4 March 2022

Gunning well on track for new arts and cultural hub

| Sally Hopman
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Group of people in front of Gunning Railway Station sign

The creative and constructive minds behind the Connect@Gunning Station project, (from left) Gunning District Association president Graham Dyer, Upper Lachlan Shire Council general manager Colleen Worthy, Councillor John Stafford, STA’s Michelle Storey, Member for Goulburn Wendy Tuckerman, STA’s Rose Marin, Transport for NSW’s Andrew Killingsworth, Gunning Focus Group’s Mike Coley and Councillor John Searl. Photo: Southern Tablelands Arts.

When the Gunning Railway Station was in its prime, it connected people. They might have been coming through from Sydney or back to Melbourne, or to one of the many tiny towns in between, but it was all about connection.

Today the station sees little traffic, except for the daily XPT services, but it is about to reconnect with the people of Gunning.

Gunning Railway Station is undergoing a metamorphosis. The heritage-listed station, which used to be the centre of the community, is about to become its artistic and cultural hub.

Connect@Gunning Station will become the new home for Gunning’s existing thriving arts community for performances, heritage displays, workshops, meetings – anything with a remotely cultural bent, according to one of the project organisers, executive director of Southern Tablelands Arts (STA) Rose Marin.

STA is working with Transport for NSW and the people of Gunning, to bring new artistic life to the old railway station.

READ ALSO Gunning’s historic Coronation Theatre needs your help

“We had already installed three public artworks in stations at Goulburn, Mittagong and Moss Vale, so we had an ongoing relationship with Transport for NSW – they knew we were solid,” Ms Marin said.

“We started having these conversations with them, and about two years ago we started talking seriously about making the Gunning station an arts and culture hub.”

Ms Marin said some old railways stations, which boast a remarkable architectural and social history, are already being used as community centres or artistic hubs in NSW, including one at Blayney in central-west NSW.

“We’ve been looking at what places like Blayney have done and have learned from them,” she said.

“With all these old stations, what we love to see happening is that they are reopening to their communities again. People are being let in again and that’s fantastic.”

Ms Marin said from the start, the STA and Transport for NSW had made it a priority for the community to become involved.

“We wanted the community to become involved right from the early stages, especially a place like Gunning which has the most amazingly creative community,” she said.

She added Transport for NSW was leading the project to restore the historic Gunning buildings for their new life, with restoration work expected to be completed by May this year.

The history of the site will play a big role in its new life, with the Gunning and District Historical Society looking at setting up displays to tell the history of the station.

READ ALSO Gunning prepared to honour its history with bicentennial celebrations

Society president Leslie Bush said she was delighted the buildings were to be made available for community and cultural use.

“We look forward to continuing work with Transport for NSW and Southern Tablelands Arts to present our heritage to the community.”

Ms Marin said local groups and organisations have already raised their hands to use the station when it reopens later this year, with interest already flagged by local schools, environmentalists and craftspeople.

She also said the main role of the STA in the Gunning project was to do all the pre-planning work.

“We want to build the structure, the opportunity, so the community has the chance to use the building the best way they can,” she said.

“We’ll do all the hard stuff, the setting up, we’ll manage that in the beginning, so it’s ready for the community to use.

“When we’re able to set something like this up for the community, I feel privileged to do the job I do. It’s a multi-layered process – and it can take a village to do. Just as well we’ve got such a great village like Gunning behind this.”

The Gunning Arts Festival will stage the inaugural exhibition at the station, SnapWrite; a photo exhibition featuring the works of local photographers, illustrating why they love living in the region. Photographers are invited to submit their work for the show, complete with words about why they love living where they live.

More information about Connect@Gunning Station is available on their website.

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