The Forbes Railway Arts & Tourist Centre have long been a part of the Forbes community and this year the committee celebrates 30 years of servicing visitors from the Heritage railway building.
The first meeting of the Forbes Railway Arts and Tourism Centre Committee (FRATC) was 18 June 1990 at the Forbes Golf Club, where it was first discussed to move into the railway station. Due to COVID-19 restrictions the 30 Year celebrations have been put on hold.
“I want to thank all of the amazing volunteers we have had at the Railway Station over the last 30 years,” says Forbes Shire Council Mayor Phyllis Miller. “Without their dedication and hard work Forbes would not have had such a wonderful service and local business in the Railway Arts and Tourist Centre. “Your support in selling Forbes to prospective tourists is greatly appreciated, and without your tireless dedication many would have driven through town and not stayed to spend money here.”
The relocation of the information service from its previous location in Lachlan Street, to accompany the arts and craft group was agreed upon at this inaugural meeting and so began the unique and successful union. The committee agreed the operating hours would be 9am - 5pm, and discussions were had regarding members teaching their craft to others in a designated room.
Present at the inaugural meeting were a wide variety of local identities including: Joan White, Lynn Henley, Cath McCauliff, Ruby Reid, Dorothy Findlay, Vanessa Crompton, Val Cartwright, Azalea Sharp, Jan Herbert, Beryle Brockman, Pearl McGuire, Gwen Reid, Betty O’Brien, Merle Churchill, Carmel Bray, Shirley Hohnberg, Anne Nixon, Maude Morris, Yvonne Acret, Robyn Monaghan, Danie Doolan, Joan Herborn and Glenys Ryan. Absences were noted by a further 8 members: Barbara Richardson, Pam Thompson, Sue Davies, Dawn Rout, Dian Coker, Denise Hodder, Lorna Peters and Pat Martin.
The first committee was elected as follows: President: Yvonne Acret Vice President: Shirley Hohnberg Treasurer: Danie Doolan Roster Secretary: Robyn Monaghan Publicity Officer: Jean Herborn Secretary: Glenys Ryan
The committee thrived for three decades, with a total of 111 members, 83 of whom were “sitting” members of the committee in February 1991. A lot of hard work was put into getting the Centre off the ground, and was a passion project for the initiators. Members joined for multiple reasons, including social interaction, particularly with others of similar creative hobbies and interests, sale of goods and community pride to show the world, their wonderful town.
The committee were instrumental in organising, planning and planting of the garden in the driveway, the internal renovations of the building, and set up of the “baby” room, middle craft room and the Ben Hall Experience Room which includes a short DVD depicting Hall’s demise and local interviews, artefacts from that era, and later the addition of the Ben Hall Family Tree Panel put together by local history buff Kerry Neaylon.
Forbes Shire Council first employed a Visitor Services Officer, as a dedicated staff member, on site at the Visitor Information Centre in 2013.
“It has been great to see the passion the FRATC members have had in promoting the region,” Mayor Miller continues. “And given many have lived in the area for a long time they have been able to share tales of the town to the many travelers who have called in.
“A special thank you to members, who have served since the very early days of inception of the committee for their extensive years of service. Danie Doolan, the driving force and dedicated founding member must also be acknowledged. Without her initial push the Forbes Railway Arts & Tourist Centre and its committee would not have come to fruition.”