Funding boost inspires historic railway’s major facelift
VISITORS to Ipswich will soon be able to enjoy a variety of new experiences following a funding boost aimed at enhancing local tourism.
Ipswich City Council this week revealed nine operators stand to benefit from up to a $10,000 injection under its annual Exceptional Experiences Program.
Among the pool of recipients is the Queensland Pioneer Steam Railway at Swanbank.
Chairman Robert Shearer said the team had opted to use the nearly $5000 in funding for the site’s biggest infrastructure overhaul in 25 years.
Renovations are set to include structural upgrades to several facilities, such as the souvenir shop, rest rooms and its platform.
“It’s the first time the building has been completely stripped down with its timber replaced and the interior returned back to its original state,” he said.
“We’re trying to make it so that, as well as being really well-presented and getting a rid of a lot of the damage, it’s more user-friendly for visitors.”
The railway is currently closed to visitors as major parts of the upgrades get underway.
“We’re extending the platform by double the length and adding a higher-level section so that it’s a bit easier a bit easier for those with mobility issues to get in the carriages.”
Mr Shearer said the improvements had come off the back of previous observations by volunteers.
“We never had a major complaint,” he said.
“It’s just been little things which have become apparent that we need, especially the more we’re engaging with people outside the Ipswich community.”
The exciting overhaul is expected to be complete by early April.
Mr Shearer said he hoped the site would re-open to the public come mid-February - dependant on how the works had progressed.
“Without what the Council has given us, we wouldn’t have been able to do this project,” he said.
“They’ve been very good to us over the last eight or so years, they’ve put a bit of support in and the benefits do eventually come back.”
Other local attractions set to receive funding include: Quest Ipswich, Queensland Raceways, Tripswich Tours, The Soul Nook Collective, The Llama Farm, Oikos cafe, Ghost Tours and Haigslea Ewe Nique Hobby Farm.
Mayor Teresa Harding said council was committed to ensuring Ipswich tourism operators continued to provide local jobs amid the COVID-19 recovery.
“Through this program, council is supporting local businesses to further develop local tourism product offerings which will in turn boost visitor numbers and expenditure in our region.
“A growing tourism industry here in Ipswich means local job creation, a significant boost to the Ipswich economy, and a range of exciting experiences for visitors from across Queensland and Australia,” said Cr Harding.