Centre deserves funding

Advocate, LIBBY BINGHAM  p.14 – 31 July 2013

DEVONPORT’S Victoria Parade offers a picturesque drive to Bluff Beach or you can take the flat walking track from the city to the Devonport lighthouse.
At the mouth of the Mersey River the Spirit of the Sea statue, or the rooster on the rock to some, was meant to bring in five busloads of tourists a week from one bus company alone, but they never did flock to see this expensive piece of public art.
To add salt to the wound the city reportedly pays operating costs for the Spirit of the Sea of about $17,000.

When this was reported a  letter writer to The Advocate said: “If it had flashing lights, pivoted on its stand or even played a musical greeting to passengers coming into Devonport on the ferry” they may be able to see where some of the money has been spent. Oh well, at least the members of that well-meaning service club (Rotary)  that fought so hard to foist the statue on Devonport must like it.
We’ve also got Braddon backbencher Brenton Best to thank.
While the good folk were busy fund-raising to buy the controversial and outlandishly expensive bronze the rest of us were lulled into a false sense of security thinking it would take them hopefully forever.
Mr Best ensured the project went ahead when it received $180,000 from the state purse. Never mind one respected art dealer suggested it was only worth $20,000. Nonetheless we’ve got one of the richest public artworks in the state for better or worse.
A fact to still make a grown woman cry.
A little further around the foreshore at the Bluff I could weep to see the same kind of effort and money put into the Tiagarra Museum and Culture Centre, to help it become a dynamic tourism product open 365 days a year.
A cloud hangs over the future of what should be one of Devonport’s major tourist attractions until it closed its doors eight months ago.
Tiagarra is built on a registered Aboriginal site of national significance, and is the only centre of its kind in the state but it clearly needs a facelift.

It needs interpretation and signage on the glorious headland walk.
The Six Rivers Aboriginal Corporation has told the Devonport City Council it requires some new expertise and the two groups are working together to hopefully reopen the venue.
Let’s hope the state and federal governments come to the party and there is help for this special place to realise its true potential.
It needs investment and a business plan.
Tiagarra is important to Tasmania as a celebration of Aboriginal culture and history, not just as a museum, and has a story to tell which is attracting  international and national visitors as well as local school children.
Busloads will come, but the doors need to open.