The facilities at the former Longreach Pastoral College are being brought back to life, three years after its mothballing was announced by the state government.
- The Emerald Agricultural College and Longreach Pastoral College were closed by the state government in 2019.
- Three years later, the buildings are being brought back to life.
- Telstra, QPS, local council are using the facilities
Closing the agricultural training facility angered the western Queensland community, but it may soon see movement there in the coming months.
Tony Rayner, chair of the Remote Area Planning and Development Board, said Queensland Police Service and Telstra were in talks with RAPAD to lease parts of the empty facility.
“We are in discussions with the Queensland Police Service for leasing a portion of the rooms at the college for training and conference purposes,” Mr Rayner said.
Telstra has said they have signed a three-month lease on two rooms at the college for training purposes and QPS confirmed they will be using space at the college for a short term hire arrangement.
As for the new use of the facilities, Mr Rayner said the college needed to be repurposed.
“Clearly the old business model had served its purpose, but that day has passed.”
As well as the new tenants at the college, Mr Rayner also said RAPAD was in negotiations with the state government to extend their licence to occupy.
“We obviously need a minimum of three to five years tenure to be able to attract and hold out commercial tenants,” Mr Rayner said.
“No-one wants to be there for 12 months only.”
Closure a ‘sad day’ for agriculture
Rosemary Champion has a long and strong connection to the Longreach Pastoral College.
Her father was one of the people who started the educational facility and she herself was on the board for a number of years.
She said when the college closed in 2018, she saw the writing on the wall for the agricultural training facility.
“We knew for a fact it was not going to reopen in its old form,” Mrs Champion said.
“It’s a sad day, but if it’s not meant to be then we’ve got to get behind those that are trying to make it work.
She said while it was good to see the facilities being used, the ideal situation would be seeing it return to its original form.
“It doesn’t solve the problem with agricultural training at all,” she said.
“We’ve got to train our young people, somewhere, somehow and it’s definitely a missed opportunity.”
New life for central Queensland college
In the Central Highlands region, part of the Emerald Agricultural College has also found a new purpose.
The college closed along with the Longreach site after 40 years in operation, with the last group of graduates completing their studies in 2019.
The Central Highlands council has taken over part of the lease from the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries for a disaster coordination centre.
“For a period of time, over the short-term, council has been able to lease that building,” Central Highlands Mayor Kerry Hayes said.
The Department of Agriculture and Fisheries still runs its research station on the agriculture college site, with some staff still working there.
“It’s a large campus area, and this is just one building.” Mr Hayes said.
“I do know the department has strengthened opportunities for the research facilities and I know it has plans or potential plans for the site, going forward.”
Cr Hayes said while he could not unveil those plans, he did know further announcements were imminent.
“I respectfully suggest that we should wait and see.”