14 March 2023

'It's a clean sheet of paper': Consultation to begin on Wagga's Riverside Stage 3

| Chris Roe
Join the conversation
two men

GM Peter Thompson and Mayor Dallas Tout near the proposed site for Riverside Stage 3. Photo: Chris Roe.

A 5000-seat entertainment centre and a dedicated Wiradjuri cultural centre and Aboriginal ‘keeping place’ are among the ideas on the table for stage three of the Riverside revitalisation.

Almost half a million dollars has been allocated by the NSW Government for Wagga City Council to kick off with community consultation and create a business case by September.

“It’s always been in the social and cultural plan to do something in this space in the cultural area and the Wiradjuri space as well,” explained Mayor Dallas Tout.

“To have this funding come available is fantastic because that now gives us the opportunity to do the most important step, which is to consult with the community.

“It’s a clean sheet of paper for discussion.”

READ ALSO Nature-based experiences at heart of Snowy Valleys forest revival masterplan

While nothing is set in stone, general manager Peter Thompson said that there had been strong community support in the past for a proposed major exhibition and cultural space on the current site of the Visitor Information Centre.

“This is a great step forward for Wagga in terms of having a facility that isn’t present in southern areas of New South Wales,” he said.

“If that’s what the community chooses.”

Australia’s leading demographer Bernard Salt visited Wagga in 2019 and amid his praise for the city was the observation that the region lacked an entertainment focal point.

Mr Thompson explained that a large central facility could connect with the nearby Civic Theatre and the CSU Playhouse to attract big-name performers, events, conferences and trade fairs.

“We tick so many of the boxes in terms of health services and universities and good schools and sporting facilities, but what we don’t tick is a large entertainment centre for the city,” said Mr Thompson.

“Those large concert performers often only look for venues that have a particular number of seats because they need to sell those seats in order to make a profit. When you don’t have a large venue to offer them, then they don’t include us in that circuit.”

READ ALSO Probing the polls: Support for ‘Rexit’ and do we need a new government bank

Council also hopes to explore ideas for the long-awaited Wiradjuri cultural centre, something that Elder James Ingram says is already a big step forward.

“We’ve been trying to get a museum and a keeping place for about 40 years and this is the furthest we’ve ever been,” he said.

“There are so many artifacts out there with landholders and there’s no more room in the Australian Museum either, it’s full up.”

Uncle James says it will be important to consult properly and to genuinely represent the story of the Murrumbidgee Wiradjuri people.

“You’ve got to remember that we’ve had two significant Wiradjuri women here, Aunty Vonnie Gilchrist and Aunty Violet Honeysett, whose message was, please let people know who we are, not who we was, and that we haven’t disappeared, let them know that we’re still here.”

group on levee

Uncle James Ingram shares the story of the river near the proposed location of Riverside Stage 3. Photo: Chris Roe.

The $491,875 in funding will be used to carry out community consultation, produce concept designs, undertake feasibility studies and create a full business case for the Riverside Stage 3 project by September.

While consultation was undertaken through the Riverside Strategic Master Plan and Cultural Plan 2020-30, Cr Tout says it’s now up to the community to determine the next step.

“Let’s see what the community comes up with, that’s the most important thing,” he said.

“I’d really encourage community to have input into this because it’s a fairly huge development.

“If we can then get capital funding to get this, we need to get the business case right because this is what council will be basing it on in the future for their funding applications.”

Join the conversation

All Comments
  • All Comments
  • Website Comments

Daily Digest

Want the best Riverina news delivered daily? Every day we package the most popular Riverina stories and send them straight to your inbox. Sign-up now for trusted local news that will never be behind a paywall.

By submitting your email address you are agreeing to Region Group's terms and conditions and privacy policy.