The Willow Tree tourist information centre has won an award for its architectural design.
The centre, in a high profile position on the New England Highway in the middle of the village, has been given a highly commended prize in local government category of the Australian Property Institute’s excellence awards for 2012.
The centre was built by the Liverpool Plains Shire Council to service the new council region after the amalgamation of the former Quirindi shire with a major portion of the Murrurundi shire in 2004.
Mayor Ian Lobsey said the location of the council-run centre in Willow Tree was a result of an economic development plan from that time which had showed that no accredited visitors’ centre existed on the New England Highway between Scone and Tamworth.
Mr Lobsey said the new shire identified that one of its principle strategies was the development of attractions in each of the major towns and villages.
“With its location at the junction of the Kamilaroi and New England highways, Willow Tree was regarded as a strategic location to promote the shire and the greater region,” Councillor Lobsey said.
“The Liverpool Plains Visitor Information Centre (VIC) at Willow Tree is a striking building, located in King George V Park and was officially opened on September 14, 2010 as a Level 1 Accredited Information Centre.”
Councillor Lobsey said the building was designed for optimum use of natural light, heating and cooling, important in an environment that can range from heavy frosts to the plus 40s, as well as for optimum visibility to travellers.
It was built with prefabricated Austec panels consisting of colour bond sheets with a polystyrene core, to provide insulation and sound proofing. He said it also had tanks to harvest rainwater and an environmental sewerage plant, with the waste water from the system used in the gardens through a sub-surface irrigation system.
The premises are also used as a community centre for the Home and Community Care Centre (HACC) building which is situated at the back of the VIC. Mr Lobsey said the centre had attracted over 19,000 visitors since it opened and it was run with the help of and enthusiastic and willing band of volunteers.
He paid tribute to those volunteers and to the council’s tourist officer Belinda Blanch for making the award-winning venue what it was.