THE doors to the Bathurst Agricultural Research Station may have long since closed, but discussions have begun on what to do with the historic site.
Bathurst man and heritage enthusiast, Roy Menzies, worked at the site as a fruit research officer for 37 years and he has a keen interest in seeing it preserved.
Recently, he asked Bathurst Regional Council mayor Gary Rush and councillor Graeme Hanger to tour the site in hopes they would support his calls for conservation.
The extensive site, located along the north side of Research Station Drive and wrapping around to the west of the Charles Sturt University campus, was originally called the Bathurst Experiment Farm and it was 800 acres in size when it was first opened in 1895.
It opened in an era when the region’s farmers were suffering.
“In 1890, it was one of the worst droughts we’ve had and things were looking pretty crook with rabbits and weeds,” Mr Menzies said.
The facility taught farming methods, weed control and also grew a huge variety of produce to help people learn what would thrive in local conditions.
“It helped Bathurst prosper,” he said.
In 1890, it was one of the worst droughts we’ve had and things were looking pretty crook with rabbits and weeds.Former fruit research officer at the Bathurst Agricultural Research Station Roy Menzies
In the years since the facility opened, it has changed names many times and the NSW Department of Primary Industries now owns the 160 acre block.
“Eleven buildings were classified by the National Trust in 1995,” Mr Menzies.
And it is these buildings and the facility’s role and stories in the development of Bathurst he hopes to preserve.
But for anyone thinking the area could be the city’s next big residential development, Mr Menzies said it was too close to Mount Panorama and the decibel level from races is “above what is allowable for a housing development”.
“Also, it’s Crown land and gazetted for education and research,” he said. “It’s protected in that way.”
An Aboriginal cultural centre, botanic garden or exhibition centre are among some of Mr Menzies’ suggestions for future uses.
Cr Rush confirmed the State Government owned site was an opportunity for the region.
“The great challenge we face is to determine what it might be used for,” he said.
“There are probably a number of options for which it could be used for and a lot of those come at a price tag.”