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Heritage Centre Opening Day 2014

Eight years in the making - the opening of the Noojee Heritage Centre

More than a hundred invited guests gathered for the official opening of the Noojee Heritage Centre on the morning of Saturday, 22nd March 2014. They came to Noojee to witness the culmination of more than eight years of historical research, lobbying, planning and fund-raising by the Noojee and District Historical Society, resulting in a reconstruction of the town’s first railway station to house a heritage centre.

A vintage traction engine was on-hand, adding atmosphere to the occasion, belching smoke and providing the piercing sound of a steam whistle not heard in Noojee for nearly sixty years.  Looking at the 1950s J class locomotive that has pride of place on display alongside the new platform, everyone present felt that the station was once again truly operational, with a train about to depart on its way to Warragul.Cutting the ribbon

Gary Blackwood MLA, the state government member for Narracan, was delighted to be able to perform the official opening ceremony.  Mr Blackwood, who has been keenly interested in the heritage centre from its outset, expressed his pleasure with the outcome of the project, towards which $221,000 has been contributed through the ‘Putting Locals First’ component of the Victorian Government’s Regional Growth Fund.  He said that this was a further example of the Regional Growth Fund benefitting the community of Noojee, in terms of new jobs and increased tourism business, after its recent significant contribution to the nearby Alpine Trout Farm’s expansion project.

Project manager Lynn Mizen spoke about the time when she ran community future planning workshops for council, eight years ago, and how the heritage centre was one of the projects proposed by Noojee’s community.  She said that she had been pleased to be closely involved with the Noojee and District Historical Society from when they were first appointed as the land management committee and through all the acquisition, planning and building phases of the project.

Baw Baw Shire Councillor David Balfour recalled that council had funded the initial feasibility study for the project after it was identified as the number one priority in the Noojee community’s future plan.  He was instrumental in the decision to allow the society to become custodians of a vintage J class locomotive that was owned by council and on display in Warragul.  Councillor Balfour said how pleased he was to see the community’s wishes realised and the locomotive now displayed in its rightful place at the station platform.VIPs at the opening day - March 2014

Two of the project’s major financial supporters were also represented at the opening ceremony.  Tim Gilmore, from the Neerim and District Community Bank Branch of the Bendigo Bank, said the heritage centre was a great project for the bank to support and they were proud to be involved in this first stage.  Addressing the assembled visitors, David Thompson, CEO of Melbourne based project management company, Protegic Pty Ltd, said that this was the first time that his company had provided significant support for a regional community project of this type and they were extremely pleased to have contributed to its successful outcome.

William Langoor, the Noojee and District Historical Society’s President, was applauded as being the driving force and inspiration for the heritage centre throughout the last eight years.  Before the official cutting of the ribbon with Mr Blackwood, he took time to thank the hundreds of corporate and individual supporters who donated money for the project.  Mr Langoor was delighted with the responses that ultimately brought in over $100,000 through donations and in-kind support.   Members enjoying the opening day celebrations

 

After the ceremony, the guests were shown around the heritage centre and treated to a complimentary barbeque lunch, courtesy of local businesses and society members.  The benefits for Noojee were immediate, with both the Outpost Retreat and the Noojee Pub reporting a busier than normal Saturday’s trading as a steady stream of visitors passed through the centre during the day.

Initially, the Noojee Heritage Centre will be open at weekends and most public holidays, with plans to extend the times as the project progresses to its next phase.  The Noojee and District Historical Society look forward to welcoming all visitors and anyone interested in becoming a society member to the centre in the coming months.

 

 

 

Photos accompanying this article

Photo 1

Society President William Langoor and Gary Blackwood MP perform the opening ceremony

Photo 2

Under the station platform sign, left to right: Murray Cook - Baw Baw Shire Mayor, Gary Blackwood - Member for Narracan, William Langoor - Noojee & District Historical Society President, Councillor David Balfour, David Thompson - CEO Protegic Pty Ltd, Tim Gilmore - Neerim & District Branch of the Bendigo Bank

Photo 3

Noojee & District Historical Society members, Venloe Scott and Wally Redl, enjoying the first day celebrations at the Noojee Heritage Centre.