Howard monthly markets - Clinton Ross driving the No. 13 Mine loco.
Howard monthly markets - Clinton Ross driving the No. 13 Mine loco. Alistair Brightman

COMMUNITY ICON: Volunteers heartbroken as train ride shut down

THE volunteers from Howard's Burrum District Museum have been left bewildered and disheartened, with three quarters of the museum currently closed to the public due to safety concerns.

The historical buildings at the site, including a 1850s slab hut and a former mining office, along with the museum's train ride, have all be forced to close in the past few months.

Volunteer Clinton Ross said the historical buildings, which included an office used during the mining days at Burgowan, were given to the museum and moved to their current locations by Hervey Bay City Council a number of years ago.

But now representatives from the Fraser Coast Regional Council, which replaced the Hervey Bay, Maryborough, Tiaro and Woocoo councils in 2008, were telling the volunteers the buildings had not been correctly installed, Mr Ross said.

This slab hut of an estimated 100 years has pulled up stumps and left Torbanlea to be relocated at the Burrum District Museum in Howard. David Hose and his crew took on the task. Photo: VALERIE HORTON 10h1673a
This slab hut of an estimated 100 years has pulled up stumps and left Torbanlea to be relocated at the Burrum District Museum in Howard. David Hose and his crew took on the task. Photo: VALERIE HORTON 10h1673a Valerie Horton

He said there had been several visits from the council and the work needed to make the buildings functional again was estimated to cost $55,000.

"In December they made us close down those two buildings," Mr Ross said, adding that orange fencing was now blocking off any visitors to the site.

Safety concerns were also held regarding a tunnel over the train ride at the site.

Mr Ross said a council inspector came out and made some adjustments, but never mentioned that the ride might have to close.

 

He said the Queensland Rail Authority had inspected the ride and approved it.

But the council had since advised the volunteers that the ride would also have to stop.

"It's pretty much the only source of income we have," Mr Ross said.

He lives in Maryborough and travels between his home and the museum regularly.

He's passionate about the museum, but says it's hard to stay motivated when so much of it was currently off-limits.

"We're so dejected," he said.

"Three quarters of it is shut.

"We're left with no solutions."

Fraser Coast councillor James Hansen said the council wanted to work with the museum to ensure its future.

"Council is very supportive of the continued operations of the Burrum District Heritage Museum and recognises its importance to the local community in showcasing the coal mining and pioneering history of the area," he said.

"We are actively engaging with engineers and building certifiers to assist the museum to address structural and safety concerns which have been identified with the facilities" 

"Council is also providing the museum with financial assistance to cover the costs of further engineering and building reports, which will outline the works required to bring the facilities up to a safe and compliant standard for the public to enjoy."