Rene Hidding hands Woolmers Estate final cheque

OPENING SOON: Woolmers Estate's new vistiors centre was built at a cost of $5.3 million, and will open in October. Picture: Stefan Boscia
OPENING SOON: Woolmers Estate's new vistiors centre was built at a cost of $5.3 million, and will open in October. Picture: Stefan Boscia

Infrastructure Minister Rene Hidding officially handed over the final portion of a $1.75 million grant to Woolmers Estate on Thursday.

The state member for Lyons handed over a $438,000 cheque to Woolmers Estate Chairman Peter Rae on-site at the new Woolmers visitors centre.

The new visitors centre, built at a total cost of $5.3 million, looks out onto the UNESCO World Heritage site’s rose garden, and will open in October.

“This modern centre is going to provide a contemporary gateway to some of the finest world heritage experiences in Australia,” Mr Hidding said.

“This is a magnificent addition and beautifully built. It’s tucked away in the hillside so it doesn’t detract from the original buildings.

“It will host world class travelling art exhibitions, but also community events.”

FINAL INSTALLMENT: Minister for Infrastructure Rene Hidding hands over a cheque to Woolmers Estate Chairman Peter Rae. Picture: Stefan Boscia

FINAL INSTALLMENT: Minister for Infrastructure Rene Hidding hands over a cheque to Woolmers Estate Chairman Peter Rae. Picture: Stefan Boscia

The centre is also set to display a wide range of artefacts from the estate’s colonial past.

The state government’s $1.75 million funding comes on the back of a 2015 parliamentary inquiry into built heritage tourism in Tasmania. 

The final report of the inquiry stated that the majority of Tasmania’s built heritage sites were not fulfilling their potential as tourist attractions.

The report also stated that the sites required increased government funding to help improve operations at the properties.

Mr Hidding said that the centre will help boost tourism numbers to both Woolmers Estate and adjacent Brickendon. 

“The unique nature is that the Archer family never threw anything away – it’s all still here just as though they left yesterday,” he said.

“The broader story of Tasmania is encapsulated in this exhibition with Woolmers and Brickendon.

“It is the story of free settlers, but also the convict system. Only 12 per cent of the convicts went to penal colonies such as Port Arthur, and the rest [were used] to grow the state.

“A lot of the primary income of the state is derived from the hard work of those original assigned convicts, and those people became the bedrock of Tasmanian society.

“The state government are keen to work with the Woolmers foundation to not just talk about the free settlers, and the convict system but the next story. The story of assigned labour which really built Tasmania.” 

The remainder of the $3.55 million construction bill was covered solely by Nigel Peck – the great-great-grandson of Woolmers Estate founder Thomas Archer.