The Traralgon courthouse has embarked on a new chapter in its colourful history, but this time there are no solicitors, prosecutors, magistrates or defendants to be seen anywhere.
The 134-year-old building is gradually being re-purposed to become a welcoming, modern space open for community use by both groups and the public.
Federal Member for Gippsland Darren Chester visited the heritage-listed courthouse to see how work had progressed on its latest project: the installation of a small kitchen.
“The addition of a kitchenette has made the building more user-friendly and widens the range of events that can be hosted here,” Mr Chester said. “Until now, there has been nothing other than a sink to use.
“The restoration and re-opening of the courthouse is a remarkable effort driven by a group of dedicated volunteers determined to turn a landmark building into a unique venue and community asset for their town.”
The Friends of the Traralgon Courthouse secured a $10,000 grant from the Federal Government to help fund the project.
Costing a total of $40,000, the kitchenette has additional storage space, a large fridge, serving station, hot water and a microwave, enabling event organisers to easily serve hot and cold drinks and a selection of food. New commercial-grade flooring has been installed and soon new lighting and fresh paint will complete this stage of work.
Friends of the Traralgon Courthouse President David Hackford said the courthouse had been used as a sitting court for the Family Court when on circuit to Gippsland, but had reopened its doors to the community after remaining unused for more than 15 years.
“Significant work has already been done to enable local groups to commence using this space,” Mr Hackford said.
“We have a long-term plan that involves turning the whole building into a community hub with a large, private courtyard that can host regular arts and cultural events, such as exhibitions. It provides a much-needed space for local groups in a unique central setting.
“The centrepiece of the building is the original court room in which everything was made locally, including the bricks and joinery. Many visitors are quite taken aback when they see the courtroom for the first time. We aim to restore it to become a space which will continue to serve the community in a new and broader way.”
The Federal Government funding for the courthouse project was part of Gippsland’s $150,000 allocation from the #lovegippsland Stronger Communities Program.