ONE of the region’s most prized pastoral properties is about to undergo arguably the most significant transformation in its 180-year history.
Plans have been approved to convert disused buildings at Goonoo Goonoo Station into a function centre, restaurant and accommodation facility.
The historic 4430ha property, located about 25km south of Tamworth, was purchased by coal baron Tony Haggarty for a reported $25 million in 2011.
The $4.7 million development application provided for a woolshed to be made into a function centre and restaurant, holding up to 136 and 134 people respectively.
The proposal included renovating a dilapidated chapel to host weddings and turning a run-down schoolhouse into a bridal waiting area.
With the station having severed its ties to the sheep industry to focus on cattle grazing, 11 short-term accommodation units will be created in the old shearers’ quarters.
Goonoo Goonoo Station was established in 1834 by the Australian Agricultural Company for the raising of merino sheep, according to documents lodged with the application.
Complicating the DA was that the station is listed as a heritage item, meaning function centres are specifically considered a “prohibited development”.
However, TKD Architects – acting on behalf of Mr Haggarty – argued for an exception on the grounds that conservation of the heritage item would be “facilitated” by the changes.
“We consider this proposal to be a very positive development to Goonoo Goonoo Station as a whole,” the submission to Tamworth Regional Council read.
“Adaptive re-use and alterations will breathe new life into the woolshed, chapel and schoolhouse and shearers’ quarters precincts.
“The development proposed encourages opportunities for members of the public – both visitors and invited guests – to visit the property, experiencing the rural working setting – which to date has not occurred.”
Mr Haggarty has served as a non-executive director of Whitehaven Coal since stepping down as the company’s managing director last year.
He is one of four government-appointees to the North West’s Local Land Services board.