30th Anniversary Year
In 2021, the Australian Workers Heritage Centre celebrates its 30th Anniversary.
From Solidarity, Passion and Commitment Big Things Grow.
In the early 1980’s a group of workers met beneath the Tree of Knowledge in
Barcaldine, Central Western, Queensland. Amongst them were Shearer - the late Bob Gleeson, District Secretary AWU - the late Alf Kain, Publican and former Railway Guard - Pat Ogden, then President of the Trades and Labour Council Queensland - the late Harry Hauenschild, the Secretary ETU Qld - the late Neal Kane, and Railway Carpenter - the late Rocky Ryan.
At the meeting (the late) Bob Gleeson moved a motion proposing the construction of the Australian Workers Heritage Centre as well as a monument to the 1891 Shearer's Strike beside the Tree of Knowledge. It was resolved that Australia needed a fitting tribute to its workers. Barcaldine’s place in the nation’s working history made it a fitting venue. With the support of others they went on to become foundation members and the prime movers behind the establishment of the Australian Workers Heritage Centre.
Progress to develop the Centre was hampered through lack of funds and general support, however in 1987 a monument to the Shearers’ Strike was unveiled beside the Tree of Knowledge. Signifying protruding shear blades, it recognised the stalwart working men and women of the outback whose struggles in 1891 were to spearhead the many reforms which were to result in a vastly improved way of life for Australians generally.
On September 12th, 1989 the inaugural meeting of the Australian Workers Heritage Centre was held in Brisbane where the aims and objectives of this proposed “Centre for Workers” began to evolve.
In 1989, The Australian Workers Heritage Centre acquired the former Barcaldine State School site and set about transforming the five acre site from a barren landscape into an outback oasis featuring a museum styled attraction to celebrate Australia’s working history.
Many of the original structures were re-invented into exhibition space and in doing so; the architectural style of the era has been preserved and used in a practical way.
Finally when Stage One of the Australian Workers Heritage Centre was opened by the then
(late) Prime Minister - Bob Hawke on May 4th, 1991 the seeds of a vision sown a decade earlier had begun to bear fruit.
The Centre now proudly takes its place as a major draw card on the Matilda Tourist Route as one of the 33 Queensland Heritage Trail Network attractions.