Science fun for the Central Highlands

Community stories: 22 December 2020

The regional town of Emerald, situated in the Central Highlands Region of Queensland, is having a tough time. The area is experiencing a severe drought, which is having a significant impact on the town’s economy. However, there is a potential bright light for both locals and tourists in the new Emerald Arts, Culture and Technology Precinct (ACTP).

The precinct includes the regional library, art gallery, maker space, pottery, art pods and more. As part of the precinct, the Central Highlands Science Centre (CHSC) saw an opportunity to create a first-class science discovery and learning experience for kids in the local area, and tourists from out of town looking for a fun family activity. With the town experiencing a tough drought, keeping tourism going is important as it gives the town a much-needed boost to their economy.

A $18,700 grant from the Australian Government through our TTTT program meant that the organisers of the centre could work together with key community and tourism groups and conduct a feasibility study into the potential of establishing the centre as part of the Emerald ACTP. The feasibility study investigated the opportunities and measure of success or failure of the Centre to drive an economic benefit for CHSC and the wider region.

The project was found to be feasible, and the CHSC received further funding to help with their relocation costs. While the shift has been put on hold due to COVID-19, the bigger premises mean that the CHSC has been able to stay open and continue providing education opportunities and a tourist attraction for visitors from outside of town. It is excellent to see this project making such a big difference to the long-term sustainability of the centre.

Students in a classroom with their teacher learning about science.

Gai Sypher, who is the Coordinator of the CHSC, said of the project; “Drought is far reaching across Australia and the recent rain has only given hope. Drought is part of the Australian landscape. We need to invest in our rural communities to attract visitor who will spend money to boost our rural economy.”

“Thank you for this wonderful opportunity that has funded the feasibility study. We have actioned recommendations from the study and are scheduled for a relocation in June.”

Gai Sypher – CHSC Coordinator