DEBATE over the future potential for a 19th century railway site itself has a long history.
In 1999 a battle brewed over Railway Place, the site where Port Fairy's railway once ended, where the Moyne Shire Council had proposed a visitor information centre. Councillor of the day Di Clanchy was elected on a promise to oppose the building of the new structure.
Cr Clanchy said at the time that Railway Place was thought to be an inappropriate location for a tourist information centre because it was a public open space used during community events such as the folk festival and summer carnival.
Port Fairy historian Marten Syme said he attended a community meeting in the late 1990s at the height of tensions over the site, and described the meeting as "one of the most uncomfortable I had been to".
Mr Syme said a historic goods shed at Railway Place had also created angst in recent years "largely because of inaction and indecision" over what to do with it.
Listed by the Victorian Heritage Register about a decade ago, the building with its two cantilevered verandas today remains fenced off and in need of restoration.
The railway shed was built when the rail from Melbourne was extended from Terang via Warrnmabool to Koroit and then Port Fairy in 1890.
A now demolished railway station was built years later in 1909, while the shed was used primary for goods coming in and going out of the town.
Mr Syme said the shed likely stocked produce from farms including onions and potatoes and later dairy products from nearby production plant Glaxo.
"Goods going out would be dairy produce, various stages they were transporting basalt stone across to Warrnambool for the breakwater, lime sand, there was a cement factory here in the 50s - that was crucial for carrying cement to Melbourne," he said.
Mr Syme said he had been frustrated the building had not found a future use after the railway was decommissioned in 1978.
"The council applied for further heritage funding in the past year but they weren't successful," he said.
"I have been strong on the fact it should be used as an area to provide publicity for people to want to go to other areas in Moyne Shire. It could store heritage artifacts like the whale boat."
- An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated that the goods shed was proposed to become a tourist information centre.
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