Portside 2

Rocks vision for Portside gateway

Entertainment and heritage will combine to ensure Maryborough’s historic Portside Precinct in Wharf Street continues to attract visitors to the city, according to Fraser Coast Councillor George Seymour.

“The heritage buildings and streetscapes of the precinct make a fundamental contribution to Maryborough’s image and character as well as its cultural heritage.

“Council is working with businesses within the precinct to develop it as a tourism attraction similar to The Rocks in Sydney, Richmond in Tasmania, Sovereign Hill in Ballarat and Flagstaff Hill in Warrnambool.”

In the late 1800s the area was the second most important port on the east coast after Sydney and provided a gateway for 22,000 immigrants to enter Australia.

The precinct was identified as a potential tourist attraction in The Maryborough Conservation and Tourism Study 1989 which indicated that if properly developed, “it would provide a memorable heritage experience offering entertainment and education with the potential to draw 200,000 – 250,000 visitors in the first year of operation; generating up to $1.5 million for the city.’

Since then the council has invested in footpath widening, street tree planting, installing street furniture and undergrounding electricity and other services.

The council also bought the Bond Store and developed museum displays in 1992 and the Customs House and Customs Residence in 1999.

In 2001 the council adopted the Reddacliff Report to drive economic growth which recommended catalyst projects for the Portside Precinct.

These included:

  • Development of Customs House Interpretive Centre displays;
  • Establishment of the Mary River Parklands (pictured);
  • Installation of public art and outdoor interpretive signage throughout the precinct;
  • Development and implementation of Portside Precinct brand and marketing strategy;
  • Enhancement  of the Bond Store Museum displays to include a basement sound and light show; and
  • Completion of Portside Passage and Gatakers Artspace project in 2010.

“Now that the groundwork has been done we need to bring together all of the elements and step up to the next level to make the precinct a tourist attraction,” Cr Seymour said.

Of the 754,000 visitors to the region in 2011/12, about 6000 visited the precinct.

“By integrating all of the venues together we can create something that will give people a reason to visit which will improve business viability for the precinct and the city.

“It will be marketed as the Portside Heritage Gateway and the admission price will include entrance into the Customs House Interpretive Centre, Bond Store Museum and Maryborough Military and Colonial Museum, as well as access to visitor services, tours, demonstrations, and retail and dining experiences.”

The objectives are to:

Increase tourism visitation and expenditure by 300 per cent by June 2014.

  • Improve visitor experience by providing an attraction that meets the market demand by June 2013.
  • Maximise opportunities for local and regional business to benefit from Maryborough’s heritage assets.
  • Provide opportunity for the development of community art and cultural activities including a shared workspace for craft industry within the precinct and the inclusion of community theatre and arts groups.
  • Encourage the future establishment of appropriately themed retail and hospitality businesses within the precinct to keep with the overriding heritage theme of the area.

“Some of the ideas include showcasing regional wines and incorporate wine and port tasting within the Bond Store experience,” Cr Seymour said.

“Some parts of the plan are already in place and the complete package will be in place by June ready for co-operative precinct activities around the Relish Food and Wine Fest, the Mary Poppins Festival and the June/July school holiday tourism period.”

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