Moyne Shire moves to secure future of Port Fairy's railway goods shed

The Railway Goods Shed in Port Fairy may be preserved.
The Railway Goods Shed in Port Fairy may be preserved.

MOYNE Shire is hoping to make some progress with the Port Fairy Railway Goods Shed.

Councillors voted 6-1 at Tuesday night’s meeting in favour of putting together a working group to focus on the heritage building’s future.

Councillor Mick Wolfe put forward a motion with the aim of “forming a working group ... to address costing to renovate the building, funding opportunities, occupancy and maintenance of the structure”.

Only mayor Jim Doukas voted against the motion.

It comes in the wake of the shire receiving a petition signed by 476 people calling on the council to “access available funding for the renovation of the old Railway Goods Shed to preserve its appearance and form”.

It also asked for the progression of plans for the community to use the shed for “displays promoting attractions throughout the Moyne Shire, storage space the Visitor Information Centre needs for brochures to promote Moyne Shire further, (and) display and storage of larger heritage artefacts”.

The petition was the brainchild of local historian Marten Syme.

Built in 1890, the shed is considered significant for historic, social and architectural reasons at a state level. 

Cr Doukas said he voted against the motion because of its wording.

“It didn’t cover all the options,” he said, highlighting relocation and even potential demolition as things that needed to be explored should restoring or making the shed usable prove too expensive.

But Cr Wolfe said all options for the future of the Railway Goods Shed were still on the table. 

He said the aim of the working group would be to assess what was required to make the shed usable and what it might cost, but if "it was only going to sit there and rot" then anything could happen.

Cr Ian Smith questioned whether the council's interest in the building would be seen in the community as the shire "virtually waving a cheque" at the shed, but Cr Wolfe said that was not the case, with a focus on external funding.

Cr Wolfe said that if the working group "came back and said 'we needed half a million dollars to match (other funding)' they'd know what to expect", indicating that the council was unlikely to want to pour money into the shed.

Cr Wolfe said the petition had shown there was plenty of interest in seeing something done with the shed, and the council owed it to people behind that petition to explore options for the historic building.

Moyne Shire asked for expressions of interest in the goods shed over a year ago and only got one submission, but that submitter baulked at the costs and amount of work required to make the shed habitable.

The working group will be led by Cr Wolfe and Cr Jordan Lockett, and will be expected to report back to the council as soon as possible.