is another issue altogether....) And unfortunately, it must be said, Rural Development Australia and Rural Development Victoria actually provide little or no assistance to the smaller communities seeking to progress themselves entrepreneurialy or protect their heritage in this manner......the restrictions placed on grant applications make funding available only to the larger provincial centers (think Bendigo or Ballarat), or at a push, Councils with much more vision to invest that many of the poorer Councils in remote areas.
As such, the result is often communities that give up in despair and resignation. Here is one such sad example (and I usually avoid taking a negative tone on my blog if possible, but this is one of those occasions when my ire has been aroused.)
The Koondrook Hall. A beautiful, Heritage Listed building that has grown increasingly unsound to the point where it has been condemned. Look at these pictures......isnt it beautiful? And right opposite the Murray River in a most idealistic spot too !!! Why did the local council not purchase this building, obtain funding for it's restoration (because according to RDA or RDV the Council are the only ones who can!!! Grrrrr), and then put it to an excellent use.....maybe town halls are not as much in demand these days - but what about renting it out to the community to have a local produce/artisan/gallery/community workshop space with great coffee? What about a restaurant? What about a library? What about an art studio? What about a media space with wi fi? A bean bag cinema? What about an info center? Canoe and pushbike hire centre? Need I go on?????????
I dont know about you, but if I had money to spare, I would buy this place, restore it (even if that ment replicating instead of restoring) and put it to great use in a community that is crying out for all of the above....the potential is enormous, and the lack of vision pathetic. Knocking this stunning old landmark down to be replaced by plastic display boards showing what once stood there is a ludicrous and completely unprogressive step.........but maybe, it is the only option left when governments seek only to appear to help rural communities (with lackluster gestures and inaccessible funding), instead of actually assisting them in practical terms on the ground.
There is, however, still time, if anyone would like to make an offer on this beautiful old gal with the purpose of restoration/replication (it is heritage listed after all), I am sure it would be seriously considered. If so, contact me via this blog........