A facelift of a little, forgotten corner of downtown Murwillumbah is set to breathe new life into the CBD.
Yesterday, a new park and toilet facilities in the historic wharf district of the town, built with the help of federal government funding, was officially opened.
Wharf Park, named after a government wharf that once stood on the banks of the Tweed River, was once the transport hub of Murwillumbah from the late 1880s, playing a major role in the town’s development.
It was a time when the river ruled with steamers being the main commercial transport mode. The river then was the lifeblood of the town, being the main arterial route for transporting people and goods as there were no adequate roads between Murwillumbah and Tweed Heads.
But with improved roads, establishment of a railway line and the building of the Murwillumbah bridge in 1901, the importance of river transport declined.
A Tweed Shire Council spokesperson said a weathered timber pole reclaimed from a demolished timber bridge is a focal point of the park project, hosting signs with images and historical information about the steamers which once plied the river. The toilet block is screened from the road by a perforated metal screen featuring an image of the passenger steamer Uki in 1903, against the backdrop of the original Murwillumbah Bridge.
The $158,000 project features timber and concrete seating, picnic tables and landscaping under the shade of an established fig tree.
The toilet block has been designed for wheelchair access, and the toilets use harvested water.
During yesterday’s opening, Tweed mayor Barry Longland thanked Richmond MP Justine Elliot for her government’s help with the project, providing $68,000 toward the project under the Accessible Communities Initiative from the Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs.
Cr Longland said the grant had allowed the project to move forward, and provided facilities ‘which are accessible to all in our community’.
‘For a long time, there’s been a need for local workers to have a space near the main street to enjoy their lunch breaks. By providing all the amenities in one place, such as drinking fountains, bins and bike racks, this need has been fulfilled.’
The toilet block replaces an old one in Queen Street, which had long-standing access and maintenance issues. Due to its heritage value, it has been retained for yet-to-be-determined community use.